It was a cold -7 degrees when I set off to spend the day at the Morton Arboretum in Lisle, Ill., just outside of Chicago, a few weeks ago. A 1,700 acre arboretum, Morton has trees from all over the world.
The goal of the arboretum is to collect trees, shrubs, plants material and to display them for people to study and enjoy. They want to encourage the public through the planting and conservation of trees and others plants for a greener, healthier and more sustainable world.
So many of the trees that dot and adorn our Fallbrook landscape grow at the arboretum like birch, elms, oaks, liquidambar, conifers, persimmons, walnuts and many seasonal perennials that awaken in springtime after their winter’s dormancy, but many of these are of different species and cultivars.
The property is so large that you have the option to walk, hike, ride a bike or drive your car around these expansive grounds. Whether you’re in the mood for snowshoeing through the East Woods or a serene brisk stroll through evergreens under a blanket of snow, the arboretum has something for everyone even at this time of year.
There is a huge evergreen maze winding around hills and dales planted with yews. Next to this is a wonderful children’s garden on four acres with winding trails, ponds and waterfalls, a huge veggie garden and many whimsical tree houses dotting this unique kids exploratory garden setting.
The arboretum is all about education and they have a very extensive scientific department leading the way in the plant world with breeding programs for new hardy plants. They hold plant clinics and many educational workshops throughout the year. Their research library is one of the tops in the nation and many cultivars of new hybrid trees have been introduced from the Morton Arboretum in the past century.
It is a landscape that holds many seasonal changes and I recently saw it with snow on the ground, frozen ponds and the skeletal architecture of deciduous trees. There are also massive stands of pines, firs, and conifers in one of the evergreen forest sections.
I would like to return again when all the vegetation is dressed with foliage and flowers. There is a grand spectrum of plants that grow in that cold climate that can be grown up in our local mountains and colder areas like; flowering lilacs (white, pinks, lavender), yellow forsythia, deciduous hydrangea, winter berried hollies, and spiraea.
It is a very interactive arboretum with a lot of hands-on events for the public, so if you’re ever in Chicago and want to experience one of the world’s grand arboretums, I suggest the Morton Arboretum. Check out www.mortonarb.org.
Roger Boddaert – The Tree Man of Fallbrook can be reached at