Adkins Arboretum recently completed several projects at its nursery growing facilities with support from the Stanley Smith Horticultural Trust (SSHT). The improvements will have a direct and lasting impact on the Arboretum’s Native Plant Propagation Initiative, an ongoing effort to broaden the selection of native plant species available to the horticultural trade.
An $11,500 SSHT grant targeted needed maintenance and improvements at the Arboretum’s nursery. Throughout 2018, Horticultural Advisor Leslie Hunter Cario and Land Steward Kathy Thornton planned and deconstructed obsolete parts of the heated greenhouse. With the help of staff and volunteers, they installed roll-up side curtains that will allow for energy-efficient ventilation and covered the structure with a new double-layer poly film. A removable reflective shade cloth will be added this spring to help keep the greenhouse cool and operable during summer months. In addition, the non-functioning irrigation lines were removed and a replacement irrigation system was purchased for winter installation.
Grant funds also paid for improvements to the potting shed, including a new concrete floor and the electrical work necessary to install lights and fans funded by a previous SSHT grant. Previously used just for sowing seeds and potting seedlings, the potting shed is now a more functional workspace and offers space to hold education programs.
With revitalized growing and potting space, the Arboretum looks forward to refocusing attention on the growing aspect of its propagation initiative, which includes starting local native plants from seeds and cuttings and developing propagation protocols for growing these plants. Begun in 2015, the Arboretum’s Native Plant Propagation Initiative focuses on under-represented native plant species with ornamental worthiness and important ecological benefits. This is accomplished by scouting for local populations—also known as local ecotypes—of desired native plants and following prescribed protocols to collect seeds and cuttings to propagate stock plants. GPS is used to map these populations on the Adkins grounds, which in turn helps to expand the Arboretum’s Living Collections Database. In addition to being used to produce more plants, stock plants will be planted in demonstrations or seed plots and will serve as a focal point for education programs.
Founded in 1980, originally as Maryland’s state arboretum, Adkins Arboretum has operated as a nonprofit since 1989. The Arboretum serves as a model for land management that strives to engage all people in the conservation, appreciation and enjoyment of the Chesapeake region’s native landscapes through education, recreation, the arts and community events. Located within Tuckahoe State Park near Ridgely, the Arboretum operates and maintains a visitor’s center, 400 acres of meadows, woods and wetlands, and five miles of paths under a 50-year lease with the Maryland Department of Natural Resources. Its diverse collection includes more than 600 trees, plants, grasses and wildflower species native to the Eastern Shore and the Mid-Atlantic coastal plain. For more information, visit adkinsarboretum.org or call 410-634-2847.
The Stanley Smith Horticultural Trust is a private foundation that supports ornamental horticulture education and research projects. Funding has been primarily directed towards projects in North America, South America, Central America, the Caribbean, and Australia, with $635,000 awarded to 44 organizations in 2017. To learn more, visit smithht.org.