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Home » PEOPLE AND PLACES » RHODE ISLAND » New England’s Arboretums
Snowed Covered Trees at the Arnold Arboretum     BY: Arnold Arboretum
New England’s Arboretums

Preserving our Natural Heritage

By Peter F. Demers | September 10, 2012

Arboretums are not just places that contains trees, shrubs and vines for the purpose of study and preservation, but they offer magnificent viewing and learning opportunities for the very young to the experienced horticulturist.

Arboretums traditionally differ from botanical gardens in that the latter grow herbaceous plants (which die back to ground level each year and then resurface in the spring).   Theoretically, arboreta grow woody plants exclusively but in actuality, some Arboreta grow herbaceous plants too, blurring the distinction.

Each New England state has at least one arboretum, with the exception of Vermont, although it does have botanical gardens.


Connecticut College Arboretum, founded in 1931, comprises 750 acres and is located on the campus of Connecticut College in the towns of New London and Waterford, CT. It contains several collections including an outstanding collection of native azaleas and rhododendron.

A Twelve-spotted-Skimmer.   Arboretum's provided much needed habitat for indigenous species
BY & COPYRIGHT: Vile Arboretum

Bartlett Arboretum and Gardens in Stamford, CT is ninety-one acres of parkland, gardens, landscapes, and hiking trails, that focus on the regional plants and the local ecology. Founded in 1913 by Dr. Francis Bartlett, it contains several different collections including a collection of conifers and a nut tree grove.

Highstead Arboretum in Redding, CT was founded in 1982 by Mr. and Mrs. James Dudley. Its 150 acres contain diverse woodland, meadows, a pond, and swamp habitat.

Dinosaur State Park and Arboretum is a unique sixty-three acre state park located twenty minutes south of Hartford, CT.

A fascinating park with one of the largest dinosaur track sites in North America, and early Jurassic fossil tracks in sandstone from about 200 million years ago. The arboretum’s goal is to grow as many Mesozoic Era plant families as possible on the site.


Viles Arboretum is located on 224 acres of land in Augusta, ME and has over two dozen plant and tree collections including an extensive lilac and hosta collection. It was founded in 1981 by the Maine Forest Service.

Fay Hyland Arboretum is a ten acre arboretum and botanical gardens located on the campus of the University of Maine in Orono. The arboretum was established in 1934 and stretches along the picturesque Stillwater River.

University of Southern Maine Arboretum is located on the campus of the University of Southern Maine, and encompasses a growing collection of more than 110 shade and ornamental trees as well as a Rhododendron Garden.


Acton Arboretum is situated on sixty-four acres of town conservation land in Acton, MA. The Arboretum boasts a trail system through open meadows, beside woodland ponds, along a glacial esker, and through a bog. A handicapped accessible trail provides access to the herb garden, butterfly garden, hosta garden, day-lily garden, rhododendron garden, and a pond planting. The Wildflower Trail provides access to a wide range of woodland habitats.

A Meadow at Arnold Arboretum>
BY & COPYRIGHT: Arnold Arboretum

Arnold Arboretum is part of Harvard University, located in the Jamaica Plain section of Boston. Founded in 1872 on lands deeded to the University specifically for the study of agricultural endeavors, the Arboretum contains over 265 acres and is part of the “emerald necklace” park designed by Frederick Law Olmstead. The collection contains 14,980 individual plants with particular emphasis on the ligneous species of North America and Eastern Asia.

Polly Hill Arboretum, on Martha’s Vineyard has twenty acres under cultivation, with an additional forty acres of native woodland and has been developed since 1958 by horticulturist Polly Hill. The arboretum is home to North Tisbury azaleas, witch-hazel, winter hazels, camellias, magnolias, stuartias, conifers, and deciduous and evergreen hollies.   It also incorporates a dogwood avenue and a pleached hornbeam arbor.

Walter Hunnewell Arboretum is a twenty-two acre arboretum in Wellesley, MA, containing over 500 species of woody plants in fifty-three families. A highlight is the renowned and distinctive topiary garden, the “Italian Garden” created by Horatio Hollis Hunnewell. Specialty greenhouses feature over 1,000 plant species, including a grape house and peach house.

New Hampshire

A Young Explorer
BY & COPYRIGHT: Vile Arboretum

Jesse Hepler Lilac Arboretum is part of the University of New Hampshire’s Plant Biology Department, and features mostly collections of lilacs - the state flower. The garden is named after a UNH horticulture professor, Jesse Hepler.   At the last count, there were more than 100 varieties of lilacs on the campus in seven color classes.

Rhode Island

Blithewold Mansion, Gardens and Arboretum is one of the finest garden estates in New England. It includes diverse gardens, specimen trees, and a 45-room English style manor house, all chronicling the rich social history of the lives of one family over a span of more than eighty years.

Whether you are interested in horticultural and gardening, or simply want a pleasant day out, you can’t go wrong visiting these magnificent arboretums.

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