The Connecticut College Arboretum (CCA) provides a welcome relationship with the natural world and its plants and other life forms. CCA offers opportunities for teaching, research, conservation, recreation, public education and observing wonderous beauty. CCA is a huge arboretum and botanical garden founded in 1931, and located, obviously, on the campus of Connecticut College in the towns of New London and Waterford. Including the campus itself, the Arboretum encompasses about 750 acres of preserved open space in southeastern Connecticut. Once a farm surrounded by woodlands, the Arboretum offers visitors a chance to explore a diverse collection of natives and botanicals, to watch a show at the outdoor Flock Theater, or to simply wander and enjoy the beauty of a precious natural resource. The Arboretum includes tracts of land that are not dedicated to specific plant collections, but rather are preserved as natural or managed areas. These areas offer a rare look at some of the region’s habitats of native plants and animals. These “Natural Areas” total about 200 acres. The oak and hemlock forested Bolleswood tract is located west of the Arboretum Pond, and the rocky, wooded, 40-acre Mamacoke Island in the Thames River is attached to the mainland by a small tidal salt marsh. Arboretum policy calls for no manipulation other than the maintenance of trails, so these areas remain undisturbed by human activity. Natural areas serve a number of significant functions and are an integral part of the Arboretum’s identity and mission. Scientifically valuable, natural areas are the “controls,” the standards, or common denominators by which serious land management programs can be judged and evaluated. They preserve samples of vegetation types, and serve as examples of processes of natural change and development over time. CCA is located in southeastern Connecticut, about five miles inland from Long Island Sound. Recent glaciations (recent meaning in the last 250,000 years!) greatly affected the landscape in the area. Its rocky soil, glacial boulders, the Connecticut coastline, and numerous wetlands are all direct results of these glaciations. The glacier scoured hilltops and deposited till in the valleys. The Thames River, beside which the Arboretum is situated, also has glacial origins. There’s also Mamacoke Island, a 40-acre natural preserve and national treasure! There is considerable diversity in plant communities within the Arboretum. The forests are part of the central hardwoods vegetation zone. Within the Arboretum, there are also many wetland types, including forested wetlands, bogs and tidal marshes. The Arboretum also contains a tidal salt marsh. Mamacoke Marsh, situated on the Thames River, is one of the few unditched marshes left in Connecticut. Tidal marshes are incredibly productive systems in terms of both vegetation and fauna, and act as a nursery for large numbers of marine organisms. In terms of education, Connecticut College is not lacking in originality or hands-on experience. Since its establishment in 1931, generations of students and professors have used the Connecticut College Arboretum as a living laboratory to learn about the natural world. With a wide diversity of natural and managed habitats a few steps away from the lecture and residence halls, over 20 courses regularly use the Arboretum. Honors and Master’s thesis projects, as well as student individual study projects, commonly use the Arboretum as an applied research site. Non-students also enjoy a wealth of programs and activities at CCA. Kids, for example, can attend fun and functional programs ranging from mushroom hunts, learning to use a microscope, and creating holiday ornaments to map and compass-reading and coral reef workshops. Adults can participate in leaf and tree walks, take a course on the mysteries of Mamacoke Island, study winter waterfowl, or join a holiday wreath-making session to name a few of the possibilities! When you’re headed out to CCA, whether alone, with friends, with family or with the tiny tots, and whether you’re there to photograph, observe, bike, walk or hike the natural areas; even if you’re headed to read in the Natural Areas, don’t forget to print out the following Top Five Attractions and Exhibits list. This list is a compartmentalized version of a map, and a “to-see” list of sorts! Use it in addition to any materials or maps you receive upon entry to the Arboretum! 1. SALT Seminars
Smaller American Lawns Today is a movement introduced in June 1997 by Dr. William A. Niering, professor of botany at Connecticut College. The SALT mission is to reverse the lawn mania in America by restoring home and industrial grounds to more harmonious, productive, ecologically sound and naturalistic landscapes. The SALT seminars offer an alternative vision of the mono-cultured classic lawn and encourage attendees to see the natural beauty that abounds in their very own yard. In the annual SALT seminar, participants learn how to cut back on the size of their lawns and to have beautiful, sustainable, and friendly home grounds, too. Once established, you’ll never want to go back to a boring, mono-cultural lawn! This seminar is a true once in a lifetime event that will change your entire outlook on gardening and landscape design.