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University of Guelph Arboretum

University of Guelph Arboretum
Guelph Arboretum Gingko biloba.jpg
A summer day in The Arboretum.
Location:Guelph, Ontario Canada
Coordinate43°32′27″N 80°12′54″W / 43.54083°N 80.21500°W / 43.54083; -80.21500
Area:165 hectares (410 acres)
Director:Professor Shelley Hunt[1]
Governing Body:University of Guelph
Homepage:University of Guelph Arboretum

The Guelph Arboretum of the University of Guelph is an arboretum modeled after the Arnold Arboretum of Harvard University, which was founded in 1872.[2] The Arnold Arboretum is privately endowed as a department of Harvard just as the Guelph Arboretum is a department of the University of Guelph. The University of Guelph Arboretum was founded in the early 1970s and plantings started in 1971 which have developed into specialized gardens, botanical collections, and gene conservation programs. These Arboretums are demonstrations of American gardening which did not come into its own until the late 19th century.[3] With Industrialization, cities grew in size with a need for natural areas, which were included through the creation of public parks. Views of botanical gardens began to change as they became sources for new material of potential horticultural use rather than only public spaces. Today these spaces act in the propagation of plants that have the potential as attractive and functional ornamentals.

The Arboretum is open all year round to the public from dawn to dusk. There are 73,500 visitors per year.[2] It is used for teaching, research and many other events. There are many university courses, school programs, adult workshops and preregistered group walking tours held at the Arboretum. It is also a popular place for weddings, dinner theatre or memorial services and dedications. There are many walks and tours offered to see the large diversity of plants.

The Aboretum is maintained by the Director, Professor Shelley Hunt, as well as over 100 volunteers from the University of Guelph and the Guelph community.[1] Volunteering includes grounds work, gardening, fundraising, auxiliary administration, staff support, assisting in program delivery and at special events. [4]


The Guelph Arboretum is set in old growth forests and meadow ecosystems in Guelph, Ontario located at 43°32′27″N 80°12′54″W / 43.54083°N 80.21500°W / 43.54083; -80.21500. It has 8.2 kilometres of trail over a span of 165 hectares. There are different trails offered, such as the Ivey Trail and the Trillium Trail. There is much to observe at the Arboretum with 38 species of mammals, 188 species of birds, 39 species of butterflies, 18 reptiles and amphibians as well as shrubs and trees.[2]

The Arboretum offers a great diversity of habitats that meet the needs of a variety of wildlife. In the winter visitors may see opossum, coyote, fox, meadow vole and cottontail in the central area. Visitors can gaze into the middle of a soft maple swamp and catch sightings of fairy shrimp and other aquatic invertebrates.

The reflecting pond in the Japanese Garden


The average monthly temperature at the Guelph Arboretum is 6.5 °C; July is the warmest month and has an average temperature of 19.7 °C; January is the coldest month and has an average temperature of -7.6 °C. [5] The average yearly rainfall is 771.4 mm and the average yearly snowfall is 160.8 cm. The Arboretum is located in United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) hardiness zone 5a (-20 to -15 F, -26.2 to -28.8 C).[6]


It is home to 1,700 different trees and shrubs (species, subspecies).[2] Almost all of the trees and shrubs are indigenous to Southern Ontario. There is an emphasis on woody plants at the Arboretum. The Arboretum has a large plant collection (over 40 collections) and these include native plant as well as introduced species. The collections are used for research, public education, landscape examples, habitat restoration examples and genetic diversity of rare plants. The collections provide a variety of form and color. The collection labels are very detailed and include not only the common English name, but the Latin botanic name as well as the family name (common and Latin) as well as the natural distribution. Some of the collections include the Dogwood Family Collection and the Bean Family Collection. There are plant collections as well as a horticultural collection.

Plant Collections and horticultural collections

The plant family collection includes Maple, crab apple, birch and conifer among others. These collections put emphasis on species diversity.

Rose, lilac, serviceberry and dwarf conifers are the full extent of the horticultural selection at the Arboretum. The rose collection is not sustained using insecticides or fungicides. Visitors can then see which roses would manage in their pesticide free garden. The dwarf conifers are in their natural form as well as presented at their natural growth rate.

Arboretum features

Frances Ball Rose Garden

The Frances Ball Rose Collection displays a variety of roses. There are over 115 species and varieties in this collection.[7] The Arboretum uses as little pesticides as possible. As a result, roses that need little to no spraying were chosen. There are seven sections in the rose collection. These are Pasture and Swamp roses, Sweetbrier, Dog and Red leaf roses, Rugosa, Smooth and Cinnamon roses, Scotch and Father Hugo Roses, Climbing roses, Old Garden roses, and Canadian Explorer Series. The blooming period for the roses is June–July with a few blooming in early August.[7] For more information on these roses please visit the reference link in this section and scroll to the bottom of the page.

Leslie Hancock Memorial Rhododendron Collection

The Leslie Hancock Memorial Rhododendron Collection displays a variety of rhododendrons which are a special group of plant. There are over 65 species in the collection.[8] Most rhododendrons are considered to be shrubs with a few exceptions. The collection is dedicated to Leslie Hancock who was a promoter and breeder of these plants in Ontario. The collection is a diverse sample that can be grown in the Southern Ontario climate. They need protection from the sun and wind. The plants are organized into 3 different classes Azaleas, Alpine Rhododendrons, and Large-flowered Rhododendrons. The blooming period spans from the end of April to the beginning of July.[8]

General view of the World of Trees

The World of Trees and Dwarf Conifer Collection

The World of Trees has over 400 species of woody plants from 67 different plant families.[9] A black metal label is at the base of each plant on the grounds. The World of Trees trail is 0.9 km. The collection includes Maple, Corkwood, Beech, Willow and Pine.[9] The Dwarf Conifer Collection displays over 150 specimens of different forms and colors.[10] The plants in the garden are not clipped or formed. They can grow to be quite large as well. The dwarf conifers are at their brightest in June (new) and in September (mature).[10]

Gosling Wildlife Gardens and The Wall Custance Memorial Forest

The Gosling Wildlife Gardens is a plant collection that inspires visitors to do similar plantings at their home, as well as, displays woody plants and perennials that attract wildlife and promotes positive people and wildlife interactions. The collection includes five gardens that are the size of urban and suburban backyards. They contain trees, shrubs and herbaceous plants. These provide not only food but cover for wildlife. The five gardens are the butterfly, moth and hummingbird garden, the lawn, native plants garden, suburban garden, and small city garden.[11] The Wall Custance Memorial Forest is a program that is linked to the Wall-Custance Funeral home in Guelph.[12] Donations are made to commemorate a life by having a tree planted into Memorial Forest. The Memorial Forest Trail is 1.4 km and runs parallel to the Ivey Trail. The tree or shrub is planted in Memorial Forest in either Fall or Spring. In the past 22 years, over 8500 trees and shrubs have been planted.[13]

G. Porter Memorial Japanese Garden

The garden was dedicated to the memory of David Porter in June 1995. The salutation gateway greets visitors. Along with the Kenninji-Gaki bamboo fence the garden boasts a stone bridge that takes visitors across a reflecting pool. Beyond the bridge is a small teahouse. The teahouse allows visitors to escape stress and to attain serenity. The garden contains woody and herbaceous plants that follow a specific theme.[14] Features of Twentieth- Century American landscaping were taken from traditional European gardens.[3] However the new limitations of urban living make certain features of the European garden unsuitable. As such there has been a renewed interest in Oriental landscaping. Japanese gardens have been of particular interest as they use few well- chosen features including the use of evergreens which make them well suitable for urban environments. It is now more common to see elements like those included in this Japanese garden, which use naturalistic groupings of plants, in European and American designs.

Part of the English Garden

Edna and Frank C. Miller English Garden

This garden demonstrates a British style of gardening. The garden was dedicated in the memory of Edna and Frank Miller in September 1998. The garden boasts a sheared beech and cedar hedge forming a symmetrical pattern of walls. Boxwood hedges circle two gardens: The Nancy and Dr. Anthony Casper’s Perennial Gardens. The pergolas throughout the garden are used to view different parts of the garden. The two views of trees in the landscape were chosen based on their form and stature. The trees chosen were a silver maple and an English oak. The garden also has a sundial.[15]


The hours of operation are different for the grounds and the Arboretum Centre. The Arboretum Centre is open from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Monday–Friday. The grounds are open from dawn to dusk, Monday–Sunday, all year round.


The Arboretum, administered through the Ontario Agricultural College at the University of Guelph, provides a variety of programs and workshops year-round and serves as a significant visitor attraction for the citizens of Guelph and Ontario. Whether individuals come for the scenery, a place to study or hold an event there are many things The Arboretum has to offer its visitors.

When arriving at The Arboretum there are brochures available at the entrance (and throughout the grounds) for self-guided tours of the grounds. Admission to The Arboretum grounds is free.[16]

Walks and tours

Fountain in the Italian Garden

The Arboretum offers 1 1/2 hour group walks led by Arboretum Auxiliary Docents with a registration requirement. In the summer there are walks offered every Wednesday between June 1 – August 3. The walk begins at the J.C. Taylor Centre, commencing at 7 p.m. and ending at 8:30 p.m. Lastly there are Interpretative Tours which are led by Arboretum staff and are between 1–3 hours. The tour includes interpretations of the use of plants for horticultural or naturalization plantings. It is possible to customize the focus of your tour to be education based, natural history, wildlife or horticultural.

Part of the Ivey Trail


Ivey Trail

The Ivey Trail is distinguished by white “IVEY” on the trail posts, the brochure at the information kiosk will also be able to guide you through this 1.1 km trail. It begins at the entrance to The Arboretum and ends at the J.C. Taylor Nature Centre. Ivey trail features access to most of The Arboretum’s other trail systems because it runs along the centre of The Arboretum.

Trillium Trail

It is a 2.0 km loop that passes through 10 plant collections and crosses many other Arboretum trails. Trillium trail features over 30 species and varieties of native and exotic trees, and it will also take you to the Roy Hammond Rotary Tree Grove. This trail is even accessible in the winter for those cross-country skiers.


Throughout the year there are a wide variety of workshops that The Arboretum offers. From a workshop on owls, mushrooms or shrubs to sketching nature, wildflower photography and garden design. To see the current offerings it is best to check the calendar on the University of Guelph Arboretum website. [17]

Rental facilities

The Arboretum can be used for a wide variety of events, such as weddings, meetings, conferences, banquets, fundraising events and fashion shows. There is an Auditorium, Boardroom, Sunroom and the outdoor Conifer rental space for ceremonies. All of the rental facilities offer catering services provided by the University of Guelph Hospitality Services, smoke-free environment, wheelchair accessibility and free parking. Details on packages and capacity can be found at the Guelph Arboretum website. [18]

Painting on the Green

The outdoor art exhibition, Painting on the Green, has been held as an annual event since June 1960. It was originally called the Outdoor Art Exhibition when it was started by the Guelph Creative Arts Association (GCAA). The exhibition has been held at the University of Guelph Arboretum for the past three years. Over 40 professional and young artists display their paintings, photography, and other works of art at this event.[19]

Gene Bank

In 1979 the Arboretum created a gene bank for all known populations of rare woody plants in Ontario. There are currently over 20 species that have much of their genetic diversity archived here. For example, the endangered Canadian Cucumber Tree (Magnolia acuminata) has genetic information that is preserved here. The goal of this project has been to monitor and preserve the status of these rare woody plants and to inform landowners of them. [20]


The Guelph Arboretum upholds a membership with the American Association of Botanical Gardens and Arboreta, Botanic Gardens Conservation International (BGCI), the Canadian Biodiversity information Network (CBIN) and the Canadian Botanical Conservation Network (CBCN). This Arboretum also holds seed exchanges with organizations from around the world, they use wild seeds collected in an ecologically responsible manner, surplus material from the Arboretum itself, and seeds collected by volunteers from their gardens. These memberships and programs allow the Guelph Arboretum to work towards conservation of plants and research.

See also


  1. ^ a b Gonsalves, Kevin (2013). "Welcome to our new Arboretum Director: Dr. Shelley Hunt!". University of Guelph. Retrieved May 15, 2013.
  2. ^ a b c d Ontario Agricultural College (2011). Guelph Arboretum Grounds. Retrieved July 13, 2010.
  3. ^ a b Simpson, Beryl B.; Ogorzaly, Molly C. (2001). Economic Botany; Plants in our world. McGraw- Hill. ISBN 978-0-07-290938-8.
  4. ^ Volunteer Centre of Guelph (2011). Guelph Arboretum Grounds. Retrieved July 13, 2010.
  5. ^ El Dorado Weather (2011). Guelph Arboretum Climate Statistics. Retrieved July 19, 2010.
  6. ^ The Weather Network (2011). Plant Hardiness zones. Retrieved July 19, 2010.
  7. ^ a b Ontario Agricultural College (2011). Guelph Arboretum Rose Garden. Retrieved July 14, 2010.
  8. ^ a b Ontario Agricultural College (2011). Guelph Arboretum Rhododendron Collection. Retrieved July 14, 2010.
  9. ^ a b Ontario Agricultural College (2011). Guelph Arboretum World of Trees Collection. Retrieved July 14, 2010.
  10. ^ a b Ontario Agricultural College (2011). Guelph Arboretum Dwarf Conifer Collection. Retrieved July 14, 2010.
  11. ^ Ontario Agricultural College (2010). Guelph Arboretum Gosling Wildlife Gardens. Retrieved July 14, 2010.
  12. ^ Wall-Custance Funeral Home Ltd (2011). Wall-Custance Funeral Home Guelph. Retrieved July 14, 2010.
  13. ^ Ontario Agricultural College (2011). Guelph Arboretum Wall Custance Memorial Forest. Retrieved July 14, 2010.
  14. ^ Ontario Agricultural College (2011). Guelph Arboretum Japanese Garden. Retrieved July 14, 2010.
  15. ^ Ontario Agricultural College (2011). Guelph Arboretum English Garden. Retrieved July 14, 2010.
  16. ^ Ontario Agricultural College (2011). Guelph Arboretum Tours and Walks. Retrieved July 10, 2010.
  17. ^ Ontario Agricultural College (2011). Guelph Arboretum Workshops. Retrieved July 10, 2010.
  18. ^ Ontario Agricultural College (2011). Guelph Arboretum Rental Facilities. Retrieved July 10, 2010.
  19. ^ Guelph Tribune (2011). Guelph Painting on the green. Retrieved July 13, 2010.
  20. ^ Ontario Agricultural College (2011). Guelph Arboretum Gene Bank. Retrieved July 15, 2010.

External links

Media related to The Arboretum (University of Guelph) at Wikimedia Commons