an Independent Program of Tower Hill Botanic Garden
Auburn's Forgotten Arboretum Making a Comeback
In early June, 2017 Worcester Tree Initiative was invited to visit classes at Auburn's Swanson Road Intermediate School, formerly the Auburn Middle School. Derek, an Auburn native and an AMS alum was thrilled to have the opportunity to visit the old school and learn something about it that he had never known when he was a student there; that there is in fact an arboretum planted on the side of the building that faces Vine Street and I-290.
The arboretum was planted there in the 70’s by the late James Courville, a teacher at the school, and his students. When he tragically died in a scuba diving accident in 1978 the arboretum was left incomplete and only tended to by the periodic mowing of the hillside. However, a great-nephew of the beloved teacher came to Swanson Road Intermediate School a year or two ago and regenerated awareness and passion for the project.
Now the students of Media teacher Ms. Connell are taking on projects to generate support and interest in the arboretum such as the creation of an app, the production of news stories that get aired on Public Access television, and care projects to get the trees looking good and to plant more of the trees originally planned for the space.
Worcester Tree Initiative came in to help students identify the different species of trees in the arboretum now. Using an old map of the original plan and a current map with the actual placements of the trees everything in the grove was identified and some follow up steps were recommended. Among the trees were a Kousa Dogwood, a large old White Ash tree, a Ginkgo tree, a spruce and fir tree to show the comparison, and a honey and black locust tree, again, to show the comparison. There are many more species in the grove as well in various states of health from vivacious to verging upon the end of life. Most of the maintenance required in the grove is to remove dead wood from the trees.
It was so exciting to see young people interested in the intersection of their natural environment and the technology they are so adeptly using. WTI plans to help with the project as the school moves forward with the restoration and care of this arboretum and we’re thrilled to contribute to the ongoing legacy of James Courville.