May 6, 2021

Garden Mornings and Early Light: An Insider’s Look at the Botanical Garden

By Sabrina Kozsey, HF&G Gardener

HF&G Gardener Sabrina Kozsey gives a glimpse of the beauty of mornings in our outdoor gardens before we are open to the public with a photo essay of the botanical garden’s spring blooms.

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Garden Mornings and Early Light: An Insider’s Look at the Botanical Garden

May 5, 2021

Arbor Day Behind-the-Scenes: Plants, Pots, People

HF&G Nursery Manager Greg Wright gives us a behind-the-scenes look at the redbud seedling preparation and giveaway for Arbor Day 2021.

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Arbor Day Behind-the-Scenes: Plants, Pots, People

April 21, 2021

Holden Forests & Gardens Awarded $200,000 Grant from The Cleveland Foundation for People for Trees

CLEVELAND) March 30, 2021 – Holden Forests & Gardens (HF&G) has received a generous $200,000 grant from the Cleveland Foundation to support People for Trees™, a public awareness initiative that encourages and empowers residents in communities across Northeast Ohio to plant and care for a tree, beginning with making a pledge. The aim is to have 15,000 new trees planted by 2025.

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Holden Forests & Gardens Awarded $200,000 Grant from The Cleveland Foundation for People for Trees

April 21, 2021

Holden Forests & Gardens Launches People for Trees

One of the most significant things we can do to combat the effects of a changing climate right here in Northeast Ohio is to plant a tree. Today, Holden Forests & Gardens (HF&G) is launching a new initiative called People for Trees™ to make it easier for each of us to get involved with this solution.

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Holden Forests & Gardens Launches People for Trees

April 21, 2021

Hundreds of Colorful Butterflies Return to the Cleveland Botanical Garden’s Glasshouse



To celebrate the arrival of spring in a big way, Holden Forest & Gardens presents Return of the Butterflies at the Cleveland Botanical Garden – a visual treat with more than 600 newly emerged butterflies in Costa Rica biome beginning Saturday, April 3rd.



The butterflies in the Costa Rica biome will bring the Glasshouse to life—amazing, colorful, moving, exhilarating life and you’ll see them actively searching for nectar as food sources, flying around. “The sheer proliferation of butterflies is a memorable experience,” says Jillian Slane, director of exhibits and experiences. “You get to interact with them when you walk through the Glasshouse,” she relates. “It’s a strong bond and connection to nature.”

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Hundreds of Colorful Butterflies Return to the Cleveland Botanical Garden’s Glasshouse

April 21, 2021

Holden Forests & Gardens Celebrates Trees Leading up to Arbor Day with Community Plantings, Free Admission, Tree Seedling Giveaway & More

April is one of the most important months of the year for our Northeast Ohio community and the health of our planet. It is the month where we observe the national Arbor Day holiday on Friday, April 30th which translates to “tree” day from the Latin origin of the word. All month long we celebrate the planting, care and preservation of trees. And on Friday April 30th, we have free admission day at the Cleveland Botanical Garden and the Holden Arboretum.

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April 21, 2021

Restoration. Rejuvenation. Fresh start. It’s time to get back in shape. It’s time to get pruning!

By Caroline Tait, Vice President of Horticulture and Collections

This spring sees the Sears Swetland Rose Garden, Topiary Garden and Alleé at Cleveland Botanical Garden start their transformation journeys. These garden spaces are connected visually and physically by multiple examples of yew (Taxus sp. and cultivars). From formal low hedging, to cloud-like masses, from a 10ft+ wide hedge to upright candles and columns, and largest of all, an informal serpentine hedge running the length of Topiary.

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Restoration. Rejuvenation. Fresh start. It’s time to get back in shape. It’s time to get pruning!

April 21, 2021

Behind-the-Scenes Photos from an HF&G Gardener

By Bernadette Gallagher, Gardener

One of my favorite things about working at the Cleveland Botanical Garden is all the things I get to see. The plants and trees are a highlight of course, but there is so much more! Animal surprises, fresh-falllen snow before opening, patterns made by fallen leaves, and the change of seasons are all beautiful benefits that are built right into my job.  Let’s look at some photos that I’ve taken. We’ll start with last autumn and go right up to last week.

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Behind-the-Scenes Photos from an HF&G Gardener

April 21, 2021

Holden Scientists and Volunteers Gear Up for Spring in the Forest

By Katie Stuble, PhD, Scientist

I had a moment of panic last week. It was the crocuses that did me in, if you can believe it!  Well, the crocuses and climate change. I’m a scientist, and an experiment was on the line.

This year will mark four years of spring phenology monitoring in Bole Woods. Phenology is the study of the timing of natural events, and we’ve been monitoring the timing of the spring greening of Holden’s forests. This sort of monitoring helps us understand how species may (or may not) be able to track the changing climate, and anticipate potential changes in our natural world.

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Holden Scientists and Volunteers Gear Up for Spring in the Forest

April 21, 2021

HF&G Celebrates International Day of Forests

By Rachel Kappler, Forest Health Coordinator

March 21st is not only the spring solstice but also International Day of Forests, a day of awareness and celebration of our forests started by the United Nations General Assembly. This year’s theme is, “Forest Restoration, a path to recovery and well-being”. You can read more here.

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HF&G Celebrates International Day of Forests

April 21, 2021

Holden Scientists were Wildly Curious about Wild Leek

By Sarah Kyker, PhD, Postdoctoral Research Associate

The old growth remnant forests in Stebbins Gulch are locations at Holden Arboretum that David Burke and his lab have been studying for years. Burke first began hiking to the old growth portions of Stebbins Gulch back in 2006. One thing that he and Charlotte Hewins noticed every spring was the immense cover of wild leek (Allium tricoccum) on the forest floor. “Come April when the leeks are fully emerged, there is nowhere to step that isn’t completely covered in them,” Hewins once told me. In April of 2008, I saw it for myself and it took my breath away. Forest floors were supposed to be brown and covered in decaying leaves. But, the forest floor of Stebbins Gulch that April (and every April after) was green due to numerous wild leek leaves unfurling toward the sun!

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Holden Scientists were Wildly Curious about Wild Leek

April 20, 2021

Behind-the-Scenes Look at Storm Damage Recovery Work

By Rick Anielski, Arborist

I think we can all say that the storm we experienced back in early December is still weighing heavy on our minds, especially since the damage it caused is still quite evident. The beautiful trails are littered with debris and trees lay broken or completely uprooted. Unfortunately, we have seen quite a few trees that were too far gone for help. There are many, though, that can be saved and have required us to contract out the work due to the scope of the project. However, there are some trees we are able to help recover ourselves. I found such a one in the slow growing Conifer Collection. The fifty foot Chinese pine (Pinus tabuliformis) was damaged from high winds and heavy snow loading which caused many of the branches to reach their breaking point. It seemed that no part of the tree was spared as there was damage from the base of the tree to almost the very top. We knew about the damage soon after the storm had ended, but we wanted to make sure we properly assessed the damage to all the affected trees. After a lot of work in other collections throughout the Arboretum, I was finally able to make it out to this specific tree. Luckily, I had a nice day for the work. With the sun shining, I was able to finally go aloft and work on giving this tree a second chance.

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Behind-the-Scenes Look at Storm Damage Recovery Work

April 20, 2021

What makes a native tree become invasive?

By Randy Long, PhD, Postdoctoral Scholar

Invasive species. The term brings to mind organisms that have been moved around by people, either accidentally or for a purpose, that are now causing problems. For example, here in Ohio we are plagued by invasive plants like garlic mustard, which was introduced by European settlers, that outcompetes native plants and is costly to remove. But in some occasions native plants become invasive and expand their ranges and replace other native species. One such plant is eastern red cedar (Juniperus virginiana), which is expanding its range westward into remnant grasslands as well as expanding into new niches within its historic range. The range expansion of native plants does beg the question, does it matter? Does the replacement of one native with another native harm the ecosystem? Our case of the slow invasion of red cedar (unaffectionately called the green glacier) is causing concern since it is expanding into historic grasslands, many of which have already been converted to agriculture or urban areas. Replacement by red cedar in these areas may cause endemic species to become endangered or go extinct. To better understand why this native plant is becoming invasive the ecology and physiology of red cedar needs to be examined more closely.

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What makes a native tree become invasive?

April 20, 2021

Understanding How Trees Respond to Their Urban Environment

By Sharon Danielson, MS, Doctoral Graduate Student

As urban areas expand, they leave isolated forest patches in their wake. The effects of urban areas such as higher temperatures, water flow changes, and increased pollution are not limited to the city, however, and can cause a ripple effect through the surrounding areas. I want to know how forests are shaped by their neighboring cities. I study the anatomical and physiological traits of trees that will help us understand if, and how, trees are able to respond to the urban environment. I also plan to investigate one of the most under-studied aspects of urban forests—Can the seedlings from urban trees, such as the red maples shown in the photos here, inherit traits from their parents that differ from those in rural forests? To do this I am collecting samaras (maple seeds) from red maple trees growing in urban and rural forests. I will grow them in a greenhouse and, when the seedlings have grown, I will see how they differ in leaf structure and function. This is the very first step to exploring how urban forests of the future will function.

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Understanding How Trees Respond to Their Urban Environment

April 19, 2021

Urban Trees

By Sharon Danielson, MS, Doctoral Graduate Student

Urban Trees have been getting a lot of attention in the scientific and sociological worlds lately. Trees provide many benefits including shade in the warm urban areas, mental health improvement, and particulate matter capture. While the benefits trees provide for humans are numerous, we also need to understand how the stress of the urban environment affects tree function and survival. The urban environment can be a stressful environment for plants due to the elevated temperatures, compact soils, and elevated carbon dioxide levels in the atmosphere. These stressors have the potential to negatively impact the benefits the trees provide. Urban foresters are keenly aware of the impact on tree growth and lifespan and have been studying the success of urban tree species and planting techniques for decades. Many have explored the best tree species and cultivars to plant in an urban environment and how trees in the city (i.e. street trees) are negatively impacted by the heat and compacted soil of these areas.

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Urban Trees

March 29, 2021

Harnessing microbiomes in crabapples: II. Getting seeds for testing microbiome functions

Plants are associated with numerous microorganisms in the wild. Some of these microorganisms are beneficial but others, such as pathogens, can be harmful to plants. Thus, maintaining a healthy microbiome is key to plant health. For crabapples (i.e. the wild apples, Malus), we have observed that some crabapple cultivars/species are more disease resistant than others at the National Crabapple Evaluation Project Plot at Holden. Our previous work published on the Malus: International Ornamental Crabapple Society Bulletin with Holden students Jessica LaBella and Eve Kaufman has identified many fungi associated with crabapples.

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Harnessing microbiomes in crabapples: II. Getting seeds for testing microbiome functions

March 29, 2021

Detecting Changes in the Natural World

The Holden Arboretum is a stunning place to explore with its beautiful gardens and forests. I love to hike the trails with my family and watch the gardens transform over the seasons. But, as a scientist who studies the impacts of climate change, the Arboretum is also a treasure-trove of information. Natural areas like the ones protected by the Arboretum are increasingly rare and hugely important not only as sanctuaries for wildlife, but also as spaces in which to study it. And, given the stresses currently placed on the Earth, this role is perhaps more important today than ever.

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Detecting Changes in the Natural World

March 29, 2021

A Lady’s Slipper Update on the Eve of Orchids Forever

A lot of science and conservation is learning by doing, so I would like to provide an update on our lady’s slipper orchid conservation project. This is our first time growing orchids from seed. On December 11, 2020, Field Station Specialist Jing Wang and I sowed seeds of Cypripedium reginae, the showy lady’s slipper, collected in a Holden natural area. Details of the first steps can be seen in a previous blog entry here. It has now been nine weeks since we sowed the seeds, and we have good news to report. We have germination!

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March 28, 2021

Biotic Homogenization – Changes in biodiversity with urbanization in vacant lots

The current biodiversity crisis seen in headlines has many overarching implications for ecosystems worldwide. Humans frequently aid in the dispersal of non-native species through both accidental and intentional introductions. Urban areas, as hotspots of human activity and disturbance, are thought to contribute to the spread of non-native species and create similar environmental pressures worldwide. Altogether, urbanization is thought to contribute to the increasing similarity of biotic communities, a process known as biotic homogenization.

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March 28, 2021

The Life Beneath the Snow

The month of January, with its freezing temperatures and leaf-less trees, is a time when it’s easy to think of nature as dormant. While this might be true for deciduous trees and hibernating animals, this is far from true for soil organisms, such as fungi. These decomposers are very active during the winter decomposing the leaf litter that fell just months prior! Snow cover is beneficial for this decomposition because it insulates the ground and keeps the soil from freezing. Snow cover does more than just keep the soil from freezing, it keeps soil temperatures stable. The soil ecology lab at HF&G has been monitoring soil temperatures in the forests of Stebbins Gulch since 2006. Soil temperature loggers record soil temperature every 8 minutes throughout the year. Year after year, soils in the winter are stable and typically just above freezing. Once the spring arrives and the snow cover is no longer constant, soil temperatures become much more variable. The now exposed soils can more easily freeze with cold night-time air temperatures and then thaw with the warmer air temperatures of the day.

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The Life Beneath the Snow

March 28, 2021

Meeting the Grand Botanic Garden Challenge at Holden Forests & Gardens

When we consider the major challenges facing humanity today, it is exciting to think that plants can provide a myriad of sustainable solutions. Problems with water quality, our dependence on fossil fuels, food insecurity, and even emerging human diseases can all be addressed, if only we can find the right plant for the job. Plants have amazing capabilities to alter ecosystem function and soothe our ailments, and over evolutionary time they have adapted and acclimated to inhabit nearly every environment on earth, with their ability to capture energy from sunlight forming the basis of life as we know it.

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Meeting the Grand Botanic Garden Challenge at Holden Forests & Gardens

March 28, 2021

How do deer and forest edges shape Northeast Ohio forests?

One of Northeast Ohio’s most charismatic consumer of plants within our forests is the white-tailed deer. Perhaps you’ve even noticed their impacts in your own backyard garden. As yards and people take up more space, there are fewer large tracts of intact forests to support predatory animals (e.g., bear or bobcat) relying on those habitats. This lack of predators combines with an abundant supply of food for deer (possibly the hostas planted in your backyard), to drive high numbers of white-tailed deer in most Ohio forests (and beyond).

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How do deer and forest edges shape Northeast Ohio forests?

March 28, 2021

Sowing Orchid Seeds In Vitro

Orchids are among the most ornamental and diverse groups of plants in the world. We often think of them as epiphytes, growing on trees in the tropics. Many would be surprised to know that there are orchids native to Ohio and that they do not grow in trees. Our native orchids grow in the ground and are called terrestrial orchids. Ohio has approximately 47 native orchid species, and of them, the lady’s slippers may be the showiest.

Ohio has 5 native species of lady’s slippers (genus Cypripedium) and one naturally occurring hybrid. Holden has three of these species growing in our natural areas. Lady’s slippers are characterized by a modified sepal, or labellum, that is shaped, you guessed it, like a lady’s slipper. This labellum serves to attract pollinators, mainly bees, to the orchid. Once a lady’s slipper is pollinated, a fruit called a capsule forms and maturity splits open to disperse thousands of tiny, dust-like seeds.

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Sowing Orchid Seeds In Vitro

March 28, 2021

The Biodiversity Belowground: Celebrating World Soil Day

When we think of all the organisms on Earth, it’s soil that holds a substantial portion of this biodiversity. In just one teaspoon of clean, uncontaminated soil there can be up to 1 billion bacterial cells and close to 1 million different microbial species. Soils can harbor tens of thousands of species of fungi that can help plants acquire essential nutrients, decompose organic matter, and fight pathogens belowground. Antibiotics, such as streptomycins and tetracyclines, are produced by soil bacteria and fungi. Soil biota can be essential for bioremediation, a process where pollutants are degraded and ecosystems are cleaned. Soil bacteria and fungi, along with a number of invertebrates, decompose organic matter, such as rotting logs and fallen leaves; this decomposition may be key for sequestering carbon belowground and helping to mitigate the effects of climate change.

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The Biodiversity Belowground: Celebrating World Soil Day

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