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Preserving green space

Boone County Arboretum
educates as it beautifies

Many activities planned
for Arboretum Day on June 3

By Helen E. McKinney
Contributing Writer

(June 2006) – Upon deciding that Boone County’s natural resources needed to be documented and preserved, visionaries came together to create a one of a kind attraction. The Boone County Arboretum at Central Park is a jewel in landscape horticulture.

Arboretum Group Tour

Photo provided

Group tours are popular at
Boone County Arboretum.

What makes this landscape so unique is the fact that it was the nations’ first arboretum to be incorporated in an active recreation park setting, said director Kris Stone.
Central Park is comprised of 121 acres and contains tennis courts and fields for soccer, baseball, basketball and softball, and a paved 2.3-mile walking trail.
It’s highly unusual for an arboretum to have all of these recreational opportunities, said Stone. But when put together in an outdoor horticultural education facility, the area can be used by students, community individuals and groups, and garden clubs.
The arboretum contains display gardens of trees, shrubs and herbaceous plants cultivated for scientific and educational purposes. Special attractions include a Children’s Garden, wildlife viewing area in a Native Kentucky Prairie and a new woodland walking trail.
Many classes, programs and events are held at the arboretum, including Arboretum Day on June 3, the highlight event of the year. From 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. visitors can learn about their environment and get tips on improving home landscape designs.
In addition to guided tours of the arboretum, presentations will be given from local experts such as Master Gardeners and tree experts. Vendors will display equipment, gardening gadgets, sell plants, and educational groups will discuss environmental issues. There will even be a visit from Ronald McDonald.
“It’s an excellent family event,” said Stone.
In the mid-90s, the Boone County Horticulture Advisory Council and the Boone County Cooperative Extension Service came together to devise a workable plan for this combination park-arboretum. The horticultural needs of the county were addressed at a council meeting, said Stone. The idea was born to take the county’s newest park, Central Park, and combine it with an arboretum.
This project was coordinated and funded by the Boone County Extension District Board. Dick Ammon, owner of Ammon Nurseries, volunteered to design a landscape plan for the arboretum. Countless volunteers and seven local nurseries transformed the landscape into an arboretum. Approximately 200 volunteers give of their time at the arboretum, said Stone.
There are 800 trees and 1,500 shrubs at the arboretum site, all labeled and positioned by a Global Positioning System. “The map is extremely accurate,” said Stone.
The Boone County Arboretum at Central Park includes a 41,000 linear foot irrigation system, said Stone. This ensures healthy plants even when the weather is dry. There are also three information centers located at the trails’ main entries, stocked with guide maps and general information.

Butterfly

Photo provided

A butterfly lands
on bottlebrush in a meadow.

Park officials want to expand. They are considering buying 112 acres that sits directly across the street. While there are no set plans to develop this additional acreage, Stone said it could become a botanical garden.
He would like to see formal gardens created on the additional acreage. Special themed gardens, such as a formal rose garden, are a possibility.
In addition to being a Boone County Extension Agent, Laura Kline is the volunteer event coordinator for the Friends of the Boone County Arboretum. This support group comprises the 200 volunteers at the arboretum and Kline works with a core group of 50 of these individuals who give freely of their time to maintain the arboretum.
John and Rose Bunger have been volunteering at the arboretum for several years. Rose is a Master Gardener and had participated in the Greater Cincinnati Garden Program.
“Every year it gets better,” said John Bunger of Arboretum Day. "There is a lot of local involvement and hands-on learning."
County officials are concerned with trying to maintain as much greenspace as they can, Bunger said. “The county’s really pro-active.”
The arboretum is ever-evolving and always changing with the seasons, said Bunger. Volunteers like the Bungers maintain annuals and perennial beds, bringing color and life to the arboretum year round. “There is a real variety of plants,” said Bunger.
The Boone County Arboretum at Central Park is located 25 minutes southwest from downtown Cincinnati at 9190 Camp Ernst Rd., Union, Ky.. There is no admission or parking charges and the facility is open daily from dawn to dusk.

• For more information, call Kris Stone at (859) 384-4999 or visit: www.bcarboretum.org.

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