Upon the Arboretum's 281 acres grow 15,000 trees, shrubs and vines, each of which is scientifically documented and available for teaching or research.
The Arboretum's story begins with two interesting partnerships. First Harvard University curates the collections and maintains the landscape, while the city, which owns the land and has leased it to the school for 1,000 years, maintains the infrastructure. The other partnership is that of Frederick Law Olmsted and Charles Sprague Sargent.
In their collaboration, Sargent was the scientist who collected and sited thousands of specimens by genus (or family). Olmsted was the designer who laid out the road system and overall planting scheme to ensure a natural look in harmony with the rest of the Necklace.
Thanks to the two men's dedication, the Arboretum today displays world renowned collections of maples, crabapples, lilacs and rhododendrons, as well as the many other trees and shrubs that can grow in our climate. Come anytime, there is always something making a beautiful impression, including the top of Peters Hill which offers one of Boston's best vistas.
In 1880 Frederick Law Olmsted wrote of the Arboretum site, "On (these) acres much the best arboretum in the world can be formed." Today, his words seem prophetic.
The Emerald Necklace Conservancy is a non-profit citizen's advocacy group whose mission is to protect, restore, maintain and promote the landscape, waterways and parkways of the Emerald Necklace park system as special places for people to visit and enjoy. The organization focuses on the six parks designed by Frederick Law Olmsted.