Guide to Connecticut Arboretums

March 16, 2012 5:00 AM

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By Kim McNeill

Once the ground begins to emerge from its snowy blanket, the desire to explore the outdoors cannot be denied. Connecticut’s seasonal variation is a bounty for the senses all year long. It is a joy to head out in the spring and find the bare tree tips colored with the buds of new growth. Listen for frogs and other animals emerging from their winter’s sleep.Arboretums offer a fascinating way to enjoy the outdoors. They are specifically designed to impart knowledge about plant resources. Think of arboretums as plant zoos. Our opportunity to learn about plant species, local species and ones we may not get to see in person otherwise.

Special tip: Heading to an arboretum in the spring or fall? Consider shoes that will do well in muddy conditions.

Bartlett Arboretum
151 Brookdale Road
Stamford, CT 06903
(203) 322-6971
Hours: 9:00 a.m. – Sunset
Admission $6 for adults, free for children under 12, and free on Wednesdays.

The Bartlett Arboretum is run by the University of Connecticut. The Bartlett is a very active location with classes for adults and children along with guided tours. The University conducts live research at the arboretum as well.

If you prefer to meander at your own pace, you can enjoy a self-guided tour with maps available in the Visitor Center. You can tour the more landscaped areas and gardens for their beauty.

Part of the 91 acres is also left natural. The arboretum features a number of late-winter and spring-blooming wildflowers and a wooden walkway to make enjoying the area around the wetlands easier.

cbg bench Guide to Connecticut Arboretums

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Connecticut College Arboretum
270 Mohegan Ave
New London, CT 06320
(860) 439-5060
Hours: Sunrise to sunset everyday
Admission: Free

This particular arboretum, located in New London, CT has a special feature. The 750 acres includes the college campus. While walking around the campus, be sure to read the plaques identifying the various specimen trees from around the world.

Once you have explored the campus, you can enjoy the Caroline Black Garden with 187 different types of trees, shrubs, and grasses from all over the world. On a garden-like four acres, have a short stroll. Gather inspiration for your own gardens.

The Native Plant collection encompasses 25 acres. There are nature trails throughout. A guided tour is available on Sundays in the summer.

A special treat is the 2 acre Wildflower Garden. Enjoy many types of ferns and wildflowers. The display peaks in May.

The Connecticut College Arboretum is also dedicated to helping the public interact with nature. Enjoy special sales on the property or a class for children or adults.

shrub2sm Guide to Connecticut Arboretums

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The Arboretum of Evolution
Dinosaur State Park
400 West Street
Rocky Hill, CT 06067
(860) 529-8423
Hours: 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.
Admission: Free

Take a giant step back in time. How native would you like to see your plants? The landscape of Connecticut looked very different 100 million years ago. Many of the species here today could be classified as invasive.

For families who are looking for a truly native landscape, enjoy a look at some close relatives of the plants that populated our state when the dinosaurs were still around. There are 250 species included on the grounds. Maps are available for self-guided tours.

Kim McNeill writes at Nutmeg Families, is a publisher with Macaroni Kid of Southbury, Middlebury, Roxbury, Bridgewater, and Oxford, Connecticut, a hyper-local community website for families, and also blogs about more Connecticut family fun at Hearst Connecticut Media Group.

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