U-M to offer ‘Grandmother Tree Walk’ tours at Nichols Arboretum throughout 2017 | Arts & Culture

U-M to offer ‘Grandmother Tree Walk’ tours at Nichols Arboretum throughout 2017

U-M to offer ‘Grandmother Tree Walk’ tours at Nichols Arboretum throughout 2017

The Weeping Japanese Cherry tree (prunus subhirtella) was planted in 1957 and can be found in Nichols Arboretum’s Dow Field. It was donated by U-M alumni living in Japan. Photo courtesy University of Michigan Matthaei Botanical Gardens and Nichols Arboretum.

Matthaei Botanical Gardens & Nichols Arboretum celebrate the University of Michigan’s Bicentennial with the Grandmother Tree Walk. The self-guided tour is a journey through Michigan time that looks at the people, places and events in the university’s 200-year history from the perspective of trees.

The tour, which kicks off this week and runs through Dec. 31, 2017, features 12 trees and their stories, and how they connect with events happening at the university when the trees started growing. Arboretum visitors can learn about such trees as the Japanese weeping cherry near the Alex Dow Field. The tree was donated to the university in 1952, along with dozens of other cherry trees, by the people of Tokyo and U-M alumni living in the city at the time. It’s a rare survivor from the original group of trees donated over 60 years ago.

The university established a botanical gardens and arboretum more than 100 years ago to give faculty and students a place close to campus for the study of trees and other native flora, says Bob Grese, director of Matthaei Botanical Gardens and Nichols Arboretum.

The Weeping Japanese Cherry tree (prunus subhirtella) was planted in 1957 and can be found in Nichols Arboretum’s Dow Field. It was donated by U-M alumni living in Japan. Photo courtesy University of Michigan Matthaei Botanical Gardens and Nichols Arboretum.
This-91-year-old White Pine (pinus strobus), was planted in ‘The Arb’ in 192, the same year that Geology professor William H. Hobbs embarked on a three-month university expedition to Greenland to explore polar wind patterns. Photo courtesy University of Michigan Matthaei Botanical Gardens and Nichols Arboretum.
The Black Cherry tree (prunus serotina) was planted in 1980 in Nichols Arboretum, the same year that The Michigan Daily—then known as the U of M Daily—began publishing. Photo courtesy University of Michigan Matthaei Botanical Gardens and Nichols Arboretum.
The 167-year-old tuliptree (Liriodendron) dates nearly to the beginning of the university. Others were added over time to mark special occasions. Photo courtesy University of Michigan Matthaei Botanical Gardens and Nichols Arboretum.
Through each stop on the Grandmother Tree Walk tour, visitors will find signs like this one with more information about the tree’s age and its relation to significant moment’s in the University of Michigan’s history. Image courtesy University of Michigan Matthaei Botanical Gardens and Nichols Arboretum.

“Celebrating the trees of Nichols Arboretum is a particularly fitting way to participate in the university’s bicentennial,” he said.

The oldest of the trees—the tuliptree at 167 years old—dates nearly to the beginning of the university, and others were added over time to coincide with special events or locations around the world being studied.

“Trees have long been one of the ways people mark the passage of time, so linking our trees with special events in the university or world history at the time they were planted is especially apropos,” Grese said.

Grandmother Tree Walk maps are available at the Washington Hts. and Geddes Rd. entrances to the Nichols Arboretum and at Matthaei Botanical Gardens. Maps are also available online, along with a story map of the walk. Image courtesy University of Michigan Matthaei Botanical Gardens and Nichols Arboretum.

Grandmother Tree Walk maps are available at the Washington Heights and Geddes Road entrances to the Arboretum and at Matthaei Botanical Gardens. Maps are also available online, along with a story map of the walk.

Later this year, the Arb and Gardens extends the tree theme for the Bicentennial with a planting of two locally grown native white oaks, one at Matthaei and one at Nichols Arboretum. Two hundred white-oak seedlings will also be given away this fall.

U-M’s Nichols Arboretum is located at 1610 Washington Heights in Ann Arbor.