The Buzz of Construction

As I type these words in early May, the buzz of construction can be heard in and around Secrest's John Streeter Garden Amphitheater. Thanks to a $40,000 grant from the Wayne County Community Foundation, we have embarked on a major renovation project aimed at improving public access and safety, as well as enhancing the appearance of this cherished amenity.Improvements to the amphitheater

After a few years of hosting our summer "Music in the Arboretum" concert series in partnership with Friends of Secrest Arboretum and Ohio Music, Arts, and Cultural Outreach (ORMACO), it became clear that certain upgrades would allow easier and safer access to concert patrons, as well as those visiting the amphitheater for weddings and other special events.

A concern for visitors with mobility issues inspired the need to provide smoother entry pathways. As a result, we have contracted with TR Snyder Construction to remove the existing paver walkway that had begun to sink and undulate and install a new cement walkway leading down to the center portion of the amphitheater. This new path will terminate at a
large landing with safety railings to accommodate wheelchair or scooter users.

A similar entry path and landing is also being installed at the upper entrance along the Berry Walkway. Thanks to visitor feedback, railings will be added along existing stairways throughout the amphitheater. We are grateful to the Wayne County Community Foundation for recognizing the value of this project as well as to Friends of Secrest Arboretum for securing said funding on our behalf.

The Herms/Nielsen Discovery Pavilion Garden is also a hub of activity this spring. We have been at work installing new features and plantings to familiarize visitors with the many "edimental" (edible AND ornamental) plants available to Ohio homeowners.

Improvements to the amphitheaterLast fall, we collaborated with an ATI Sustainable Agriculture class to design and build a large tunnellike structure to support multiple varieties of hardy kiwi vine (Actinidia arguta). This spring, arboretum staff built a similar structure on the north side of the Discovery Pavilion upon which we can grow a related species, Actinidia kolomikta, that prefers a
shadier position.

Other additions include a rock-lined raised bed replete with ericaceous groundcover species including lingonberry (Vaccinium vitis-idaea), cranberry (V. macrocarpon), and box huckleberry (Gaylussacia brachycera). Perhaps the most conspicuous additions are three colorful obelisks to support multiple cultivars of our native passionflower or maypop (Passiflora incarnata). Other new plants include several varieties of alpine or woodland strawberry (Fragaria vesca), Nanking cherry (Prunus tomentosa), and a mass of Regent
serviceberry, also known as Saskatoon (Amelanchier alnifolia ‘Regent’).

Finally, we are pleased to welcome this summer's Horticulture Intern, Emily Barnes. A native of Massillon, Emily is an ATI student studying horticulture. We hope that her summer at Secrest will help instill a lifelong love of plants and prepare her for a rewarding career in the field of horticulture.

---Jason Veil, Curator