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From the Director

Welcome to the Hofstra University Arboretum!

I’d like to share some of the newest developments around campus:

Fred Soviero
Parking field #6A, north of the Varsity Soccer Complex.

Parking field #6A, north of the Varsity Soccer Complex.
For the past three years, the Grounds Department has been given the opportunity and funding to ‘green’ portions of our North Campus, particularly those open areas that make up our parking fields. This North Campus beautification program now continues with multiple green traffic-calming walkways that will be installed through parking field #6 (north of Human Resources) and #6A (north of the Soccer Complex). These raised pedestrian walkways will be landscaped on each side with new shade trees, low-growing shrubs, and an assortment of ground covers. The pavement will be raised up to the height of the adjacent walks and patios, thereby eliminating the need to ramp down to road level and ramp back up to walkway grade. This is where the traffic calming (slowing of vehicles) comes in: they are basically raised speed bumps which are six inches high and eight feet wide. This new feature will provide a safe yet attractive way of walking through the parking lot.

The memorial “Garden of Ellie,” located on the southeast corner of the New Academic Building.  Sculpture by Peter Homestead.

The memorial “Garden of Ellie,” located on the southeast corner of the New Academic Building. Sculpture by Peter Homestead.
Since the late 1970s, Hofstra has been developing our campus landscape as an arboretum. The major player in that development has been our Hofstra community. Administrators, faculty, staff, students, and alumni have been leading that charge through donations and honorariums for memorials and plaques. These gifts fund the arboretum endowment for installation and maintenance. Throughout campus, there are presently more than 250 gardens, trees, benches, and even a great blue heron sculpture perched on a rock, dedicated by the Class of 1943.

Some of the most recent gifts include:

  • The “Garden of Ellie” in memory of Ellie Greenwich, on the southeast corner of the New Academic Building.
  • Honey Locust tree in memory of Branden Sparks, south patio of the Hofstra Northwell School of Medicine.
  • Lavender Crape Myrtle tree in memory of Maureen Gedman, north berm of the School of Medicine.
  • Bench in front (east) of Barnard Hall in memory of Daniel Louis Didden

See our full listing of plaques and memorials.

The LI Gold Medal Plant Award winner for 2000, Corylopsis pauciflora or Buttercup Winterhazel, in front of Memorial Hall, early April.

The LI Gold Medal Plant Award winner for 2000, Corylopsis pauciflora or Buttercup Winterhazel, in front of Memorial Hall, early April.
I’d like to tell you about the Long Island Gold Medal Plant Program’s award winners for 2016.  I am a founding member of this volunteer program, which, since 1999, has been identifying and promoting exceptional ornamental plants that will thrive in the Long Island home landscape. Increased public education and awareness of sustainable plant selections are the main goals of the program. Four award-winning plants, which can include trees, shrubs, perennials, vines, groundcovers or grasses, are selected each year.  We have recently added annuals to this list.

Our first annual winner is a spider flower cross called Cleome x Senorita Rosalita which will attain a compact habit of three feet tall and a two-foot spread, palm shaped leaves, with  thorn-less stems and sterile (no seedlings) pink/lavender flowers from spring to frost.

The second annual winner for 2016 are the much improved hybrids of the traditional annual wax begonias, the “Whopper” and “Big” begonia series. Both feature exceptionally large, showy flowers reaching three inches across, with a plant size of 24 to 30 inches in height.  They boast vivid red and rosy pink flowers with shiny waxy leaves of green or bronze.

The perennial winner is the Itoh Peony Hybrids. It is a cross between a herbaceous peony and tree peony. Grown in full sun, it produces multiple flowers supported by strong stems with handsome foliage. These plants maintain great looking leaves long after blooming.

Our tree choice for this year is the Pinus flexilis or Limber Pine. This dark green and tightly growing conifer is an excellent choice for smaller properties. This tree will max out at 35 to 50 feet In height and the popular hybrid most offered in the trade is VanderWolf’s Pyramid which maintains a more pyramidal upright habit. The salt tolerance on Limber Pine is much greater than our stately Eastern White Pine and half the size.

Many of the Long Island Gold Medal Plant Committee’s award winners through the years grow on Hofstra’s campus.  Come for a tour or visit, or ask for them at your local retail nursery.

The ‘Three Bears’ sculpture by Paul Manship with ornamental grasses blooming.

The ‘Three Bears’ sculpture by Paul Manship with ornamental grasses blooming.
The snow cover that lasted through most of January and February 2015 was a good thing for insulating the root systems to our trees, shrubs and perennial plants, while the minus-3 degree temperatures helped reduce overwintering insect populations.  A very recent insect to our area is the southern pine beetle from Texas and Oklahoma -- a devastating insect which seems to have blown north and east, possibly due to Hurricane Sandy.  Following a major wind pattern, they landed in the Pine Barrens of New Jersey and then the Pine Barrens of Long Island, where they are now killing hundreds of acres of Pitch Pines. They have also been spotted in the North Shore town of Oyster Bay. This is not an easy insect to control and we will be monitoring our trees in the coming seasons to try and keep this pests’ introduction contained.

The south edge of Liberty Park showing a group of dwarf Fox Valley River Birch.

The south edge of Liberty Park showing a group of dwarf Fox Valley River Birch.
Lastly, I’d like to mention a surprise park area that has been created in the place of two temporary buildings that were removed in the northeast corner of the North Campus, just west of Hofstra USA. The void left by the buildings has been filled with clean soil, graded, and seeded with turf grass. This green space, presently called Liberty Park from the name of one of the removed buildings, will prove to be a popular spot for our students to enjoy.

This park area has been left with some notable trees that are worth mentioning:

On the northern end closest to the new Wellness Center are three Oxydendron arborea trees, known as the Sourwood or Sorrel tree. We have only five specimens of this tree on campus and these three vary in size and habit. They are particularly showy in summer when the white panicles dangle from the branch tips (giving it one of its common names, Lily of the Valley Tree), and in autumn when the beige-colored seed pods contrast with the scarlet foliage.

On the southwest corner of this property is the grouping of Fox Valley River Birch. They are extremely slow-growing variants of our native River Birch that have the same wonderful exfoliating bark. After 20 years on campus, they are just 18 feet tall.

Just east of the River Birch is our oldest Evodia hupehensis (Tetradium daniellii ), Korean Evodia with its  large compound leaves and white summer flowers, which in turn produce the showiest period of this tree’s year, the showy red fruit sets through autumn.

Next in line, to the east, is a group of three 40 foot tall Chamaecyparis nootkatensis ‘Pendula’, called the Alaskan Brown Cedar, one of our most graceful native conifers from the Pacific Northwest.

We recently transplanted seven Aesculus parviflora, the Bottlebrush Buckeye, and planted them on the west border of Liberty Park in order to mask the traffic along Oak Street. These are some of our largest flowering native deciduous shrubs.  They will grow easily to 10 feet in height and 15 feet in spread.  I love the large palmate leaves all through the growing season and the flowers are pure white upright panicles, often 10 to 12 inches in height, producing a candelabra effect.

Other notable trees on the property are some older Pinus strobus (our native Eastern White Pine), Prunus serrulata ‘Kwanzan’ (the double pink flowering Japanese Cherry), a couple of middle-age Tilia cordata (the Littleleaf Lindens), and some Kousa Dogwoods. A nice group of Callicarpa or Purple Beautyberry line the front driveway of the Wellness Center. These can be spectacular in autumn especially with the removal of the large White Pine and the building to the west. This additional sunshine will help produce additional fruit set.

Visit In Bloom to see the many wonders of the Hofstra Arboretum.  Or stroll over to our campus and enjoy, any time of the year! It is a great way to get ideas for your own garden, taking note of just which week or month you can expect different varieties to bloom, berry, or just look interesting right here on Long Island.

Fred Soviero
Director of the Hofstra University Arboretum