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‘An awesome place to be’: Applewood celebrates arboretum’s 25th anniversary 

  • Orchard Arboretum at Applewood in Amherst, Thursday, Oct. 17, 2019. STAFF PHOTO/JERREY ROBERTS

  • Joe's Way is a pathway extension in the Orchard Arboretum at Applewood in Amherst, Thursday, Oct. 17, 2019. It is a memorial for Joseph G. Gavin, Jr. STAFF PHOTO/JERREY ROBERTS

  • Rob Claflin, who is the executive director of Applewood Loomis Communities, speaks during the 25th anniversary of the Orchard Arboretum at Applewood, Thursday, Oct. 17, 2019, at Applewood in Amherst. STAFF PHOTO/JERREY ROBERTS

  • Jack Ahern, who is a professor of landscape architecture at the University of Massachusetts, speaks during the 25th anniversary of the Orchard Arboretum at Applewood, Thursday, Oct. 17, 2019, at Applewood in Amherst. STAFF PHOTO/JERREY ROBERTS

  • John Armstrong, an Applewood resident and the treasurer of Friends of the Orchard Arboretum, speaks while emceeing the 25th anniversary of the Orchard Arboretum at Applewood, Thursday, Oct. 17, 2019, at Applewood in Amherst. STAFF PHOTO/JERREY ROBERTS

  • Applewood residents Anne G. Cann and John Armstrong listen to a speech Thursday by Jack Ahern, a professor of landscape architecture at the University of Massachusetts, during the 25th anniversary celebration of the Orchard Arboretum at Applewood. STAFF PHOTO/JERREY ROBERTS

  • Applewood resident Diana Masters made the 25th anniversary sign for the Orchard Arboretum at Applewood in Amherst. STAFF PHOTO/JERREY ROBERTS

  • Elizabeth Davis, a Applewood resident, speaks during the 25th anniversary of the Orchard Arboretum at Applewood, Thursday, Oct. 17, 2019 at Applewood in Amherst. STAFF PHOTO/JERREY ROBERTS

  • David Ziomek, who is the assistant town manager of Amherst, speaks during the 25th anniversary of the Orchard Arboretum at Applewood, Thursday, Oct. 17, 2019, at Applewood in Amherst. STAFF PHOTO/JERREY ROBERTS

  • Applewood residents have apple cake, apple cider and apples during the 25th anniversary celebration of the Orchard Arboretum at Applewood in Amherst. STAFF PHOTO/JERREY ROBERTS

  • Anne G. Cann, an Applewood resident who has been a member of Friends of the Orchard Arboretum since 2007, speaks during the 25th anniversary of the Orchard Arboretum at Applewood, Thursday, Oct. 17, 2019, at Applewood in Amherst. STAFF PHOTO/JERREY ROBERTS



Staff Writer
Saturday, October 19, 2019

AMHERST — When Diana Masters moved to Applewood Retirement Community three years ago, she worried about giving up the gardens she had long tended at her home.

Fortunately for Masters, upon getting to 1 Spencer Drive she discovered the Orchard Arboretum, a 2-acre town conservation area featuring 165 trees and shrubs, representing more than 65 species, for the public to enjoy and which Applewood residents can care for.

“It’s given me an opportunity to interact with other Applewood residents and to get my hands in the dirt again,” Masters said.

On Thursday, Masters and about 50 other Applewood residents, joined by officials from the town and the University of Massachusetts, celebrated the 25th anniversary of the arboretum’s creation out of an overgrown apple orchard.

The arboretum is connected to a 4-acre conservation parcel owned by the town and was secured through $175,000 in donations from Applewood residents and a bequest from Janet Dakin with assistance from the Kestrel Land Trust. It has paved paths, benches and a kiosk at its entrance, with each tree and shrub marked with a small plaque that identifies its name and the year it was planted.

Anne Cann, who has been a member of the Friends of the Orchard Arboretum since 2007 and oversees it, said residents feel fortunate to have this nature area, accessible to even those with mobility challenges, in their midst.

“It has added greatly to my life,” Cann said.

The arboretum recently was added to ArbNet, a national network or arboretums that includes 20 others in Massachusetts, including the Waugh Arboretum at the University of Massachusetts and the Botanic Garden of Smith College.

Applewood Loomis Communities Executive Director Rob Claflin said the arboretum is a special place in the heart of residents who want to connect with nature and plant trees and shurbs in memory of loved ones. A recent expansion of the arboretum, which connects to the neighboring Upper Orchard property, is a section called Joe’s Way, named in memory of Joseph Gavin by his widow, Dorothy Gavin.

Elizabeth Davis, a member of the arboretum steering committee, said residents have benefited tremendously from the site and thanked Cann for her work sustaining it. “It’s a treasure of a place,” Davis said.

As part of the anniversary program, which concluded with the serving of apple cake and mulled cider, Jack Ahern, a professor of Landscape Architecture and Regional Planning at UMass, said the arboretum is more than a collection of plants and suggested activities. Applewood residents can do a variety of activities there, such as recording how the trees are reacting to climate change or welcoming people to do art inspired by the landscape.

Assistant Town Manager David Ziomek, who handles conservation and development matters for Amherst, said collaboration has been key to sustaining the arboretum.

“It really represents to me what Amherst is all about,” Ziomek said.

Masters, who created a sign displayed in the arboretum that commemorates its quarter-century history, hopes the site will continue to benefit the health and well being of her friends.

“It’s an awesome place to be,” Masters said. “I’m a great believer in the therapeutic benefits of being out in nature.”

Scott Merzbach can be reached at smerzbach@gazettenet.com.