The John Bartram Arboretum at Kendal at Oberlin

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The John Bartram Arboretum is an integral component of Kendal at Oberlin’s green infrastructure. The arboretum is managed by a resident Arboretum Committee in close collaboration with Kendal Facility Services. The residents who first envisioned the arboretum saw our more than 1,000 trees and 100 acres as an opportunity to enhance the lives of Kendal residents by creating a sustainable ecosystem for enjoying nature’s beauty, exercising, watching birds, and, of course, planting and fostering the growth and appreciation of trees.

As a community based on Quaker values, we decided to name our arboretum in honor of John Bartram, a Pennsylvania Quaker and friend of Benjamin Franklin who is known as America’s first botanist. Bartram traveled widely in the colonies, including trips to Ohio, collecting and cataloging plant specimens and seeds, many of which were shipped in “Bartram’s Boxes” for sale in Europe. His introduction of the American Tulip Tree (Liriodendron tulipifera) in Europe created a sensation when it was first seen. This inspired us to designate the Tulip Tree as the signature tree of the arboretum.

An Accredited Arboretum

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In December 2015, The John Bartram Arboretum at Kendal at Oberlin was accredited as a Level I Arboretum by Arbnet, the international community of arboreta and other tree-focused institutions founded and run by the Morton Arboretum. Thus, we joined Kendal at Longwood and Crosslands among the continuing care retirement communities that support accredited arboreta on their grounds.

Mission Statement

The mission of The John Bartram Arboretum at Kendal at Oberlin is to be a model of responsible urban arboriculture to engage, sustain, and educate our residents and the broader community.

Arboretum Activities

The arboretum has created a Sustainable Urban Forest Management Plan, approved by the Kendal board of directors in 2018, to guide our activities in furtherance of our mission. These include:

  • Planning the placement of trees on campus for shade canopy and ornamental purposes
  • Assessing our trees on a 5-year cycle, capturing data including overall health, size, pruning needs, and latitude/longitude coordinates.
  • Maintaining a computerized Catalog of Trees to manage the information collected in our assessments and support arboretum work
  • Attaching interpretive tags on our trees to enable residents, staff, and visitors to find and identify them
  • Raising funds to support arboretum activities
  • Managing a Commemorative Tree program for people wishing to remember loved ones or celebrate important people or events in their lives.
  • Developing a series of web-based interpretive tree walks
  • Hosting an annual tree-focused educational event, open to the public, to celebrate Arbor Day
  • Developing outreach programs with the Kendal Early Learning Center, the City of Oberlin, the Department of Environmental Studies at Oberlin College, The Ohio Independent Arborist Association, and the Ohio Division of Forestry
  • Developing a web-based map of the arboretum using geographical information systems (GIS) technology
  • Managing an onsite tree nursery to help enlarge and diversify our collection

Begin your exploration of the John Bartram Arboretum with our Heiser Circle Tree Walk.