Campus arboretum turns over new leaf

The Joshua C. Turner Arboretum at Union College has started to turn a new leaf. Union’s park-like campus has long been known for the more than 100 species of trees and bushes, and this school year the grounds crew has been working to improve the condition of or replace some of the trees which have been around since Union College was established in 1891.

“Some of these trees are very old,” explained Randy Bollinger, grounds supervisor. “People may see us taking down a tree and think ‘Oh no,’ but it’s important to understand that it is something that needs to happen as trees end their life cycle.”

Time, disease and the rough winter storms have taken a toll on Union’s trees and some eventually die. To take necessary precautions to avoid any injuries from falling limbs, old and worn out trees on campus will be removed and replaced with new trees donated by the Nebraska Statewide Arboretum in partnership with the Nebraska Forestry Council.

During the next few weeks, ten new trees will be planted to replace those that were lost. “The general biology class will also be involved in the planting of a tree as part of their study in plant life,” Bollinger said.

Some of the trees donated by Nebraska Statewide Arboretum include species new to the campus arboretum. “Some of the new species being planted include a tulip tree, located near the entrance of the Ortner center, Katsura tree and a Miyabei Maple tree,” said Bollinger.

The arboretum is named after Joshua C. Turner who managed the Union College grounds from 1948-1969 and joined the Nebraska Statewide Arboretum in April of 1981.

Bollinger says his efforts to beautify the campus would be fruitless without students. “Our student workers are really the ones responsible for the upkeep of the grounds,” Bollinger said proudly. “They make sure the plants are watered and pruned, keeping them looking good.”

Renovations to the arboretum will continue throughout the school year with the help of student workers, employees and the partnership of Nebraska Statewide Arboretum, Nebraska Environmental Trust and Nebraska Forestry Council.