Cedar Valley Arboretum & Botanic Gardens

Please help us spread the word!

leave a comment »

Greetings from the Arboretum!

I don’t know about you, but Mother Nature likes to test me each spring with a few new problems in my garden.  Something almost always pops up, whether it  is a mower that refuses to start, rabbit damage on trees and shrubs, or frost burn on new young perennials just popping up.  Our gardens at the Arboretum are doing pretty well this spring, but we have had a few bumps along the road with distributing marketing material for our summer education programs.

Our mailing will go out in the next week or so, but in the mean time, can you help me spread the word about our great summer classes?

Here’s how you can help:

1.  Review the two education brochures (one for youth and one for adults) attached below.  Then pick out your favorite classes and register you and the little ones in your life.  We have something for ages 18 months to adults!  Registration is simple – print out and mail in the registration form included in this email or register online at http://www.cedarvalleyarboretum.org/registration.asp.

2012 Youth Education Brochure

2012 Adult Education Brochure

NOTE: There is still time to register for the May 8th adult class!  This will be a wonderful class about rock gardening that you will not want to miss.  Since this class is just around the corner, please register online or by sending me an email at director@cedarvalleyarboretum.org to let me know if you would like to attend.  Participants who choose to email me rather than registering online can plan on bringing their registration money to the class.

2012 Arboretum Education Registration Form

2. Forward this blog post to family, co-workers, and neighbors.  We want EVERYONE in the Cedar Valley to get to know the Arboretum this summer!

3.Print these forms and post in your office or pin to your favorite public bulletin board.  Both the adult and education brochures are black and white and letter size – perfect for easy printing.

Thank you in advance for helping me spread the word about our youth and adult education classes.

See you in the gardens soon,



Written by cedarvalleyarboretum

May 4, 2012 at 10:07 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

Electronics Recycling & Household Toxins Drop-off

leave a comment »

Hey All – just wanted to share this event with you.  A great opportunity for those living in the area.

See you in the gardens,



The Black Hawk County Solid Waste Management Commission will be partnering with the City of Waterloo to sponsor an electronics recycling, household hazardous materials drop-off event and truckload sale of compost bins and rain barrels.  ALL Black Hawk County residents are welcome to bring approved household toxic materials and electronics (fees may apply).  The drop-off will be held on Saturday, April 14th from 9:00 AM until 2:00 PM at the Waterloo Waste Water Treatment Plant (3505 Easton Ave., Waterloo).   All materials brought to the event shall be covered 100%, be tied down and be fully secured in all areas (City of Waterloo Ordinance).

The Black Hawk County Solid Waste Management Commission will be accepting toxic materials from county resident homes for free at the drop-off event. Items such as lawn chemicals, rechargeable batteries, fluorescent light bulbs (compact and tube), propane tanks, old gasoline, mercury thermometers, and much more will be accepted for safe disposal. A list of accepted items can be found at WasteTrac.org or call 266-8722.

New to the spring event this year, the Black Hawk County Solid Waste Management Commission will be sponsoring an Electronics Recycling Drop-off.  Electronics fall into two categories, electronics with CRTs (Cathode Ray Tubes) and electronics without.  CRTs are within older TV sets and older styles of computer monitors. Although not banned from Iowa landfills, electronics with CRTs contain trace amounts of phosphorus, cadmium and 6-8 pounds of lead.  The CRT appears in the unit as a funnel-shaped leaded glass tube with a metal frame inside.  This shape gives older TV’s and computer monitors that bump in the back!  Each vehicle arriving at the event can recycle two CRT (non flat-screen) monitors/televisions for free.  Additional CRTs, are $5 each (with no limit). 

Electronics and electrical items from the kitchen, bathroom, and home office will also be accepted.  Items such as vacuums, keyboards, VCR/DVD players, radios, stereos and much more will be recycled.  Please refer to the complete recycling list online.  Residents are asked to bring exact cash only.  Bills larger than $20 will not be accepted. Electronics waste from businesses will not be accepted.

Unfortunately, no paint, appliances, tires, motor oil, antifreeze, ammunition, fire extinguishers, smoke detectors, asbestos, radioactive materials, non-hazardous waste, or business waste of any kind will be accepted during the event. Please call the Waste Trac Education Team (266-8722) for tips on managing these items.

During the drop-off event, the Black Hawk County Solid Waste Management Commission is also subsidizing a truckload sale of backyard compost bins and rain barrels at the same location.  The one-day sale will run from 9:00AM – 3:00PM on a first come, first served basis.  Earth Machine backyard compost bins will be available for $42 and Systern rain barrels (55 gallon) will be sold for $52.  The sale of compost bins and rain barrels is open to all Iowa residents.

For more information about the April 14th event, please visit WasteTrac.org or call the Waste Trac Education Team for the Black Hawk Co. Solid Waste Management Commission at 266-8722.

Written by cedarvalleyarboretum

April 3, 2012 at 10:39 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

Mark Your Calendar: Arboretum Spring Retreat!

leave a comment »

Arboretum Spring Retreat

Saturday, March 31st

10:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. at the Family Practice Center Board Room

Kimball Ridge Center

All Arboretum volunteers, donors, friends, and interested folks are welcome.   Plan on attending to learn more about the Arboretum and steps we are taking to become a better garden.  (Attendance counts for Master Gardener volunteer hours.)

For more information, please contact me at director@cedarvalleyarboretum.org or call the office at (319)226-4966.


See you in the gardens,


Written by cedarvalleyarboretum

March 16, 2012 at 6:04 am

Posted in Uncategorized

Head House Remodel

leave a comment »


Over the past fifteen years, the Head House (green garage north of the parking lot) has been the center of activity at the Arboretum.  This building has served many roles – everything from maintenance equipment storage, greenhouse for tender annuals during late May frosts, staff offices, to party venue for volunteer appreciation events!

Did you know?  The name “Head House” is often used in public gardens to refer to maintenance headquarters.

The Head House is now ready to take on a new role (now that we have our new storage barn!):  Arboretum Welcome Center.  Volunteers and staff feel strongly feel that retrofitting an existing space allows us to remain focused on enhancing the beauty and functionality of our current landscape, rather than building additional infrastructure.

An on-site, year-round Welcome Center would provide:

::     An inviting meeting space to allow Arboretum staff and volunteer greeters to welcome, inform and direct visitors and group tours.

::     An open meeting space for Arboretum volunteers/donors to congregate and provide staff the opportunity to better invest in these main stakeholders.

::     A functional workspace for staff and interns, education programs, Arboretum meetings and committee projects.

::     An enhanced rental space for family celebrations, company retreats and private events.

The completed Welcome Center will have an open floor plan attractive for meetings and events and will include information kiosks, a public restroom and a small kitchenette.   The east wall of the building (where a garage door currently exists) will showcase large windows overlooking a furnished patio and four-season garden to complement the existing landscape.

The renovated building will also include two small offices for the Arboretum’s full-time Director of Horticulture and part-time Program Coordinator.  Before this time, the Arboretum has rented office space in Waterloo and staff has traveled between the two locations for meetings and events.

Arboretum Volunteers and staff are currently seeking community grants to cover the costs of this remodel.  If you would like more information on how you can support this important project, please contact Mollie at director@cedarvalleyarboretum.org or call (319)226-4966.  Watch for updates as we continue to develop this project!

See you in the gardens,


Written by cedarvalleyarboretum

March 14, 2012 at 6:52 am

Posted in Uncategorized

New Additions to the Rose Garden

leave a comment »

My favorite winter project is choosing new plant material for our gardens – it’s always fun to have new additions for each season!  I recently finished our plant order for the Rose Garden and am excited for a variety of new perennials and shrub roses to arrive this May.


If you have visited our Rose Garden in the past few years, you already know this space has gotten a major facelift.  Some of the highlights over the 2010 and 2011 season include new companion plantings; a two-tiered, cedar pergola; and a stone patio with beautiful oak leaf design.  When the gardens are in full bloom, this new space is a showstopper (And a wonderful space to rent for weddings.  For more information, please visit our rental page at http://www.cedarvalleyarboretum.org/rentals.asp!).


The final improvement for this garden is to substitute our tea roses for new varieties of shrub roses.  Like other gardeners in Northeast Iowa, Japanese Beetles have caused me great pain and frustration (That is only a slight exaggeration – I hate those dumb beetles!!) by decimating our roses in the Rose Garden.  All of our roses have suffered from these hungry pests, but the tea roses are far more susceptible.  With the shrub roses, I’m able to better control the damage and still have summer-long bloom.


Some gardeners don’t like hardy shrub roses and refer to them as “landscaper roses” – a dirty word to those who appreciate the finer qualities of the Rosa genus.  And I completely understand!  Many of the hardy shrub roses have less showy blooms, fragrant smell or delicate form.  But what they lack in subtle beauty, they make up for with bright, season-long color with no deadheading; disease/pest resistance; and winter hardiness (All of my favorite plant qualities!).  Hardy shrub roses are also very easy to find and reasonably priced in our local garden centers.  This is very important to us as we design our gardens at the Arboretum – we want visitors to be inspired by our gardens and be able replicate aspects of our designs in their home landscape.


Our Rose Garden already includes a handful of hardy shrub roses, such as the Knock Out® roses shown above.  “Knock Out” is the commercial name given to a collection of shrub roses cultivated for low maintenance and disease resistance – to learn more, please visit http://www.conard-pyle.com/index.cfm/fuseaction/koplants.splash.  This collection includes several different colors and blooms, including:


The Knock Out® Rose (red bloom)

The Double Knock Out® Rose (red with fuller, double bloom)

The Pink Knock Out® Rose (pink bloom)

The Pink Double Knock Out® Rose (pink with fuller, double bloom)

The Rainbow Knock Out® Rose (pink bloom with yellow center)

The Blushing Knock Out® Rose (pink bloom that fades to a more subtle pink with age)

The Sunny Knock Out® Rose (yellow bloom)


We currently grow several of the red Knock Out® roses and I have ordered the other six varieties to try this season.  We are also going to try several varieties of Northern Accents™ shrub roses – a collection cultivated in Minnesota to be grown in our harsh, northern climates.  Northern Accents™ roses are not as widely found in the garden centers yet, but should be easier to find in the coming years.


Now if only it were May so we could start planting!  I hope you will stop by (many times!) this summer to check out these new varieties of roses.


See you in the gardens,


Written by cedarvalleyarboretum

March 12, 2012 at 6:41 am

Posted in Uncategorized

REMINDER: 2012 Internship Applications due March 15th!

leave a comment »

The Arboretum is now accepting applications for 2012 student interns.  This is a tremendous opportunity for someone interested horticulture, natural sciences, education, outdoor leisure services and/or non-profit management.

Interns will gain valuable leadership and management experience … while spending the summer outdoors!

Two internships will be available for the 2012 season.  To learn more about each, see the original post at https://cedarvalleyarboretum.wordpress.com/2012/02/06/announcing-2012-summer-internships/

The application deadline is March 15, 2012.  Please send a cover letter, resume and three references to Mollie Aronowitz at director@cedarvalleyarboretum.org.

Please contact Mollie Aronowitz at director@cedarvalleyarboretum.org or (319)226-4966 with questions.

See you in the gardens,


Written by cedarvalleyarboretum

March 9, 2012 at 6:14 am

Posted in Uncategorized


leave a comment »

Hey All – Just wanted to share this great article from our View editor, Rita Lynn.  Enjoy!

See you in the gardens,




I have had a soft spot for Sanseviera for many years.  It started when, as one of a group of therapists, I moved into an office space that had been unoccupied for several months.  On a counter in one corner was a small, puny Sansevieria in an old, broken coffee cup.  I assumed the plant belonged to someone else, so I essentially ignored it.  Several months later I discovered that everyone else had ignored the plant as well and that no one had even watered it.  I “adopted” the poor thing, and now, many years later, it continues to flourish.  Having been divided and repotted numerous times over the years, I currently have three pots-full, one of which is pictured with this article (left photo).  With a little indirect light and occasional watering, it proudly gives life to a space that needs just the accent that such a plant is able to provide.

My interest in Sansevieria was renewed about a year ago when I saw it growing wild – like grass along the side of paths and roads – in the Virgin Islands (right photo).  On a hike, a park ranger explained that former sugar plantation slaves used the fibers from the plants to make string.  Indeed, the plant was originally cultivated for its fiber, hence one of its common names, bowstring hemp.

Sansevieria, a genus with many species, is native to tropical and sub-tropical regions of Europe, Asia, and Africa.  The species we most often see – Sansevieria trifasciata, the one we affectionately call Mother-in-Law’s Tongue or Snake Plant – is native to dry regions of Africa.  A very similar plant, Sansevieria hyacinthoides, has naturalized in places such as the Virgin Islands and is actually identified as an invasive plant in some areas of Florida.  These plants spread by their vigorous rhizomes which are so fast-growing and strong that, in the case of a plant in a container, it can crack the pot.  As a houseplant it is rarely bothered by disease or insects pests, it tolerates low light conditions and almost any kind of soil, and just about the only way it can be killed is by overwatering.  Besides being almost indestructible, it is effective in removing various toxins from the air in our enclosed home and work environments.

You can propagate Sansevieria simply by dividing the rhizomes, taking a section of the leaves and roots and replanting them.  A new plant will also grow from a leaf cutting if you are careful to orient the leaf in its original growing direction.  This method will take several weeks, however, and if you are rooting a variegated cultivar, you might lose the variegation.

Grandma probably had a Sansevieria in her parlor.  You might even have that plant, or one grown from its roots, in your collection.  Even if you kill just about every other houseplant, you should be able, provided you don’t give it too much water, to enjoy this one.  Put it somewhere in the house where no other plant would survive, and thank it for its steadfastness.


“Sansevieria (Snake Plant),” http://web.extension.illinois.edu/dmp/palette/100110.html

“Mother-In-Law Tongues and Others – Sansevieria,” http://botanicalgarden.berkeley.edu/SOM/SOM-sansevieria.shtml

“Bowstring Hemp,” http://plants.ifas.ufl.edu/node/398

“Fiber and Fiber Plants,” http://www.faculty.ucr.edu/~legneref/botany/fibers.htm , (scroll down to paragraph on bowstring hemp).

Written by cedarvalleyarboretum

March 8, 2012 at 6:18 am

Posted in Uncategorized