Episode 02: A History of the Heartland Conifer Collection

In this podcast we talk about what a conifer is and how they are distinct from other types of trees, as well as how the conifer collection at the arboretum is unique in terms of the types of conifers it has. David Horst gives us a unique perspective on the history of this collection and how it was first proposed to the Bickelhaupts by Justin Chub Harper. We also talk about the unique challenges that came from designing the initial beds and spaces for this collection. David tells us how the plants were obtained and how labeling the specimens that are there is an important part of the education that is provided by the arboretum.


Ryan Welch
: Welcome to another in our series of podcasts about the Bickelhaupt Arboretum. In this podcast, we're going to discuss one of the collections that the Arboretum is most known for its conifer collection. But first, we should make a distinction between the term evergreen and conifer, since these are terms that people tend to use synonymously, but they are actually defined different aspects of the plants themselves.  

The term Evergreen is used to describe a plant which is able to keep their green leaves all year round. While these plants still lose their leaves throughout the year. It's a gradual loss and it occurs throughout the year as opposed to deciduous trees that will lose their leaves all at once and go dormant for part of the year. In fact, many evergreen plants are actually found in tropical regions where the growing conditions are such that these plants don't have to deal with the harsh conditions of a colder climate for long periods of time. 

The term conifer, though, refers to the cone like reproductive structure that those types of plants use to develop their seeds instead of using flowers. While many plants that produce cones are thus considered conifers are also evergreen. Not all of them are. As an example, the Plant Tamarack (Larix laricina) is a conifer that will lose its long needle like leaves in the fall and grow them back in the spring. While most conifers are also evergreens, not all evergreens are conifers. Since many evergreen plants, as I said, especially those in the tropics, don't actually produce cones, but rather they use flowers as their primary reproductive structures.  

This distinction is important as we discuss the conifer collection at the arboretum. One of the first collections that was planted at the arboretum was a pinetum Collection, which is classified as a collection of evergreens. This planting was done on the advice of Roy Nordin from the Morton Arboretum, who was their long time mentor, instructor and initial advisor for the Arboretum. Roy advised that this collection be started early, since they are typically fairly slow growing plants as compared to other types of trees that are commonly grown in the Midwest. 

This collection was located in the southwest corner of the acreage and was made up of 18 original plants that came from several different sources. Over the years, though, this collection has changed quite a bit for a number of reasons. 

This area of the arboretum now contains what we call the heartland collection of dwarf and rare conifers. The conifer collection at the arboretum is also unique in another way. As the name implies, it is made up completely of plants that are considered to be dwarf versions of their respective species. 

The American Conifer Society categorizes any conifer that grows about 1 to 6 inches a year and has a ten year height of about 1 to 5 feet as a dwarf conifer. These types of conifers, which actually grow slower than normal conifers, can be beneficial in landscaping, especially in urban areas. 

In this podcast, David Horst, Director of Horticulture for the Arboretum, will discuss how the collection was started, how it got its name, and why it was laid out the way that it was. Now in terms of that conifer collection. Why was the conifer collection started?   

David Horst: It was started to promote conifers. And I can still remember to this day I was out pruning in what we call the dwarf shrub collection at that time. There were signs here at the parking lot pointing out to the north field north of the house.  

Ryan Welch: Yeah. 

David Horst: And at that time it was a lilac collection and an open hillside. And there was some small dwarfs, probably 100 different dwarf plants, but they were mostly deciduous with three or four, maybe five dwarf conifers.  

Ryan Welch: Okay.  

David Horst: And I was out there working, pruning, and a gentleman walked up behind me and wanted to know where the Dwarf Conifer Collection was. He had seen the sign and followed it, but didn't see the dwarf conifers. It was only a few there.  

Ryan Welch: Oh, okay.  

David Horst: And I said, Well, you're looking at them. And he's like, This is it. And I said, This is it. 

That's all we have. He talked him in and introduced himself, and his name was Justin Chub Harper from Moline, Illinois. I had never heard of him before that time, although he was quite well known throughout the country for conifers and dwarf conifers. 

So we talked a few minutes and he said he would be back. That was December of 1989 and it was in the winter of 1990. A couple of months later he arrived back and had a deal for the Bickelhaupts, wanted to know if he would donate the plant materials, a little bit of money and some tools and help if they would be interested in starting a Dwarf Conifer Collection here at the arboretum. He said he had been here in December and talked to me and only had a handful of dwarf conifers for people to look at. 

And at this time, dwarf conifers were still they'd been around a long time, but they were actually relatively  to the local area here in Clinton. You could go to the store and or to a nursery and you can buy a couple of different common ones like Burton Spruce and Elberta Spruce. But other than that, you're very limited. So Chubb’s idea in presenting this plan or proposal to the Bickelhaupts was to promote conifers.  

Ryan Welch: But mostly that's just to promote dwarf conifers.  

David Horst: Mostly dwarf conifer.  

Ryan Welch: Okay, but so what's the difference between the dwarf conifer and just a regular conifer?  

David Horst: Ok, for example, a regular eastern white pine. In this area, it can reach 70, 90, even 100 feet tall.  

Ryan Welch: Okay.   

David Horst: A dwarf white pine, may be anywhere from one foot to, four or five feet, maybe ten feet tall at maturity. Anything smaller than that native white pine that I mentioned.  

Ryan Welch: Ok, is there a height limit, at a certain height you're not a dwarf anymore?   

David Horst: No. The American Conifer Society actually categorizes dwarf conifers by different sized groups. Oh, okay. Like, for example, large, medium and dwarf miniature. Minature, of course, being the smallest. And then the large ones can grow anywhere from, you know, anywhere from ten, maybe even 30 feet. If it's 30 feet tall. 

That sounds big to you and I. But compared to 100 foot white pine, that's a dwarf  

Ryan Welch: That is a dwarf.  

David Horst: So, yeah, our conifer collection, that is it's not just it's mostly just dwarf conifers.  Our conifer collections mostly dwarf conifers. 

Ryan Welch: Okay.  

David Horst: There are a few flanking around the outside of it that are large growing, like the white pines just north of the house that are on the south side of the collection. They were planted first.  

Ryan Welch:  Yeah, those were founder are trees, if I remember right.  

David Horst: That's correct. 

Ryan Welch:  Okay. So yeah. 

David Horst: So those are founder trees that were here first. They were here for a while, but the actual Conifer Collection that came later is the Dwarf Conifer Collection. The only reason I say is there seems to be like a big distinction that a lot of people may not understand as they as they come in and think about things that, you know, everything you're looking at is a certain type of conifer is not something you would find, say, in a boreal forest, for instance, where, yes, you may see a dwarf, but it may not be there on purpose sort of thing, or it might just be some weird natural oddity. Whereas here we this is all purposefully done. That's right.  

Ryan Welch:  Okay. Yeah. So what gives them this shorter size? Do we know? Their genetics  

Ryan Welch:  Is genetics?  

David Horst: Yeah.  

Ryan Welch: Okay.  

David Horst: Yep. The genetics of the plant and a lot of collectors over the years have collected them. 

And it seems like the goal of most collectors when they're looking for these genetics that favor the traits of small size. It seems like a lot of the collectors are looking for that. When I find a plant. First off, I'm excited to have found it, put a name on it, and I really don't care if it stays real small or if it grows real large. I like to get something with a pretty shape to it, pretty good color or green or yellow or irrigation, whatever. But everybody's got their own trait that they're looking for, and a lot of them are for the smaller sizes because that's what homeowners living in towns prefer.

Ryan Welch: They do have a smaller yard, but you would like some little green space and dwarf is the size you want. That was my I'm,  I'm guessing and I could be wrong on this if they're smaller in size, does that mean they don't take as much upkeep? 

David Horst: That's right. That's one of the main reasons Chubb promoted the collection. Here was just what we talked about, people in towns at that time, back, and this is back in the late eighties, early nineties. Keep in mind, people were having trouble getting rid of the yard waste. 

A lot of people grew what we call Yew bushes and they required a lot of maintenance. You go out there two or three times a year and you get the hedge trimmer out and you trim them and then you got to rake it up. 

And if you don't get it all off the plant, it turns brown and looks ugly. And, and eventually they get even with the pruning, they still get up above your windows.  

Ryan Welch: Yep.  

David Horst: A lot of people use them for foundation plantings and Chubb and his proposal to the Bickelhaupts suggested that these would be low maintenance. 

If people selected the proper plant to plant around their house. It would be good in the landscape for 20 - 25 years where the Yews required a lot of maintenance. You could plant a dwarf conifer and just let it grow and maybe you had to do a little fine tuning to it here and there. But overall, it was very, very low maintenance.  

Ryan Welch: So just a little bit of shaping maybe here they're taking on some of the dead stuff and promoting this grow. And with the dwarf conifers, there is a lot more variety of colors and shapes. 

David Horst: Over the years, particularly this has become tree have weeping forms that you can plant on the corner of your house. You can stake them up to whatever desired height you like and let them grow. And then they grow and cascade to the ground. 

Ryan Welch: And by weeping the stems and the leaves and the things start to just kind of look like they're falling, not upright as, as a lot of the pines and other types of conifers are. But the, the leaves hang, they hang to a certain extent. 

David Horst: Yeah.  

Ryan Welch: And a lot of people when they think Weeping, they think Willows, a Weeping Willow is the famous one that everybody thinks about. But these are these are actual conifers that, where everything hangs almost and that's where they get that weeping feature. Yeah and that's, a lot of people gives a desirable look in their landscape are different texture and form.  

Ryan Welch: Yeah, it's unique and a lot of folks like that.  

David Horst: Yeah. And then you have a lot of different colors with dwarf conifers where if the Yews were your primary a shade of green, but with dward conifers, you can go from all the shades of green, blues, yellows, variegated forms. So you have a lot more selection available. But like I said earlier, at the beginning, there wasn't near as many different selections. Over the years there have become a lot. 

They've become very popular not only with collectors, but with landscapers that install them and landscapes. The maintenance has been a big plus for them and that was a big selling point for Chubb when he presented it to the Bickelhaupts and they agreed 100% and felt that it would be a worthy collection to add here at the Bickelhaupt Arboretum.  

Ryan Welch: So when Chubb came he saw a small amount in the collection. Do you remember how many were in the collection? Initially when Chubb first came and looked and said, This is it. I believe there were four or five. 

Ryan Welch: So you start with four or five. Chubb gets involved. What does he bring it up to?  

David Horst: Well, first, out of the four or five,there are still three in the collection today.  

Ryan Welch:  Oh, wow. Which is pretty neat. 

Ryan Welch: That is pretty neat. That puts them at 30 years old. Yeah, give or take or. Yeah, one of them I think is 37, 37. So that's amazing. They're still there and they still look good. Of course, they've gotten a lot larger than what we thought they were going to. 

Ryan Welch: Yeah,  

David Horst: But since then, over the years when we first started planning, which would have been in 1991, the startup years, we started out with 130, I believe. We eventually got up to 750 in the collection and then over the years thinning to close together. At the beginning, we didn't know how large some of these were going to get and some of them are experimental. So we had no clue, really. We just kind of had to guess.  

Ryan Welch: Yeah.  

David Horst: And then also Chubb always says we have to plan them closer at the beginning in the beds, because if you plant them and give them proper space, it's going to look like an empty bed for a long time. These are dwarves, so they don't grow fast.  

Ryan Welch: Yeah. So we planted them close and we knew we had to transplant a bunch in the future. And we also evaluated them and over time decided that some of them weren't worthy of being in the collection. So we removed them. And then over the years we've decided to remove others that became crowded. They're too big to move, obviously. 

Ryan Welch: Yeah.  

David Horst: And now we're down to about 450 today  

Ryan Welch: 450 and that's foreign 50 unique.  

David Horst: That's right. Yeah.  

Ryan Welch: Yeah, that's interesting.  

David Horst: And when we started out, one of the propositions to the Bickelhaupts that Chubb made was that he wanted to have the old time tested selections, which remember they had four or five at the beginning. He wanted to have those that were already named and proven throughout the United States. But he also wanted to raise something that they call Witchesbrooms.  

Ryan Welch: Okay.  

David Horst: These are kind of experimental plants or mutations that form on a tree and you collect it, propagate it. He wanted to have these and he wanted to have them labeled properly too. So people knew they weren't able to be purchased at a nursery. They were just kind of in the study stages at this point.  

Ryan Welch: Once the proposal for this new Conifer Collection had been approved by the Bickelhaupts, the work of selecting a location and getting it ready began. David discusses the challenges that came with this initial task so far 2 acres of the entire arboretum.  

David Horst: That's right. The two acres to the north of the building. When Chuck proposed the idea to the Bickelhaupts, he wanted a location that was sun and had good drainage  

Ryan Welch: Okay. 

David Horst: And to the north.  

Ryan Welch: To the north makes sense because of the way the hills and the topography of the land sit.  

David Horst: That's right. And the Bicklehaupts had just installed a waterfall on the hillside, and Chubb thought this would make a wonderful addition for that. 

Ryan Welch: Okay  

David Horst: So we put a little wooden bridge over it and we graveled a path from the north parking lot to the bridge or the waterfall. I guess the bridge at the waterfall to lead people up, which made a big difference. 

Ryan Welch: It did? Yeah. Okay.  

David Horst: At one time, there used to be a brick factory just where you enter into the collection from the parking lot. And there was a big hole there, kind of ran into this unexpectedly. 

I talked with Russ Pollard, a neighbor, for many years afterwards, and he was the one who had filled the hole in where they used to quarry the clay.  

Ryan Welch: Oh, okay. When you said brick factory I don't remember any big building. Yeah, but it's an open pit quarry kind of an open pit.  

David Horst: And this was many, many years.  

Ryan Welch:  Many, many years ago. And even before the well, maybe not before the Bickelhaupts owned the land, but maybe yeah.  

David Horst: It was before that. 

Ryan Welch: Yeah.  

David Horst: And there was a large hole there at one time we did not know this and Russ told us afterwards he had a dozer come in and spent several days pushing off the hill and filling in the hole. Well, when we went to plant conifers in them areas, it had a thin topsoil.  

Ryan Welch: Oh, okay.  

David Horst: So that did create a little bit of a problem. But we've worked with it and everything's worked out well.  

Ryan Welch: Okay  

David Horst: So when you enter the Heartland collection, the Dwarfest Miniature plants are along the path and you encounter them first.  

Ryan Welch: Okay, the smallest ones first.  

David Horst: The smallest ones first. And as you proceed through the collection, you get past the waterfall. Then you're coming into the intermediates and the large dwarfs. 

And we did that on purpose. Keep the smaller ones up front and  

Ryan Welch: Sort of a gradient then as you walk through.  

David Horst: Yes.  

Ryan Welch: Okay.  

David Horst: Yeah.  

Ryan Welch: Once the site had been selected, the real work of designing the layout had begun. 

This, along with the purchasing and procuring of the actual plants, took this concept idea of a dwarf collection of conifers and began to make it a reality at the arboretum. So when you guys started out and Chubb proposed this idea, I'm guessing he had a layout in line for how we wanted to put things correct. 

David Horst: That's correct.  

Ryan Welch: So how did that come about?  

David Horst: Well, after the Bickelhaupts accepted their offer Chubb and Anna, Anna's Chubb's wife. And like I said, they're from Moline, Illinois. After they accepted the offer. Chuck got busy right away. 

Of course I helped him. We started drawing up plans, how we were going to lay out the collection. We had to move lilacs, and we had to prepare the site. So we put in a gravel path. This is all back in 1990. 

So a lot of planning went on in the spring and summer of 1990. As we got to fall, we started cutting out the beds and we marked them out with marker guns, paint guns.  

Ryan Welch: Okay.  

David Horst: So we could see the shapes of every thing and then we'd look at it, then we'd change it. 

Ryan Welch:  So all that was done before we broke ground. Because otherwise, when you start breaking ground, when you start taking shovel fulls ity’s a little late by then. So it's good to go outline all that out. And this is gives you a better visual of what it's going to look like. 

David Horst: That's right. So we did that. And of course, we kept most of the sod because we had areas we wanted to sod in where we were removing lilacs and other plants. So we took the sod. So it took some time, all fall pretty much, and we prepared the location. 

Also that year in October, Chubb and I flew out to Portland.  

Ryan Welch: Okay. What did you fly to Portland?  

David Horst: We rented a car in Portland, went to Iseli Nursery, which is a small town named Boring, Oregon. It's in view of Mt. Hood if that helps.  

Ryan Welch: Oh, okay.sounds wonderful.  

Ryan Welch: Gets a little boring, I guess.  

David Horst: That's right. And Iseli Nursery was kind enough to invite us out. Upon hearing that we were starting the Heartland Collection, they were kind enough to invite us out. It's a wholesale nursery. 

Ryan Welch: Oh, okay.  

David Horst: Where they would allow us to pick out the plants so we could go through and pick any of the plants out that we wanted. We had to pay wholesale costs, which Chubb paid. Chubb’s. part of his bargain was to furnish all the plant material. 

So he paid for them. But we were able to pick out the very best out of every lot of plants, which I believe was around 130 plants. I think they also threw in some other plants too, but they had a sales representative take us all through the nursery tours, the nursery, and we selected the prime plants. And we had a wonderful start up in the spring of 1991 using those plants.  

Ryan Welch: Nice.  

David Horst: So that made a big difference and got us off to the right start at the beginning.  

Ryan Welch:  A good start for everything you needed for as you were going. 

David Horst: Yeah.  

Ryan Welch: And so you get, you've laid things out. You've gone to Oregon, you got your plants, you started planting them. How has it progressed since?  

David Horst: Well, when it first started, I thought, these plants are so small, they'll take forever to grow, you know? But immediately they took off. We kept them watered, we kept them mulched. They did very well. Chubb and I kind of looked at the collection and we thought, we need to add a couple highlights to the collection. Main attractions. 

 Ryan Welch: Gotcha,yeah.  

David Horst: So we thought about it. And just about this time, a teacher, an instructor over at Clinton High School approaches Charlie Hunter. And he was also a local landscaper here in town. And he also like conifers and dwarf plants. 

And he was doing a job at Connie and Terry Metzger's home. And there is a 20 foot white spruce in their yard with a witches broom growing on it. And Charlie recognized this. The tree had to be removed. 

Ryan Welch: Oh 

David Horst: So Charlie recognized this, got ahold of us. We got a hold of Chubb. Make a long story short, Chubb hired Davey Tree Company to come up and dig that tree had to be dug by hand because of its size. And it was close to a sidewalk and some utilities.  

Ryan Welch: All right.  

David Horst: So he couldn't get in a big machine, so they dug it by hand. Davey tree did. They had experience with this previously, digging plants and Chubb’s yard for his first collection. The Harper Collection.  

Ryan Welch: Yeah.  

David Horst: So they dug over at the site and dug this 20 foot tree. The staff of the arboretum dug the big hole here where it was going. We thought this would be a perfect educational learning tool for visitors to come and see. We're already promoting the dwarf conifers. We're also promoting witch's brooms growing in the collection. To have an actual broom growing on a tree would be perfect.  

Ryan Welch: Oh yeah  

David Horst: So they dug the tree. It had about a seven foot across root ball, three feet deep. They use chains to keep the burlap on it and put heavy plywood under it to keep it from falling off. They lifted it onto a large flatbed truck with a truck boom.  

Ryan Welch: Yep. Yep.  

David Horst: Because it weighed thousands of pounds.  

Ryan Welch: That is not a small endeavor. 

 David Horst: No, it was a large endeavor. Just for us to dig the hole was bad enough by hand when they brought the tree over on the flatbed truck and they were lifting it off, part of the rootball collapsed. But we were able to get it into the hole and get it planted and we had to stake the tree 

Cause it was 20 feet tall. The tree lived and thrived. We took good care of it. We did lose the broom. We called the broom Metzger and got after the people that had the tree in their yard and we propagated it and had a baby Metzger growing next to it. 

Ryan Welch: Oh, nice.  

David Horst: But over time, the broom was on the inner part of the tree. And as we talked about earlier, the tree was growing faster than the broom, and we tried to keep it trimmed back, but we eventually lost the broom, unfortunately, in 2002. And we removed the tree at that point.  Oh, the whole tree. Yeah. Because it was disfigured from us, pruning on it, trying to save the broom  

Ryan Welch: Trying to save the broom, all right, it makes sense.  

David Horst: So that was a main focal point and attraction for a while. Another attraction that we came up with in 1991 was the planting of Alberta spruce, which are common to buy and they're cheap. So Chubb bought 52 of them at different sizes, anywhere from like a foot up to like four foot. 

All different sizes and we planted them right at the entrance. So when people would walk in, they'd look directly at this as they walked up the path. And it gave the impression of a miniature forest. As you walked up. 

Ryan Welch: As you walked up. Yeah.  

David Horst: Yeah. We planted them with the tallest ones in the center and kind of tapered them down, mixed them up. And, of course, this covered an area about 20 feet by ten feet in size and was quite a focal point for many, many years. Eventually, we ended up with some insect problems with it and we decided to remove it.  

Ryan Welch: But again, again, that's part of the story as well. You know, these are living things. They're not a static collection as, as they grow, as they mature, as, as they are, as the elements hit them, they change. 

David Horst: One thing with Chubb, too. When we started, he didn't want the collection to be a burden to the Bickelhaupts or the staff financially or for maintenance wise. The maintenance was always a concern of Chubbs. He was head supervisor for Deere and Company for many years down in the Quad Cities, and he knew we were a small arboretum with a small staff, so we went with a free form bed layout.  

Ryan Welch: Okay.  

David Horst: And eventually we ended up with 32 beds. But if you can envision this, some gardens plant individual trees out in the lawn.  

Ryan Welch: Yeah.  

David Horst: Well, we laid out large beds. Some of these beds had 12 to 15, 16 plants in them.  

Ryan Welch: Okay.  

David Horst: And then we chipped all around them. So it was easy to maintain the bed with chips. It was easy to keep it weeded. It was easy to mow around it because you can just circle right around the bed.  

Ryan Welch:  Instead of circling around each individual tree. You're going around the whole unit.  

David Horst: That's right.  

Ryan Welch: Okay.  

David Horst: And this really simplified the maintenance.  

Ryan Welch: Yeah.  

David Horst: Chubb was always well known for maintenance and improving equipment, and I did learn a lot from him, too, over the years. Working with him.  

Ryan Welch:  Now that the collection had been planned, laid out and planted, it was time to give it a name. David tells us how the name came about and why labeling the individual plants the way they have done was such an important tool for the educational purposes of the arboretum. So why was it called the Heartland Collection?  

David Horst: The Heartland Collection came about Chubb Harper's started the collection, and he had another collection up at Tipton, Michigan, called The Harper Collection. And we threw around calling this the Harper Two, but we figured it would cause a lot of confusion. Yeah, so Chubb didn't want that. Upon talking with Randy Dykstra, who had a garden, his business was called the Heartland. Chubb talked to Randy Dykstra, who had a business called Heartland Yard and Guard decided that Heartland was an appropriate name for here in the Midwest.  

Ryan Welch: Make sense, yeah.  

David Horst: So with some discussion and talking over back and forth, we came up with the Heartland Collection of Dwarf and Rare Conifers and is now known because this this collection is known nationwide, isn't it?  

David Horst: Yes. Well of course,after we started the collection here, Chubb became President of the American Conifer Society. The collection got a lot of publicity as well.  

Ryan Welch: Okay.  

David Horst: And became nationally known and still is today. 

We thought also along the way that labeling was important. We decided the Bickelhaupts method of using a black plastic label that's about four inches by two and a half inches was a good way to do it. We have our own engraver that we engrave what we want on ‘em 

And from the start, Chubb wanted the scientific names listed on the label. Over the years, we added the common name because a lot of people came, didn't know what the scientific name meant, the lay person. We did get a lot of people from colleges and universities and nurseries that did know, but we wanted to reach out to all the people.  

So we ended up with the scientific name, the common name. If it was a witches broom, we put that on the tag and then in the lower left hand corner, we'd have an accession number. Basically, the session number is like your Social Security number, the first numbers, the year it was planted.So people that come here can tell how old the plant is  

Ryan Welch: And what it will look like after so many years,.  

David Horst: After so many years. And you can usually add about five years to that because we usually use plants that are five or six years old when we plant ‘em. 

Ryan Welch: All right.  

David Horst: So that's the year it was planted. And then there would be a slash in like a 001. That would be the first plant planted that year. Okay. So people would know, okay, here's how many plants are planted in these years. 

Ryan Welch: Here's how old they are, here's what they will look like and things like that. And like you said, you get a scientific name there and you've got a common name. I tend to use it quite a bit when I bring my students around because I tell them, all right, you know, this is commonly what people will know this by. But scientifically we know as this. And I also point out to them, going back to the whole witches brew with the genetics, I said, you know, these species here are all the same plant species, but genetically there's just a little bit of difference where you're going to get different shapes, different varieties, if you will, and that I use as a learning opportunity when I bring students around.  

David Horst: Yep and that was the main reason we went with the labels like that, uh people come here to learn. And that's very important, the labeling.  

Ryan Welch: Yeah.  

David Horst: And these are attractive labels. They don't distract from the plants or the grounds at all.  

Ryan Welch: They're, they're subtle. Without being so subtle, you can't find them. But yet without being so big that it takes away from what you're trying to look at, which is the plant. They're informative and that's the whole point behind them.  

David Horst: That's right. That's the goal.  

Ryan Welch: That's the goal. So as we have learned, conifers come in many shapes and sizes, but the ones in the Heartland collection are of the dwarf variety. 

This collection shows off many of the options that people could have if they wanted to use the slower growing, shorter plants in their yards and landscapes. As has been pointed out, upkeep and maintenance with these plants can be simpler than other types of evergreens that are commonly used for landscaping. 

We have also gained insight as to how the planning and the layout for this particular collection occurred. We looked at what was involved in the proposal process the assigning of the different beds and how there were some of the plants that were used were obtained and why they were used for this collection. 

This collection also provides a learning experience for people since the plants in the collection were so thoughtfully labeled. This system, which is used in all of the collections at the Arboretum, provides wonderful information for all people, whether they are new to learning about plants or academic scholars looking to gain new knowledge about very specific plants. 

I would like to thank David Horst for sharing his wonderful insights and expertise about this collection and to Otis Welch for the musical selection.