Bickelhaupt Arboretum Podcast

Join Clinton Community College Science Instructor, Ryan Welch, on his exploration of the Bickelhaupt Arboretum's history and plant collections through interviews with the Arboretum's long time staff and volunteers.

Thanks to Margo Hanson, former Director of Programs, David Horst, Director of Horticulture, Francie Hill, the Bickelhaupts's daugher and volunteers Joyce Oley, Raymond Smith and Marion Johnson.

Episode 01: Introduction to the Bickelhaupt Arboretum: A Brief History

Our first in a series of podcasts about the Bickelhaupt arboretum. In this podcast we talk with Margo Hansen former director of programs for the arboretum, about the history of the arboretum and get an idea about who the Bickelhaupts were. Their daughter Francie Hill gives us a unique perspective about her parents and what led them to start this arboretum and what challenges they had during the beginning of this project. David Horst director of horticulture for the arboretum, talks about how the master plan for the arboretum was developed and what that meant for the planning and layout of the arboretum itself and how that has changed over the years.

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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.

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Episode 03: Witches Brooms and Reference Garden

In this podcast we discuss a unique aspect of conifers known as a Witches Broom. These unique growths are often due to different stresses that can occur with these plants and often lead to novel growth patterns, colors, and arrangements. David Horst tells about how these have been incorporated into the collections at the arboretum, and how many of the witches’ brooms that are there are local growths that he himself has discovered and, in some cases, even had the opportunity to name. He also tells us how the arboretum became a reference garden by the American Conifer society and why that is important for the educational goals of the arboretum.

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Episode 04: People and Weather of the Arboretum

While it is true that an arboretum is a showcase for woody plant material, it is the people that work and maintain that plant material that really bring life to an arboretum. In this podcast talk with the Bickelhaupts daughter about some of the things that inspired the Bickelhaupts to start the arboretum as well as the initial obstacles they faced during this process. We also get to know Margo Hansen, the former director of programs and David Horst the director of horticulture a bit better. They tell us about their backgrounds and how these life experiences have influenced what they do at the arboretum. Much of their work is outside with the plants and David Horst also tells us how the weather dictates much of the work that is done on a day to day basis and how weather extremes affect the plants themselves. 

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Episode 05: Crabapple Collection

One of the earliest collections of trees that was started at the arboretum was its crabapple collection. In this podcast we dive into a little bit of the history of the crabapple tree and its significance for Iowa. David Horst talks about the history of the collection at the arboretum and how it got started. We also talk about the addition of the daffodils under these trees and how these plants add to the overall crabapple collection. Since these are living trees the collection also changes over time for a variety of reasons, these along with the benefits that come from owning and planting crabapple trees along with how to properly care for them is also discussed towards the end of the podcast. 

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Episode 06: Stout Medal Daylily and Mercy Garden Collection

While the Bickelhaupt Arboretum is a collection of woody plant material, some of the collections that are showcased are of non-woody plants. Two of those collections are their Daylily collection, which features daylily varieties that have won the coveted Stout Medal, and the Mercy Hospice Garden, which is an area that people can contemplate and reflect. In this podcast we learn about both of these areas of the arboretum in terms of their history and development, the plants that can be found there, and how these plants can be used in gardens and landscapes for both beauty and sustenance.  

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Episode 07: Hosta Glen

One of the most popular collections at the Bickelhaupt Arboretum is not of woody or shrub like plants, but rather of a shade tolerant perennials that are easy for most people to grow. In this podcast, we look at the history, popularity, and benefits of hostas. These plants have a unique history that can be traced to its origins in Asia. The collection at the arboretum can be traced to a passion that David Horst had and that was encouraged by the arboretums advising board. He will tell us how this very popular collection came to be in 1986. He will also tell us how the American Hosta Society has recognized this collection as a display garden and what goes into maintaining a collection like this. Margo will then tell us why this is one of her favorite plants and what the many benefits of growing and utilizing hostas have for people. 

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Episode 08: Educational Programs

The mission of the Bickelhaupt Arboretum is to serve as a connection between people and plants in the community, especially when it comes to educating people on the benefits, types, and ways that people can use plants in and around their homes. In this podcast, the Bickelhaupt’s daughter Francie Hill first explains how initially one of the biggest obstacles her parents had with the arboretum, was just educating people about what an arboretum was. She also discusses what her role was in developing some of the initial educational programs that are still in use today. Margo and some of the volunteers that run these programs will talk about their work with these programs, and the many area children that they educate about the plants and environment in the area. 

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Episode 09: Volunteers

While there are many types and varieties of collections and plants at the arboretum, so too are there many types and varieties of volunteers that assist at the arboretum. In this podcast, we talk with the Bickelhaupt’s daughter Francie Hill about how she worked on bringing volunteers to the arboretum. David and Margo tells us how important volunteers are to the work that each of them does at the arboretum. We even here from volunteers themselves, telling us what types of volunteer work they and others do for the arboretum and why it is that they do this work. 

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