||The Boerner Botanical Gardens Arboretum occupies over 1000 acres in Whitnall Park and the adjoining Root River Parkway. The goal of the Arboretum is to display reliable woody ornamental plants for visual pleasure as well as to cooperate with propagation programs of the nursery industry.
The Arboretum was conceived by Alfred L. Boerner, who envisioned a museum of native and introduced woody plants arranged by plant family for display, research and education. At the Arboretum unusual trees and shrubs from all over the world are grown for aesthetic appeal and hardiness.
The Arboretum also contains a wealth of native trees and shrubs. Oaks and maples dating from before 1750 are still thriving. You'll also find mature trees, basswoods, shagbark and butternut, hickories, black walnuts and hawthorns. Large stately American elms, once found in abundance, are now quite rare. The largest remaining American elm grows in the annual garden. One of the oldest sugar maples in Wisconsin is growing southeast of the intersection of Grange Avenue and 76th Street on the Root River Parkway (its birth is estimated at before 1720). A number of Scotch pines in the evergreen collection represent the oldest introduced woody plants in the Arboretum.
Most noteworthy of the collections is the crabapple collection, started in 1933. In 1986 this collection contained approximately 1000 trees of about 250 species and varieties, making this collection the largest known of its type in America. In 1984, the Arboretum was honored as one of the sites for the national Crabapple Evaluation Program.
From 1937 and continuously until 1940, lilacs were extensively planted in Whitnall Park at the northwest entrance near Lilac Lane. in 1951 a new lilac collection was developed in the Boerner Gardens in close proximity to the parking area. In total there are over 250 lilac specimens. A nut tree collection was started in 1939 which includes various species and varieties of hickory, hazel, chestnut, butternut, filbert, heartnut, as well as horse-chestnut and buckeye. This collection represents a good selection of trees bearing both edible and inedible nuts. Most unusual are the horse-chestnuts whose airy clusters of pink flowers are a delight in mid-May.
Memorial tree plantings assisted the early development of the Arboretum. Individual donations of specimen trees were also important. Outstanding among these donations are an 18 inch circumference River's Copper Beech in 1959, a 50 year old Katsuratree in 1957, a 90 year old Osage orange in 1956 and a 22-, 45- and 52-foot high Sentry Ginkgo, two in 1953 and one in 1961.
With the loss of elm trees to Dutch Elm Disease, new tree plantings were made from 1967 to 1969 on the islands of the parking area of the Gardens. In this relatively small area there are about 60 tree specimens which give a visitor the opportunity to view a large selection of shade trees.
Additional information on the collections can be found in the Garden House. The Guide to Ornamental Crabapples takes you through some of the best crabapples recommended for landscaping. Major shrub collections are shown on the Garden Map leaflet
The Boerner Botanical Gardens and Arboretum is a living outdoor showplace. A wealth of tree specimens can be found throughout the Arboretum, especially in the area of the Gardens. All of the major tree groupings are noted on the map available at the Garden House.
Boerner Botanical Gardens
9400 Boerner Drive, Hales Corners, WI 53130