Neighborhood Arboreta: Learn about your urban forest!

by Cate Hughes

Atlanta’s myriad neighborhoods are remarkably distinct from one another, each with its own character. So, too, is the tree density, distribution, and species selection across neighborhoods. Atlanta is the “city in a forest,” but within that forest are pockets of remarkable diversity. Trees Atlanta’s Neighborhood Arboreta exemplify this. They’re prime examples of the wide variety of trees you can find in our city when you stop to take a closer look.

If you’ve walked through the Virginia-Highland, Sylvan Hills, or Inman Park neighborhoods (just to name a few), you have likely noticed the granite markers scattered throughout the ‘hood, each designating a different tree species. Arboreta are most typically found in parks, nature preserves, or botanical gardens. An arboretum, most generally, is a botanical collection composed of trees (or, more loosely, woody plants) — a living tree museum. Often used for scientific study or educational purposes, the trees in an arboretum are marked, especially in public spaces where visitors might not be familiar with different tree species.

In a city so forested, you don’t have to visit the Atlanta Botanical Gardens to get your arboreal fill. Many of Atlanta’s neighborhoods are functionally arboreta, as the variety of trees planted along right of ways or in front yards are widely diverse, each neighborhood its own unique collection. Over the years, Trees Atlanta has designated seven neighborhoods as official Neighborhood Arboreta, granite markers and all. One of the first Neighborhood Arboreta was Sylvan Hills, thanks to the support of then-president of the Sylvan Hills Neighborhood Association, Sigrid Read. In Reynoldstown, the community decided to focus on edible and fruiting trees. You’ll see an impressive variety of trees in Inman Park, including the gorgeous coast redwood (Sequoia sempervirens), originally planted in the early 20th century. A storm damaged the original tree decades ago, and a “second growth” has grown more than 70 feet since.

Designed to encourage community involvement with the urban forest, the Neighborhood Arboreta program provides easy access to learn more about the trees in several neighborhoods around town. Looking for something to do on a breezy Saturday? Check out our Arboreta maps online and hit the streets! If you’re interested in a guided tour of the Reynoldstown Arboretum, join Trees Atlanta and Concrete Jungle on Thursday, August 16th for A Taste of Reynoldstown. Sign up here, or email Michelle for more information. Hope to see you out there!