Friends of Laurelwood Arboretum is celebrating its 15th birthday this year, and we plan to mark this milestone with a full program of educational programs and community activities from April through November. As we begin this anniversary year, we would like to express our sincere appreciation for the continuing support of Wayne Mayor Christopher Vergano and the Township’s Parks and Recreation Department. We also thank the Wayne Township Council for authorizing the funds we need to manage the arboretum.
We look back with pride on the many accomplishments of the past, which include construction of our Sensory Garden, the Knippenberg Center for Education and an Educational Greenhouse. Recent news is reported in the Friends of Laurelwood Arboretum Annual Report for 2017, which can be found at www.laurelwoodarboretum.org.
In 2017, we hosted seven educational programs, eight monthly gardening discussions, seven free tours for the public, seven scout groups, two art exhibits, and a jazz concert. The parking lots were often full, and the arboretum welcomed an estimated 15,000 visitors this year.
Our volunteer numbers have swelled to over 200 energetic people who helped maintain our gardens, roads and equipment and served on the board of directors and the many committees that planned and executed our programs and activities. Volunteers donated more than 11,866 hours of their time in 2017. This represents a contribution of $325,840 based on the nationally accepted volunteer hourly rate.
We are particularly proud of the work of our dedicated Plant Collection Management Committee, which continued its efforts to identify and tag Laurelwood’s trees, shrubs and plants and then create a detailed record for each. The database now contains over 1,000 records of identified plants. The Rhododendron Study Team has identified 272 rhododendrons and tagged 214. Four William Paterson University interns worked with this committee on plant identification, plant location mapping, data collection and entry, and plant tagging.
Plant Collection Management is one of our most important programs and has elevated the status of the arboretum in the horticultural community. The Rutgers Master Gardener Association presented its 2017 State Award to our committee.
Friends are the mainstay of our organization. Membership dues and the voluntary contributions of our members are critical to our continuing success. I’m very pleased to report a substantial growth in membership in 2017 with 464 members, (that includes 25 Lifetime members and 12 five-year members).
Our website, www.laurelwoodarboretum.org, is constantly updated with important information about the arboretum and Friends of Laurelwood Arboretum’s programs. Our monthly e-newsletter is sent to more than 1,000 members and supporters, keeping them informed of upcoming events. We also have a very up-to-date Facebook page with 470 “Friends.” Photos of the arboretum and events at Laurelwood are posted regularly on Instagram and Twitter.
This has been a successful fundraising year for Friends of Laurelwood. Our annual Gift of Green mailing helped us start off the gardening season and brought in substantially more donations than in previous years. Donors continue to order patio pavers. We installed a mail slot at the Knippenberg Center to encourage spontaneous gifts from visitors to the arboretum. We closed out the year by participating in the global Giving Tuesday campaign. Donations to the Laurelwood Arboretum Plant Restoration Fund will allow us to replace a number of dead and damaged trees and shrubs. Contributions to the Laurelwood Arboretum Irrigation Improvement Program will make it possible for us to begin Phase I of our plan to upgrade the arboretum’s watering system.
This year, we were also successful in securing important grants. We were awarded a $2,850 grant from the American Rhododendron Society for the publication of a brochure on the history of rhododendron hybridization at Laurelwood. The Passaic County Open Space and Farmland Preservation Trust and Wayne Township awarded grants to help fund the replacement of the arboretum’s propagation greenhouse at the top of the hill, which was built in the 1930s and is in a state of advanced disrepair. The Stanley Smith Horticultural Trust gave us a grant of $15,725 for replacement of a utility vehicle used by our arboretum staff. And the Ira A. Roschelle MD Family Foundation awarded us $1,000 for educational programs and community activities.
Board meetings are the 4th Thursday of each month at 4:30 pm at the Knippenberg Center, except for January, February and March when they are in the Mayor’s Conference room if weather limits access to the arboretum. Board meetings are always open to the public.
Laurelwood Arboretum is open to everyone free of charge daily year ‘round from 8 am to dusk (except in emergency conditions). The Knippenberg Center for Education is open April through October, Tuesday through Sunday, 12 p.m. to 4 p.m., weather permitting.
President, Friends of Laurelwood Arboretum