Vanderbilt Arboretum Blog

Hundred year-old elms near the Vaughn Home


Vanderbilt is well-known for its large and ancient oaks and magnolias.  In this post, I would like to bring attention to another kind of tree that is significant in the arboretum: elms.  Distinctive for their graceful, fan-shaped branches, they were once common but have now become relatively rare.  Vanderbilt’s arboretum is home to a number…

Posted by on April 7, 2018 in News


The Urban Legend that Won’t Die

Of all of the interesting topics related to Vanderbilt’s arboretum, none is more full of folklore than that of the status of the arboretum itself.  This past week, students in my Intro to Biological Sciences lab course went out on campus to identify and measure trees.  In addition to my general happiness associated with being outside…

Posted by on March 24, 2018 in News


Inspired by Galloway’s Ginkgo

Recently I happened to run into Andrew Michel on campus and we struck up a conversation about the trees on campus.  He was telling me how much he loved the big ginkgo tree near Kirkland Hall that was spared in the construction of the new residential college.  (This tree has been called “Galloway’s Ginkgo” and…

Posted by on May 12, 2017 in News

Kirkland Hall framed by giant southern magnolias

Kirkland Hall’s Big Trees

Kirkland Hall is the historic and administrative center of Vanderbilt University.  Built in 1875, it was the first building constructed on campus after the founding of the university.  It is the probably the most photographed building on campus and is often one of the first buildings seen by visitors to campus.  After the large clock…

Posted by on December 20, 2015 in News

Silhouette of southern red oak 2-123 as seen from the "front porch" of MRB III

The School of Nursing’s southern red oak

In an interview, I was once asked what was my favorite tree in the arboretum.  The question caught me off guard and I think that I said that it was the persimmon tree in front of Branscomb quad.  Although that is a very interesting tree, I knew immediately afterward that I had given the wrong…

Posted by on December 7, 2015 in News

Peabody Demonstration School students on "The Green" in the 1950's

Magnolia Lawn (Part 2): PDS/USN

Peabody Green In my previous post, I looked into the origins of what is now called “Magnolia Lawn” and tried to track down the histories of some of the oldest trees there.  At the time I wrote that post, I was wondering about the origin of the name “Magnolia Lawn”.  Since that time, I’ve had…

Posted by on November 13, 2015 in News

Aerial photo of Magnolia Lawn, about 1930.  Enlargement of the image PC.CAS.AERP.013 courtesy Vanderbilt University Special Collections and University Archives

Magnolia Lawn (Part 1)

Magnolia Lawn imagined In my last post, I wrote about how the distinctive character of Peabody College developed over the hundred years since it was constructed at the current location.  The most noticeable feature is the Esplanade, which evolved into its current form as buildings were constructed and small trees grew up along its sides…

Posted by on October 25, 2015 in News


The Trees of Peabody College

The history of trees on the main Vanderbilt campus is fairly well known (see the Arboretum History page on the Vanderbilt Arboretum website).  However, prior to the merger of Peabody College with Vanderbilt University in 1979, the Peabody campus had a history that was separate from Vanderbilt’s, so details of the history of Peabody’s trees…

Posted by on October 1, 2015 in News


How Do You Prepare for a Catastrophe ?

In 2008 my family in northwestern Ohio was having to deal with a sudden, unexpected problem.  Most of the large trees in my father-in-law’s front yard were white ash trees and they were all dying, killed by the emerald ash borer (EAB). In order to prevent the dead trees from falling onto his home, he…

Posted by on April 3, 2015 in News

Emerald ash borer (c) David Cappaert, Michigan State University, CC BY-NC

The Beetles are Coming!

In this guest blog post, School For Science and Math at Vanderbilt seniors Daniel Mehus, Liza MacPherson, and Valeria Garcia describe the work they are doing to raise awareness about the destructive Emerald Ash Borer invasion that will devastate Nashville’s ash trees. This is the first in a series of posts about the Emerald Ash…

Posted by on March 11, 2015 in News


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