Quarterly Newsletter of
Friends of Jensen - Olson Arboretum
Autumn Issue September 2019
Quarterly News and Updates
In this issue: Curating a Collection; Autumn at the Arboretum
Curating a Plant Collection
Our curated plant collection is the heart of what makes the Jensen-Olson Arboretum a living museum. So, what exactly does it mean to have a curated plant collection and why is that important? What drives the collection?
Most people associate a curated collection with museums where items are assembled, catalogued, managed, and displayed in artistic and cultural collections. Curation, in a botanical context, means applying all those principles to the plants themselves - a living museum. An excellent example of a botanical collections policy is that of Arnold Arboretum.

After opening as a public garden in 2007, we created the Jensen-Olson Arboretum Plant Collections and Acquisitions Policy (PCAP) to include in our many governing documents. The PCAP states “The purpose of this document is to guide the development and management of the Jensen-Olson Arboretum’s (JOA) living collections. The policy shall ensure that plants comprising the collection are properly and consistently acquired, accessioned, labeled, evaluated and maintained”. 

Standards of curation raise the value, prestige and long term sustainability of the Arboretum, as well as provide oversight for acquisition, teaching, and research. Without these curatorial practices, we’re just a pretty seaside park; that in and of itself is a good thing, but our benefactor, Caroline Jensen intended that the Arboretum “both teach and inspire learning in horticulture…” which in essence directed our implementation of creating a curated collection.  Our PCAP acts as a living document which makes it possible to change and adapt the collections as deemed necessary. As both winter and summer weather in Juneau changes, this policy will provide direction in being able to acquire plants better suited for a changing climate. An example of this is that some of our more rare Primula species have died due to either lack of adequate winter snow cover, or succumbing to hotter, drier summers. 

In building the collection, all plants are selected for a single, ultimate criteria - horticultural merit. Some plants are subject to an additional criteria of expanding the Nationally Accredited Plant Collection TM for the Genus Primula. As many of you know, gardening can be challenging in Southeast Alaska’s cool (and changing), maritime climate. It’s not so much that cold limits what we can grow, but the historic lack of summer heat has been the determining factor for what plants are successful garden candidates that provide interest throughout the growing season. New plants are acquired through commercial nurseries, other public gardens around the world, plant breeding programs, seed exchanges (both domestic and international) and plant collecting expeditions. Plants are displayed in a landscaped manner (as opposed to trial plots grown in rows) that highlights ways in which they can be incorporated into our visitors’ own gardens.
I wear many hats while managing the Arboretum, and for me, the most enjoyable hat is the one that I wear as curator. In that role, I’m responsible for acquiring new plants, recording them in the plant database, and documenting their success or failure over time. In the case of plant mortality, I am responsible for de-accessioning plants from the database. Our plant database, IrisBG, is the industry standard for plant collections; I wish I had more time available to curate the collection to a higher level (in situ images of all plants, completed mapping of all plants, and other long-term goals for the database). Many thanks to the Rasmuson Foundation for awarding our 2014 proposal allowing us to purchase the software and hardware for the database with grant funds. In addition, collections data from the Arboretum is made available to researchers worldwide through Botanic Gardens Conservation International - a worldwide database of living plants, seed, and tissue collections with 1.4 million entries from more than 1,100 contributing institutions.
The part of the collection that I’m most proud of is our Nationally Accredited Plant Collection TM for the Genus Primula. This accreditation is administered by the Plant Collections Network, of the American Public Gardens Association. Preparing the application, preparing for the on-site assessment, and maintaining the list of requirements once awarded, was and has been a joy. Housing a National Collection puts the Arboretum in with some very good company among all public gardens in North America. Only about 10% of the more than 600 member institutions have been awarded National Collections status. As the Arboretum grows as an institution over the coming years, and as it literally grows its collection, I plan on being a part of the evolving nature of the collection from afar as an engaged volunteer.
So, what does all this mean for our visitors? Not only do visitors have the visually stimulating experience that an afternoon stroll will bring, but an educational experience as well. By examining our What’s in Bloom board upon arrival at the Arboretum, visitors identify and learn a variety of plants as well as a bit of botanical Latin. By joining one of our plant tours, visitors are introduced to new, rare or unusual plants, as well as the backstory of those plants - where they grow (cultivation), how the tongue-twisting botanical name relates to what it looks like (morphology), and how it was acquired for the Arboretum (accession data). 

Curating a collection ties to Caroline’s vision for the Arboretum, not only to teach and inspire, but also to preserve the beauty of the landscape for pure aesthetic enjoyment.  

Merrill Jensen
Many thanks to all those who joined us for the Friends of Jensen-Olson Arboretum fundraiser in September at Amalga Distillery. A special thanks to those at Amalga for making it possible, and for their support throughout
the botanically inspired evening.
Lovely Loo Update
Fundraising is still underway for the Lovely Loo. Donations may be made through the Juneau Community Foundation or on the website of Friends of Jensen - Olson Arboretum or by using the Arboretum donation box and designating your gift toward the Lovely Loo.
~ Look for these highlights in the Winter issue of TWIGS ~
*BugDay! 2019 Highlights *Docent Training Opportunity in 2020
*Gardeners' Shed Renovation *Resources: seeds and supplies
Arboretum Wish List

Thank you for asking, and for considering a donation. We appreciate it!
Donations may be dropped off during visitor hours at the Arboretum with a staff member.
* Don Abel gift card (any amount) - where we purchase a specific type of compost
* Glacier Gardens gift card (any amount) - where we purchase some of our plant material

         Mission Statement              
  The vision of the Arboretum is to provide the people of Juneau a place that both teaches and inspires learning in horticulture, natural sciences and landscaping - to preserve the beauty of the landscape for pure aesthetic enjoyment - to maintain the historical and cultural context of the place and its people.
                                                                                                                         Caroline Jensen 
     Friends of Jensen - Olson Arboretum Partners  

Juneau-Gastineau Rotary Club
   Friends of Jensen - Olson Arboretum Board Members  
*Pat Harris, President *Pat Hartman, Vice President *Kim Garnero, Treasurer *Secretary, Pat White
Members at Large: Chiska Derr, Mary Mathisen, Lauren Smoker
Ex-Officio Member: Merrill Jensen
Newsletter Editor: Kelly Jensen
TWIGS - a quarterly publication 
Spring/March ~~ Summer/June ~~ Autumn/September ~~ Winter/December

Friends of Jensen - Olson Arboretum
friendsjoa@gmail.com | friendsjoarboretum.org
Friends of Jensen - Olson Arboretum is a 501(c)3 charitable organization.
Contributions to FJOA are tax deductible.
Caring for Caroline's Garden
Jensen - Olson Arboretum
23035 Glacier Hwy       Juneau, Alaska 99801    907.789.0139
Visitor Hours: Wednesday - Sunday, 9am - 4:45pm, year round

Nationally Accredited Plant Collection TM of the genus PrimulaTM
Merrill Jensen, BS Ornamental Horticulture
Arboretum Manager and Horticulturist