Quarterly Newsletter of
Friends of Jensen - Olson Arboretum
Autumn Issue September 2020
Quarterly News and Updates
In this issue...an article about trees at the Arboretum; social media updates; a letter from the director (part 1 of 2); and a photo gallery...enjoy!

The Arboretum and its trees
Achieving status as the Nationally Accredited Plant CollectionTM for the genus Primula was among the highlights of my career, but I am also very happy about the significant increase to the collection of trees Caroline left for us. Yesterday, I took a quick stroll around the grounds with my trusty counter-clicker and found that we’ve added 72 new and diverse trees in these 13.5 years. Some of these have been planted to replace bear-damaged mountain ash (Sorbus acuparia), but the majority have been planted solely for additional canopy and interest in the coming years. Some were selected for their fall color (‘Pacific Sunset’ maple and ‘Autumn Blaze’ maple) to add seasonal color and to entice visitors to experience a different type of color display. On sunny, late September and early October afternoons, the light is magical and these trees seem to glow from within. They also give one cheer on gloomy, rainy days. I have worked to carefully balance the need for species diversity, as outlined in our Plant Collections and Acquisitions Policy, with the need to plant non-fruit-bearing trees (so as to not attract bears). Others, the conifers, were selected for their year-round appeal. Some of my favorites are the Japanese White Pine (Pinus parviflora ‘Glauca’) for its soft, bluish needles, and the American Larch (Larix laricina) for its miniature, rose-like cones in the spring, and its striking yellow fall color. The larches are deciduous conifers, meaning that they lose their needles in the fall.

Caroline was always trying new plants to see what might grow here. As a horticulturist, I followed her lead and brought in new material to see what would thrive in Juneau’s unique climate. Unfortunately, some of my favorite plants did not prosper. The most notable disappointments were ginkgo (Ginkgo biloba), dawn redwood (Metasequoia glyptostroboides), and ‘Mikawa Yatsubusa’ Japanese maple (Acer palmatum ‘Mikawa Yatsubusa’). I had high hopes for these for different reasons; the ginkgo was the very first tree whose name I learned. I was in 1st grade when my family visited the Arbor Lodge State Historical Park in Nebraska - home to J. Sterling Morton, founder of Arbor Day. As we walked the grounds, we passed the ginkgo and my mother said that species had been around since the days of the dinosaurs. Wow; I was hooked! I am still in awe of this plant even as I near the end of my public garden career. I did not know about the dawn redwood until my plant materials classes in college. Together with ginkgo, these two species are classified as living fossils and have been living and reproducing for tens of millions of years. The dawn redwood was known only by the fossil record until 1941 when it was discovered living in remote China. Seed was then collected in 1947 during an expedition funded by the Arnold Arboretum at Harvard University. That seed was distributed to various botanical institutions including the Arnold, Missouri Botanical Garden, and the University of California Botanical Garden in Berkeley. I have visited the trees grown from the initial plantings at these gardens, and have had a tangible connection with deep time. The ‘Mikawa Yatsubusa’ Japanese maple was selected for its stunning dwarf form and fall color. Specimens that I have seen in gardens down south left such a lasting impression with me that I hoped I could bring that vision of beauty north. 

I hope Caroline would be pleased with all the new additions to her founding work and vision. Her gardening contemporaries have told me over the years that they think she would enjoy strolling among the new additions to her dream… 
Merrill Jensen
Event updates to report

The Arboretum is open during regular visitor hours, but with COVID concerns still among us, we have several postponements now to report:

Postponed until 2021: Seasonal Docent Volunteer Service, New Docent Training, Party Honoring Life Members
One of the 9 bears visiting the Arboretum during a few days in late August...and some of the subsequent effects.
Social media updates to report

With many thanks to FJOA Board Member, Michelle Duncan, the Friends are announcing a Facebook page and Instagram connection...stay tuned for all the details arriving in your Inbox soon!
Arboretum Director Merrill Jensen, and Seasonal Gardeners Karli and Mattheus...working on just a few of the projects late this Summer and early this Autumn (bulb planting, anyone?)...come stroll the garden and enjoy all the enhancements.
Looking back...a retrospective from the Director
(part 1 of 2)
Well, here I am at the end of a run that I didn’t think would arrive so soon. I first became interested in public horticulture while living in Hawaii. I was watching an episode of PBS’s Victory Garden and they were interviewing employees at a public garden on the East Coast. “Wow, they’re getting paid to work with plants?!” From that point on, my destination was set. The Jensen-Olson Arboretum has been the culminating journey of a dream come true…to work at a botanical institution in Alaska. I had dreamed of living in Alaska since I was in grade school. A relative who lived in Fairbanks would come south for holidays and spin tall Alaska tales after the family dinner. Bears, the Northern Lights, and the thought of vast wilderness created images in my head that have been with me for a lifetime.
While serving in the US Air Force (and before heading to Washington State to study horticulture), I requested positions in Alaska, but my job as a satellite imagery analyst did not translate to the needs of government operations in Alaska. 

After school, and while working in the seed and nursery industries, I continually checked job boards in hopes of finding a position that could fulfill my dream and bring us North. Kelly and I made Alaska a vacation destination and loved the vastness that makes Alaska special. I knew that there were 2 public gardens here - Alaska Botanical Garden in Anchorage and the Georgeson Botanical Garden located on the main campus of UAF. In the pre-internet days (did those really exist??) searching positions at public gardens was a challenge. One had to know somebody at an institution who would know of openings. 

That brought me to my first position in public horticulture at the Idaho Botanical Garden in Boise. The Director of Horticulture knew my educational background and skill set; he needed assistance with some new projects including their children’s garden and their alpine troughs. Finally, I was off into the big, wonderful world of public gardens! 
Merrill Jensen
(Editor’s note: see the Winter issue of TWIGS for the rest of the story…)

* stay tuned for event details in your email inbox throughout the coming year as we adjust schedules based on safety measures related to COVID
Visit our website to become a member
or to gift a membership today!
Seasonal Gardener Karli prepares container pots for Winter storage
Story developing...all the details for these photos and the associated project in the Winter issue of TWIGS!
~ Look for these highlights in the Winter issue of TWIGS 

*A Look Back - a letter from the Arboretum Director (part 2 of 2)

*Grant proposal submissions and awards fund enhancements to visitor education and outreach - announcing the JOA Visitor Map and Field Guide

* Climate change and the National Collection

*New interpretive signage added to the Arboretum
A visitor to the Chilkats View Shelter
        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 White, President *Mary Mathisen, Vice President *Kim Garnero, Treasurer *Lauren Smoker, Secretary
Members at Large: Michelle Duncan, Pat Harris, Aurah Landau
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 CollectionTM of the genus PrimulaTM
Merrill Jensen, BS Ornamental Horticulture
Arboretum Manager and Horticulturist