McCrory Gardens and State Arboretum earn accreditation


BROOKINGS – South Dakota State University’s McCrory Gardens and the South Dakota State Arboretum have been awarded a Level 1 Accreditation by The ArbNet Arboretum Accreditation Program and The Morton Arboretum for achieving particular standards of professional practices deemed important for arboreta and botanic gardens. 

The ArbNet Arboretum Accreditation Program is the only global initiative to officially recognize arboreta at various levels of development, capacity and professionalism. SDSU is also now recognized as an accredited arboretum in the Morton Register of Arboreta, a database of the world’s arboreta and gardens dedicated to woody plants.

McCrory Gardens is a botanical garden and arboretum operated and maintained by South Dakota State University. With more than 25 acres of formal display gardens and 45 acres of arboretum featuring hundreds of different flowers, trees, shrubs and grasses, McCrory Gardens is a showcase to display, educate and further the development of new varieties.

“Becoming accredited by ArbNet reinforces our mission of connecting people and plants in a supportive and diverse community while simultaneously laying a path down for us to constantly strive to reach the next level to provide an indispensable horticultural resource for the public,” said Christopher Schlenker, McCrory Gardens’ horticulture and grounds manager.

To celebrate the accreditation, McCrory Gardens will plant three Cladrastis kentukea (yellowwood) trees Friday in the arboretum. The yellowwood was selected due to it being an underutilized tree that provides diversity in the landscape.

The South Dakota State Arboretum features trees and shrubs that are adapted to South Dakota’s harsh climate. In addition, new selections of trees and shrubs are planted to test their adaptability to the state’s growing conditions. Designated the South Dakota State Arboretum in 1988, it has a long history of ornamentals research, beginning with the work of Sam McCrory and N.E. Hansen. Hansen was responsible for over 50 ornamental plant introductions to the early green industry in this country. Recent work by Norm Evers and others resulted in the introduction of many new plants, including Aesculus x homestead, forsythia x meadowlark, Physocarpus opulifolius nugget, Pinus mugo tannenbaum and Thuja occidentalis rushmore.

In addition, the arboretum features 13 species of maple trees, allowing McCrory Gardens to produce maple syrup. More than 800 gallons of maple syrup were collected this past winter to produce 20 gallons of syrup, which are available for purchase in the McCrory Gardens Education and Visitor Center.

ArbNet is an interactive, collaborative, international community of arboreta. ArbNet facilitates the sharing of knowledge, experience, and other resources to help arboreta meet their institutional goals and works to raise professional standards through the ArbNet Arboretum Accreditation Program. The accreditation program, sponsored and coordinated by The Morton Arboretum in Lisle, Illinois, in cooperation with American Public Gardens Association and Botanic Gardens Conservation International, is the only global initiative to officially recognize arboreta based on a set of professional standards. 

The program offers four levels of accreditation, recognizing arboreta of various degrees of development, capacity and professionalism. Standards include planning, governance, public access, programming and tree science, planting and conservation. 

More information is available at www.arbnet.org.

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