Amherst Arboretum project to be recognized at bi-national conference

Amherst Arboretum Entrance Garden in Amherst NY
Entrance Gardens. Photo courtesy Amherst Arboretum

The Amherst Conservation Advisory Council will be recognized for the Arboretum at Amherst State Park Project at the 2013 Conference on the Environment: A Bi-National Summit be held Thursday and Friday, Oct. 3 and 4, at the Adam’s Mark Hotel in Buffalo. The conference is for environmental professionals and community leaders from the United States and Canada.

The public can attend the conference’s opening event, an evening with Gord Downie, front man for the band The Tragically Hip, at 6 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 3. Tickets are $25 and will help raise funds for Buffalo Niagara Riverkeeper.

The arboretum was recognized with the Environmental Excellence Award in the Community Action and Engagement Category. Dave Copeland, conservation council member, submitted the paperwork and photos. Lois Shriver, chairman of the Arboretum Committee and chairman of the Amherst Conservation Advisory Council, will accept the award.

The arboretum (a place where woody plants are cultivated for educational and ornamental purposes) is located at 400 Mill St., Williamsville, between Main and Sheridan at the site of the former St. Mary’s Convent.

The project is in its fifth year and has been planted and maintained by community volunteers, Shriver said. A very small core of dedicated volunteers does most of the planting, weeding, watering and other maintenance. More volunteers help out with big tasks, such as spreading 85 cubic yards of compost.

The volunteers started five years ago by planting daffodils in the area above the orchard in the hope they will naturalize, Shriver said.

Three years ago they moved to the front of the park and started on the Entrance Gardens, seen in the photo at the beginning of this article, by removing the dead shrubs, trees and yew bushes. The Entrance Gardens consist of three gardens totaling 1,500 square feet. Perennials were selected that were native, deer resistant and heat and drought tolerant, and would attract birds, butterflies and pollinators.

“So far, so good,” she said.

 North Fence Garden in Amherst NY
North Fence Garden. Photo courtesy Amherst Arboretum

The other main area is what the volunteers are calling the North Fence Garden, which you can see at left. It’s a huge garden– 447 feet long and 20 feet deep. It took the Town of Amherst Highway Department a week to clear the entire area along the entrance driveway of all dead, overgrown and dying shrubs and trees, she said. The town provided money for new trees, shrubs and perennials.

The volunteers did all the planting.

“We are trying to use ground covers and perennials in this garden using the same criteria as for the front gardens,” Shriver siad.

“Approximately one third of the North Fence garden is a shade garden using various ferns, bleeding hearts and a variety of coral bells.

“Our next project is to develop a ‘Millstone Garden’ featuring a millstone replica. A plaque providing educational information relating to the history and economic development of Williamsville and Amherst, based on the numerous grain and saw mills in the area, will be located in the garden.

“We also plan to identify and label various tree specimens, plants, shrubs, and invasive plants. Informational signage is planned to identify the various habitats in the park. The signs will identify flora and fauna for each different habitat including wetlands, meadow, the riparian corridor along Ellicott Creek and the historic Orchard Area.” (A riparian area is the interface between land and a stream.)

If you’d like to volunteer, contact Shriver at


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