A dwarf redwood

A dwarf redwood


Tucked away in a remote part of Athol, Mass., is the Skyfields Arboretum, a 10-acre parcel dedicated to native species, with a focus on edible fruits, nectar and nuts. Unlike many other carefully planned and landscaped arboretums, the policy here is strictly hands-off.

It gives the place a sense of wildness.                                                       

There are some 24 species of native trees and shrubs, many with explanatory plaques, as well as dozens of species of wildflowers. It’s a great place to study the different species in an easily accessible small space.

There is one tree there that caught my eye and had me puzzled. I had never seen one like it before. It stands by itself, out in a meadow. It has no identifying plaque. When I got back home I went through all my field guides and couldn’t find anything like it.

On a return trip, there was a staff person, and so I asked him what it was. He called it a dwarf redwood. I couldn’t find out much about it, other than it appears to be a cultivar, developed to accommodate property owners who didn’t have space enough to accommodate the larger species. An interesting tree, nevertheless.

The entire property consists of 40 mostly wooded acres with several trails winding through them. There is a farmhouse dating back to the 1800s. It had been the summer home of famed concert organist E. Power-Biggs and his wife Margaret. Peggy, as she was known, bequeathed the property to the Mount Grace Land Trust in 1999, and since 2001 the trust has used it as their headquarters.

Directions and more information can be found at their website: