Clark University’s Hadwen Arboretum

I am always eager to explore nearby hiking sites. Sometimes, I will look at Google Maps to discover green spaces. I came across a place called Hadwen Arboretum at Clark University.

Although I have spent most of my life in Worcester, and even attended Clark University, I had never heard of Hadwen Arboretum.

Obadiah Hadwen purchased the property in 1843. Over the next 60 years, Hadwen, an ardent horticulturalist, filled his property with a fine collection of noteworthy tree specimens. He willed his property to nearby Clark University.

From the will of Obadiah Hadwen: “…said estate to be forever kept for the purpose of educating students in Agricultural, Historical, and Arboreal knowledge scientific and practical. I adopt this course with the purpose in view of preserving the trees and plants growing thereon, being a portion of my life work, shall be preserved as an Arboretum, and an object lesson to assist students in the education of the science and art of Arboriculture and improving the landscape.”

We set out to explore this hidden gem in the heart of Worcester. We found a parking space by an entry gate on Lovell Street. We were struck by the majesty of stately trees towering overhead. However, there were a lot of damaged trees and invasive species clogged the understory.

Although the property suffered years of obvious neglect, it was nice to see freshly mulched pathways and new plantings.

The darkness of the forest gave way to a clearing filled with color and life. Echinacea purpura (Purple Coneflower) and Agastache (Giant Hyssop) attracted beautiful Swallowtail butterflies.

The clearing hosts a small community garden. Vegetables grow alongside the wildflowers and a patch of red raspberries.

Hadwen Arboretum is a true “diamond in the rough”. Although the parklands are overgrown, it looks like the community and Clark University are making efforts to preserve Obadiah Hadwen ‘s legacy.

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