In the early 1950s, Dr. Arlo Smith came up with a new idea for his biology students to get hands-on experience in tree care and growth. He established an arboretum on campus named after himself that would house various species of trees from all around the world. Since then, many Rhodes teachers have been involved in maintaining this beautiful landmark through watering plants during dry seasons and pruning off dead leaves when necessary throughout time until today where they are still being cared for by current faculty members at Rhodes University.
They were inspired by their predecessors’ work ethic towards preserving nature everywhere on earth so people can live comfortably outdoors without worrying about harmful effects of climate change on vegetation such as droughts or floods destroying crops worldwide resulting in immense food shortages across the globe.
Rhodes University is part of the Rhodes group of colleges that also includes Rhodes College in Memphis, Tennessee which was established by Dr. Smith’s efforts to create a campus arboretum just like what he did with Rhodes University earlier on before transferring his duty to other faculty members who have been doing their best ever since then towards conserving nature for everyone’s benefit worldwide.
They do this so that they can continue enjoying being outside without worrying about skin diseases or respiratory problems caused by air pollution due to deforestation everywhere around the earth without any hesitation whatsoever resulting from careless negligence against Mother Nature throughout time until today when humans are still thriving off natural resources as if there will be no tomorrow causing serious damage to the planet and its inhabitants’ well-being forever more unless people realize how important it is to take care of the environment and become more aware of how their actions affect plants, animals, and people’s lives.
The Rhodes College Arboretum has approximately 120 tree species and over 1,500 unique trees as of 2017.
The following sections discuss the Arboretum’s cultural and ecological value by focusing on six key sites. All of these trees have tags with their common name as well as their scientific names. Additionally, there are other tagged trees throughout campus that you can visit to learn more about them!
Rollow Avenue of Oaks
In 1924, John Rollow established the Rollow Avenue of Oaks using saplings from the College’s prior site in Clarksville. There are two types of magnolias on this avenue. The Sweetbay and Southern Magnolia trees.
The Fisher Garden
As you walk through the Fisher Garden, be sure to check out its beauty and take in the lush greenery. You’ll see a Sweetgum Tree on your right-hand side starting at Phillips Lane that is known for its star shape. If it’s not too hot outside or if there are no events going on during your visit, make time to sit under one of these trees with an interesting history like Shagbark Hickory that has yellowish bark peeling off into long strips hanging down from branches while still attached to the trunk.
Palmer Quad is a sight to behold in the spring, with flowering Dogwood trees greeting you as you approach. When these blooms fade away and warmer weather hits town, dive into Tulip Poplar season! These majestic beauties line either side of Frazier Jelke Amphitheater along Palmer Lawn. Bring your lawn chairs because from April through June they put on quite an impressive show where their tulip-shaped flowers bloom bright among summer’s lush green grasses. In addition to all of this tree glory are several Crape Myrtles lining parts of both sides of the amphitheater for yet another vibrant flower display during July and August!
Paul Barret, Jr. Library
Did you know that there is a Dawn Redwood outside of Barret Library? This species was previously thought to be extinct, but it now thrives on the Frazier Jelke deck. The Overcup Oak trees planted near Briggs Student Center are one of the fastest-growing oak varieties in North America and can grow up to 50 feet tall over their lifetime!
The resident halls in the area adjacent to Thomas Lane may be familiar as they were featured in Judd Nelson’s film, Making The Grade. Look out for a Gingko tree on the other side of Thomas Lane – it is distinctive with its fan-shaped leaves and foul-smelling fruit which can make people feel sick if ingested!
Rossana Cappellato Memorial
The memorial named in honor of the late Professor Rosanna Cappellato is located outside Catherine Burrow Refectory. The Scarlet Oak, planted after her death in 2012, serves as a reminder of how dedicated she was to securing Rhodes’ Class IV Arboretum accreditation and leaving behind an inspiring legacy for future students at the University.
The Rhodes College Arboretum is a hidden gem in Memphis. It’s an oasis of beauty, tranquility, and natural wonder that you can visit any time day or night. From the towering trees to the small flowers on the ground and everything in between, there are plenty of things to see in this unique space near campus. If you haven’t been there yet, visit soon before Fall arrives!
Memphis, Tennessee, has some of the country’s most diverse and gorgeous botanical gardens. Here’s a short list of our favorites:
- Memphis Botanic Garden
- My Big Backyard at Memphis Botanic Garden
- Oaklawn Garden
- Carlisle S. Page Arboretum
- Overton Park Formal Gardens
- Danny & Rose Marie Thomas Memorial Garden
- Dixon Gallery & Gardens
- Central Gardens Neighborhood
These amazing gardens are located just down the street from our location at Summer Avenue between Estridge Drive and Eastern Drive. Stop by for a visit anytime!