The arboretum at Fryfogel Tavern has earned a first for Canada.
The five-acre site is, so far, the only one in the country to be awarded accreditation by the ArbNet Arboretum Accreditation Program and The Morton Arboretum of Lisle, Illinois.
“It’s a great achievement and they are our first accredited arboretum in Canada, which is really exciting,” said Murphy Westwood, tree conservation specialist at the 1,700-acre Morton in a telephone interview Tuesday.
“One of the aspects of Fryfogel that we thought was really fantastic is the amount of effort they are putting into restoration and emphasizing native species in their planting.
“It’s just fantastic. They’ve been doing a wonderful job of that. We were very impressed.”
Criteria for accreditation include planning, governance, labelling of species, volunteer or staff support, public access and programming, as well as tree science, planting and conservation.
The site, located a few kilometres east of Shakespeare on Highway 7/8, is home now to dozens of native tree species, as well as a pollinator garden and several heritage plants in a vegetable-and-herb garden.
In its announcement, ArbNet lauded Fryfogel’s efforts to identify native trees, shrubs and wildflowers, as well as its work to remove non-native species like Siberian elm, Norway spruce and black walnut.
The Morton Arboretum launched ArbNet in 2011 to create an interactive, worldwide community of tree-based arboreta. An accompanying accreditation program was developed, with arboreta from around the globe welcome to submit applications.
“This international initiative offers four levels of accreditation, recognizing arboreta of various degrees of development, capacity and professionalism,” a release from ArbNet said.
Fryfogel earned a Level 1 accreditation. Larger, more established arboreta are eligible to apply for accreditation of up to Level 4, though, as Westwood stressed, it’s not a competition.
“The idea is that we’re helping arboreta identify standards,” she explained. “There were no universal standards. There was never really a guide for that beforehand.”
Level 3 and 4 arboreta provide benchmarks of quality and can offer support and guidance to smaller or newer arboreta, she added.
The Morton has also created a database of arboreta and public gardens with its Morton Register of Arboreta. Currently, the register has more than 800 sites listed, including arboreta in about 10 different countries.
With accreditation comes perks like a dedicated page on the ArbNet website to promote activities and events, as well as a mention by various social media linked to the site, she noted. It also offers networking opportunities with other arboreta around the world.
“The more arboreta we accredit, the more we discover fantastic projects and interesting or novel ways of doing tours or interpretations, and conservation projects.”
The distinction offers a number of potential benefits on a more local level, she added
“We have found that arboreta getting Level 1 or Level 2 accreditation gives them more clout with policy makers, and in their community. It really is a great way to validate their efforts. We hope that it opens up a lot of doors.”
Local landscape architect Jane Eligh-Feryn agreed. She is the original designer of the arboretum and a current facilitator of the ongoing project.
“It’s wonderful for the arboretum and for the Fryfogel program we’re trying to establish,” she said.
“It’s another step in the process of our getting recognized. Something like this helps to establish our credibility.
“Any chance we have to draw people onto the site, and have them check it out and be curious about what we’re doing, all the better.”
She credited the efforts of volunteers, including the tireless onsite work of arborist Roger Cook as well as the vision of arboretum chairman White, as being instrumental in gaining the accreditation.
White called it “a feather in our cap” which helps spread the word about the current and future potential of the Fryfogel site.
For more information on the ArbNet program, visit www.arbnet.org.