Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Visting Holden a great perk/w Flipcam video

There are several reasons why I consider myself truly blessed for being this newspaper's all things outdoors. That includes covering (besides hunting and fishing) items such as the environment, the weather, and the area's three county metroparks.

Another great perk is being able to cover from the inside out the Kirtland-based Holden Arboretum. This is one of the country largest - and leading - such institutions.

And never was I more pleased than during a tour Monday of the main campus grounds by the institution's CEO (and jazz musician, for which I am willing to forgive) Clem Hamilton and Holden's multi-tasking David Desimone who does the institution's marketing, media relations and similarly vital assignments.

The tour was with our own Janet Podolak who often writes about Holden's frilly, flowery and pretty side while I bend more toward toward the corporate, business and institutional side of things.

Anyway, you could tell that Hamilton was super excited over Holden's still-developing "A New Leaf" concept. This entity is in its infancy and developmental stages. It is intended to bring the institution further along to make it a must go-to destination. Not just for members, either.

Rather, Holden is preparing (for example) a large "Working Woods" where the now mothballed sugar bush stands. This research plot will help owners of their own private woodlots learn about the best forest management practices for their respective holdings.

Hamilton also pointed out as we used an electric golf cart to tour the grounds the area that will be known as "Home Gardens." Here, Hamilton says, will exist a large and varied sweep of land cordeoned off that will individually demonstrate the kinds of gardens that homeowners can realistically replicate.

And Hamilton gushed (rightfully so, too) over the plans for a much-expanded visitors center. This new structure will consist of about 15,000 square feet while the existing visitors center has 9,000 square feet.

"While our primary focus is on gardens we thought we needed a new visitors center, too," Hamilton said.

If there was any one specialty that Hamilton wanted to address was the creation of a child-oriented "Adventure Woods" and adjacent to the new and relocated visitors center near a revamped and refilled Corning Lake. Plans call for a "play area" that will help kids learn about plants without them even knowing they are being educated. I love this number and wish I could win the lottery to pay for it.

Another really neat idea being tossed around is what Holden is calling its "Canopy Walk." Here, a trail, bridge or other such structure will allow visitors to literally walk amongst the tree tops. How cool is that?

All of which, by the way, will be encapsulated within a deer exclosure with cattle grates on the Sperry Road access points. This way visitors to the Arboretum won't see deer-damaged plantings, keeping these pesky critters at bay.

This entire project is going to cost millions, of course. And it won't all be done overnight. We're looking at something that could a decade or maybe even a generation before all is said and done.

But the concept is do-able. And with stronger investments and more grants coming in Holden Arboretum believes it will have the financial resources in the years ahead to "get 'er done."

As a card-carrying member of the Holden Arboretum I am proud to be (even in one very small way) a part of this plan. Hopefully more people will believe the same and also become members.

The Holden Arboretum is one of Northeast Ohio's premier resources.

- Jeffrey L. Frischkorn


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