SLINGERLANDS – The Pine Hollow Arboretum has reached another milestone in the world of arboreta.
The Slingerlands arboretum was upgraded to a Level II accreditation by the ArbNet Arboretum Accreditation Program and the Morton Arboretum. This new status recognizes its arboretum for achieving certain standards and practices that were deemed important in the world of arboreta and botanical gardens.
The organization’s recognition in the Morton Register of Arboreta will allow it to be in a database featured among other world arboreta and gardens dedicated to woody plants.
The level of recognition was exciting to Executive Director Gabrielle Sant’Angelo and the rest of the Pine Hollow crew.
“It is exciting. There’s a lot of Level I arboreta out there, but there’s not that many Level II,” Sant’Angelo said. “Overall, there’s 300 accredited arboretums in the country, half of them are Level I. But as you get higher up (there’s four levels),there’s less and less. So yeah, we’re pretty excited about it.”
According to Sant’Angelo, the arboretum reached its Level I status in 2015. In order to obtain its accreditation (Level II), PHA created an enhanced database on of the arboretum’s entire collection. It contains information on their native and non-native plants and their handling, what PHA is bringing to their facility to plant, and what they’re taking out.
Horticulturist Sandy Broussard spent time sifting through old invoices that founder John W. Abbuhl had filed away. The invoices had notes written on them about the trees or plants that were planted and which ones were planted near each other within the arboretum.
In the future, Sant’Angelo would like to place the database into a GPS format. Visitors in the future would be able to go on PHA’s website to look at the map of everything featured at the arboretum and pick out where the trees are located to study them.
Stephanie Abbuhl, board member and daughter of the founder also shared a statement about the accreditation.
“Pine Hollow Arboretum is thrilled to have achieved Level II Arboretum accreditation, a measure of the dedication of the ‘village’ that supports this local non-profit gem of 23 acres in Slingerlands,” she said. “This recognition is the result of the outstanding leadership of the executive director, Gabrielle Sant’Angelo, along with Sandy Broussard, horticulturist, and the many volunteers, donors, and board members who work to plant, weed, mulch, prune, clear trails, support with donations, and find joy in the beauty of nature and the wisdom of trees.”
About John W. Abbuhl
John W. Abbuhl originally had ties to Rensselaer County prior to living in Slingerlands and forming PHA. Born in Troy June 27, 1926, he moved to Cropseyville with his parents at the age of 4. Abbuhl graduated from The Albany Academy in 1943 and later served in the Navy, attended Albany Medical College, settled in Albany and later, Slingerlands with his family, and began a career in pediatrics spanning more than 50 years.
In 1966, Abbuhl moved his family from their original residence on New Scotland Avenue in Albany to Pine Hollow Road in Slingerlands and began planting trees at their new home. He began picking up various trees and woody specimens from all over the world, and over the years, acquired additional adjacent property and built 11 ponds on 22 acres of land.
Over the course of Abbuhl’s life, more than 3,000 different species of trees and plants were planted in what became Pine Hollow Arboretum The organization became incorporated as a nonprofit in 2007. Upon his passing on January 6, 2018, at the age of 91, the arboretum was left to the community and open to the public.
About Pine Hollow Arboretum
The arboretum is open year-round, 365 days a year, dawn until dusk. It continues to thrive as a formal collection of specimen trees and woody plants to be enjoyed by residents and visitors. Sant’Angelo encourages patrons to check the premises out for hiking, dog walking, snowshoeing or cross-country skiing.
Coming soon to PHA will be Autumn at the Arboretum, held Saturday, Oct. 21. The event will feature pumpkin painting, wild birds of prey, tours of the arboretum, and fall foods including doughnuts.
Other fall based activities to be held at PHA also include Autumn yoga sessions sponsored by CDPHP, Spooky Lantern Walks, winter snowshoeing/cross-country skiing expos, and soon high school students will undergo training by staff to become docents in order to help lead elementary school students who visit the arboretum in the spring for educational field trips.
Future plans for Pine Hollow Arboretum
Arboretum staff would like to develop more trails that are handicapped accessible, continue to keep their educational programs going for all ages, and maintain their horticultural collection to a higher degree. The maintenance, however, would require additional staffing.
One day, the arboretum would like to turn John Abbuhl’s home, a 1941 mid-century style home designed by architect Henry L. Blatner, into a welcome center. At the moment, staff have been able to rent out the home for small private events and mission-related programs that help build up the funds to make necessary improvements to the home Sant’Angelo noted.
The transition of the home into a welcome center will be a big project for the arboretum and will take a great deal of fundraising, development and volunteer work.
Sant’Angelo said the Level II accreditation as was something Abbuhl really wanted to see that happen for the Pine Hollow Arboretum.
Residents and visitors can learn more about Pine Hollow Arboretum and its happenings on Instagram, Facebook, and on their website www.pinehollowarboretum.org.
This story appeared on page 2 of the September 6, 2023 print edition of the Spotlight