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May 2015 • Online Edition

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DU’s Chester M. Alter Arboretum Frames Beautiful Completion Of Campus Vision | Print |  E-mail

by Eileen Abbattista

Have you steered clear of walking on the DU campus in recent years? You can hardly be blamed. Since 1999, a revisioning of the entire campus green space, coupled with numerous ambitious building projects have often rendered passage difficult. But now is definitely time to reconsider your route, as the University of Denver Chester M. Alter Arboretum is undertaking revitalizing changes, contributing to the environs in a truly thoughtful and lovely way: it is absolutely not to be missed.

In fact, free one-hour Arboretum Highlight Tours are starting up this summer, both on Fridays at 1p.m.: July 26 & Aug. 30. As the succinct Tree Walk brochure (du.edu/arboretum), reveals: “The University of Denver’s Chester M. Alter Arboretum was created in 1999 under the leadership of then-Chancellor Daniel L. Ritchie to honor the legacy of the institution’s 12th chancellor.

“Today, the arboretum testifies to Alter’s role in laying the foundation for the campus to come. Serving as chancellor from 1953-67, Alter spearheaded a building boom and helped the campus grow from 75 to 125 acres.

“The arboretum is home to about 2,150 trees representing more than 240 species and varieties, as well as dozens of shrub species that provide the landscape with year-round interest. In addition to some historically significant mature trees, the arboretum includes seven state champions, the largest specimens of a particular species growing in Colorado. University Park, the neighborhood to the east of campus, is home to several more state champions.

“The arboretum aims to delight and instruct. It also aims to establish a regional identity for the campus based on collections of trees, shrubs and woody groundcovers that enhance the University’s aesthetic, educational and scientific goals. In time, the arboretum’s collection will include all native Colorado species capable of flourishing on the Front Range, as well as ecologically adapted specimens from around the world.”

As arboretum curator Francesca Aguirre-Wong told The Profile, “Eighty-two new metal plaques have been installed (so far) identifying notable trees on campus. Some plaques carry QR codes to provide visitors with access to more extensive information on our champion trees.”   Self-guided tours are always an option, with a kiosk and detailed map on the southwest corner of the Mary Reed Building (easily found at the end of the circle drive off University Blvd.) – and if you go by, please send kind regards to my favorite massive English Oak, just south of the kiosk!

At least one day’s advance notice is needed for tour reservations: call 303-871-4350 or email This e-mail address is being protected from spam bots, you need JavaScript enabled to view it Tours for groups or individuals can also be arranged.

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