The Bickelhaupt Arboretum
April 28, 1916
Today is the birthday of the arboretum-maker Frances Bickelhaupt.
Frances is remembered for the arboretum that she and her husband Robert created around their family home in Clinton, Iowa.
During the 1960s and 1970s, Robert and Frances watched in dismay as Dutch Elm disease claimed the beautiful Elm-lined streets of their hometown.
In response, Frances and Robert began planting a diverse range of trees on their 10-acre property.
Now, Frances and Robert were exceptionally disciplined when it came to planting trees - they committed to grouping all the trees by species.
Today, the Bickelhaupt Arboretum has a lovely collection of trees - including ash, beech, birch, crabapple, elm, hickory, honeylocust, linden, magnolia, and oak. Bickelhaupt also has a gorgeous conifer collection, regarded as the Arboretum’s crown jewel, and features many rare and dwarf conifers. In total, the Bickelhaupt Arboretum boasts over 2,000 different species of plants.
In 2020, the Bickelhaupt Arboretum was damaged by the derecho ("duh-RAY-cho") - a widespread and severe windstorm that blew through the midwest on August 10, 2020.
As a result of the derecho, Bickelhaupt lost 28 trees, and many more were damaged in the hurricane-force winds. The first course of action is clean up following by tree removal - for the trees were so damaged they could not be saved.
Today, if you happen to visit the Bickelhaupt Arboretum, there is a poignant sculpture of Frances and Robert near the entrance. They are standing side by side, and Frances has one foot resting on the top of a shovel she holds against the earth.