Robert Earl Bickelhaupt
The Bickelhaupt Arboretum
Today is the birthday of the cofounder of the Bickelhaupt Arboretum, Robert Earl Bickelhaupt.
Robert and his wife Frances created the Arboretum around their family home in Clinton, Iowa. During the 1960s and 1970s, Robert and Frances watched as Dutch Elm disease claimed the beautiful Elm-lined streets in Clinton. In response, Robert and Frances began planting a diverse range of trees on their property - which was 10 acres.
Now, Robert and Frances were exceptionally disciplined when it came to planting trees - they grouped all the trees by species. The Bickelhaupt Arboretum has a lovely collection of trees, including ash, beech, birch, crabapple, elm, hickory, honeylocust, linden, magnolia, and oak. They also have a gorgeous conifer collection, which is regarded as the crown jewel of the Arboretum, and it features many rare and dwarf conifers. In total, the BickelhauptArboretum boasts over 2,000 different species of plants.
And just this week, the Bickelhaupt Arboretum is writing a new chapter - they are cleaning up the damage from the derecho ("duh-RAY-cho"), the widespread and severe windstorm that blew through the midwest earlier this week (August 10, 2020).
As a result of the derecho, the Arboretum lost 28 trees, and many more were damaged in the hurricane-force winds. Now the first course of action is clean up, and then they will take down trees that need to be addressed immediately because they have been so compromised.
If you happen to go to the Bickelhaupt Arboretum, there is a poignant sculpture of Robert and Frances near the entrance. They are standing side by side as Frances places one foot on a shovel she is holding.
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