Explore the Grounds

Special Habitats

Located throughout the Arboretum

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Several collections on The Morton Arboretum’s grounds are grouped together based on features other than geography or taxonomy. Plants in this special habitats collection are grouped by such traits as plant size, plant soil requirements, and horticultural traits. The Arboretum’s special habitats groups include:

If you are looking for trees or shrubs to improve the design of your garden, plan a visit to The Morton Arboretum’s Dwarf Woody Plant Collection.

Located just south of the Conifer Walk, this collection will inspire you with its many examples of smaller-sized or slow-growing plants that are well suited to a compact garden or landscape.

In only about one acre, the Dwarf Woody Plant Collection includes 127 kinds of low-growing trees, shrubs, evergreens, and woody perennials that retain their small stature throughout their lifetime. Many of the shrubs are spring- or summer-flowering.

Be sure to check out the Lavender Twist® redbud (Cercis canadensis ‘Covey), compact white fir (Abies concolor ‘Compacta), and Autumn Cascades black tupelo (Nyssa sylvatica ‘Autumn Cascades). The Dwarf Woody Plant Collection shows how you can add a small tree or several shrubs—or possibly even more—to make the most of whatever garden space you have.

Situated just south of the Maze Garden and Groundcover Garden, the Hedge Collection at The Morton Arboretum serves as a valuable resource for homeowners and green professionals seeking practical information on trees and shrubs that can be grown as hedges.

Initially planted in 1934, this collection is considered to be the oldest, continuous hedge display among public gardens in the United States. The collection is divided into two different sections: Sheared Hedges (west, lower terrace) and Unsheared Hedges (east, upper terrace). In the Sheared Hedge section, there are 30 different hedge examples that are typically sheared two to three times per season for a formal look. This group contains some interesting hedges, using such plants as Shawnee Brave bald-cypress (Taxodium distichum ‘Shawnee Brave) and Eastern white pine (Pinus strobus). In the Unsheared Hedge section are 28 different hedge examples that are lightly pruned one to two times per season, allowing the trees and shrubs to grow into an informal, low-maintenance hedge. Great plants, such as American hazelnut (Corylus americana) and meadowlark forsythia (Forsythia ‘Meadowlark) are used to demonstrate this type of hedge.

Godshalk Meadow, named after Clarence Godshalk, former director of The Morton Arboretum, is used mainly to evaluate new or underused plants.

Herbaceous perennials, ornamental grasses, shrub roses, evergreens, woody shrubs, ornamental trees, and shade trees are put to the test—evaluated on their hardiness, resistance to disease and insects, key attributes (flower color, fragrance, fall color, etc.), and size at maturity.

At The Morton Arboretum, we want to make sure that the plants we recommend will thrive in local landscapes and gardens. Godshalk Meadow, located just north of Parking Lot 33 along the DuPage River, is where the plants are put to the test.

Several noteworthy plants that are currently under observation are Sullivan Alaska-cedar (Chamaecyparis nootkatensis ‘Sullivan), Beijing Gold® Peking lilac (Syringa pekinensis ‘Zhang Zhiming), and Gold Bar silver grass (Miscanthus sinensis ‘Gold Bar’).


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