Mid-Winter Edition

Yellowstone Arboretum


As we begin a new year of possibilities our editorial staff (one person) has forged ahead with a new look. In keeping in line with other arboretums around the country we have decided to publish on a quarterly basis and concentrate on features and useful articles to enhance your tree experience. We hope you enjoy this experience and welcome any comments and/or questions.



We are pleased to announce that the arboretum is a recipient of a MUCFA grant for the construction of a new information kiosk. This kiosk will serve as an introduction to the arboretum for visitors anxious to learn about the purpose of arboretums and their importance in the growth of urban forestry. Two-sided, the information boards will serve as an education source for visitors. Our goal for 2021 is education, infrastructure and nurturing of trees within the community.

"What is an Arboretum"

Artist's Rendition

Editor's Note: More information and plans will be forthcoming in future newsletter editions.

"Winter Water Works"

" Watering Still Goes On" "

Editor's note: Even though deciduous trees go into dormancy during the cold months, conifers continue to grow. With open winters and lack of precipitation it is the arboretum's policy to continue to water those trees for growth and spring vigor. This applies especially to young and recently plated trees. Below is great information for keeping trees healthy with good watering schedule.

Winter Tree Watering Tips

By Arbor Day Foundation | January 7, 2019


Guest post by John Lang of Friendly Tree.

Although trees remain dormant during the winter, they are not immune to cold and dry conditions. Trees experience the stress of harsh winter weather – though they might not show it – and it’s usually a lack of water that does the most damage. Heading into the winter with dry roots can mean major trouble for trees in the spring.

Though it may be gray and wintry outside, your trees still need you. Long, dry periods without supplemental water can damage root systems and kill your trees. Although they may look normal in the spring, trees that have been weakened over the winter will usually die back later in the summer.

Follow these tips to help the trees on your property survive the winter and remain healthy all year long.

Watering During the Winter

Keep watering trees on a regular schedule through the fall and until the ground begins to freeze (usually late October or November). Once the ground freezes, continue to monitor weather conditions throughout the winter months.


When to Water

Water acts like an insulator, both to a tree and the soil. Soil that stays moist will be warmer; likewise plant cells that are plump with water will be less susceptible to damage from the cold.

Trees which are dormant don’t need to be watered as frequently as during the growing season. When there is little to no snow cover and little precipitation, plan on watering your trees one to two times per month until they begin leafing out in the spring. If the site is particularly windy, your trees may need more water. Once the ground thaws in the spring, you can resume your regular watering schedule.

Watch: Ask an Arborist: How do I Know if my Trees Need Water?

Water only when the temperature is above 40 degrees F and there is no snow or ice on the ground near your trees. Water early in the day, so the plants have time to absorb it before the temperature drops at night.

Trees like their water slow and deep. Newly planted trees will require more frequent watering. You can check soil moisture by using a garden trowel and inserting it into the ground to a depth of 2″, and then move the blade of the trowel back and forth to create a small narrow trench. Then use your finger to touch the soil. If it is moist to the touch, then they do not need water.

Be careful to apply water all the way out to the edge of the tree’s root spread. Most established trees have a root spread equal to their height. Water deeply with a soaker hose, if possible, and avoid spraying on foliage if watering an evergreen tree.



Mulch is one of the best things you can do for your trees heading into the winter. Adding a layer of organic mulch in the fall protects the soil from moisture loss and helps regulate soil temperature throughout the winter.

Planting sites which are more exposed to freezing and thawing are prone to cracks in the soil, which can dry out a tree’s roots. Mulch acts as a blanket and can prevent this kind of damage.

Watering Young Trees

Young or newly planted trees are much more susceptible to drought injury during the winter months. Make sure they are well watered through the summer and fall up until the ground freezes, and water every couple of weeks during the winter when there is no snow cover.


Evergreen trees lose water through their needles in the dry winter air, so they need more stored-up water going into the winter season to make up for it. Cold, dry winds can actually strip water from Evergreens faster than their roots can absorb it. That’s why it’s especially important to provide a sufficient water supply in the fall, and water during dry spells during the winter.

While it may seem counterintuitive to get out the hose when everything around you is brown and gray, it’s critical to keep your trees alive and healthy. Don’t ignore your trees this winter. Keep watering them and see how they thank you with a beautiful show in the spring.

"Arboretum Travel Escape"

Here's a great way to get away during those cold days. Take a trip to some of the best arboretums in the world. We kick off this season with a trip to the Royal Botanic Gardens at Kew, England. 

Editor's note: Having visited Kew I can attest to the beauty of landscape treasures of this wonderful arboretum and gardens. The research of this organization is by far some of the best in the world. (60).jpg

A journey inside this unique collection is a chance to experience the beauty and diversity of forests around the globe. 

Stretching across two-thirds of the Gardens, the Arboretum surrounds our glasshouses in a leafy enclave for you to walk, wander and discover.  

The 14,000 trees rooted here represent more than 2,000 species, including rare and ancient varieties. This great collection contains trees as old as the Gardens themselves, many that cannot be found anywhere else in Britain.  

Meaning ‘a place with trees’ in Latin, the Arboretum is not only a striking landscape but a scientific treasure trove, vital to our botanical and conservation research.

Every tree planted here is a source of knowledge, helping us conserve the habitats of beloved native trees and protect some of the world’s most fascinating species at risk from deforestation.  

Treasured trees 

  • Heritage trees: Some of our oldest trees date back to the 18th century and include the Japanese pagoda tree (Styphnolobium japonicum), the Lucombe oak (Quercus x hispanica 'Lucombeana'), and the black locust tree (Robinia pseudoacacia). 

  • Giant redwoods: Our tallest tree lives in the atmospheric Redwood Grove. A Sequoia sempervirens (a coastal Redwood), it stands at 40 metres tall – the height of a 13-storey building.  

  • Mighty oaks: The fastest growing tree in the Gardens is the chestnut-leaved oak, Quercus castaneifolia measuring over 30m tall and 30m wide. Part of the rich oak family at Kew, it is joined by one of our most curious specimens – the weeping beech Fagus sylvatica ‘Pendula.’ With its many limbs and trunks, this mighty oak is a sight you don’t want to miss.  


"The mission of the Yellowstone Arboretum is to cultivate arboreta appreciation and understanding of our local heritage through public education, organic preservation and stewardship of our natural environment."



As the cold and snowy weather has finally decended on the grounds all work has been put on hold. But not before this past late fall and early winter when volunteers made  huge improvements with pruning and trimming operations. These new looks can be found in the Homestead (east side of barn) along the Bird's of Prey pathway, Lynx Exhibit, upper Tiger Viewing areas and the north, east and south hills surrounding the Sensory Garden. A round of applause to Nancy W. for spear-heading this operation and thanks to Karen T, Lynne E. and Linda S. for their volunteer actions. Their efforts are what makes the grounds a special place for visitors.


Decorated pots along the pathway system !

As a result of the completion of previously announced projects we have discontinued the "Worker Guy" reporting app found on the front page of the arboretum website. Look for new projects later in the spring.


Due to the inclement weather we have decided to temporarily suspend the weekly climatological readings for this winter or until better conditions present themselves. We will continue to monitor the National Weather Service readings and incorporate that data into microclimate reports.

"Tree of the Season"

Subalpine fir

Subalpine fir





Abies lasiocarpa, the subalpine fir or Rocky Mountain fir, is a western North American fir tree

Scientific name: Abies lasiocarpa

Higher classification: Fir

Conservation status: Least Concern (Population stable) Encyclopedia of Life

Rank: Species

Height: 20 to 35 metres tall

Editor's note: Two new specimens of Abies lasiocarpa were planted in 2020. One can be found in the MNLA Garden just west of Dotties. The second can be found witihn the small conifers garden located between Bear and Owl exhibits.

Did You Know ?

Have you checked out the Yellowstone Arboretum Facebook page ?

Our page shares tree articles and videos of interest to arboreta enthusiasts as well as updated info from the arboretum.

CLICK HERE to find out more

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