AURORA -- The city's tree arboretum on Townline Road is under construction -- ahead of schedule and below budget -- with a spring 2017 anticipated opening, according to city arborist Ben Askren.
The miniature arboretum will consist of an estimated 380 species of trees to be planted on both sides of a 0.75--mile path situated on 7 acres at the north end of the Hartman farm.
Since October 2016, the parks and recreation department staff has been working on the path and sites where trees will be planted.
Road grindings are being laid and landscape materials from the closed Geauga Lake and Wildwater Kingdom parks have been gathered and will be installed after the path is completed.
The goal of this project is to have the trees planted in sequence based on when they appeared on earth -- by family -- using fossil records for the pine trees (Gymnosperms) and Angiosperm Phylogeny Group IV system (APG IV), a molecular based system of plant taxonomy, for the flowering trees.
Native trees species, as well as trees from all over the world, are being sought and planted for this one of kind collection of trees, shrubs and lianas.
The most primitive family in the arboretum will be Ginkgoaceae, which are represented by ginkgo biloba.
There will be five of what are called "living fossils" including ginkgo, which are trees that have leaves and or fruits exactly the same as their ancestors from millions of years ago.
These living fossil trees are Monkey Puzzle, Araucaria araucana, Wollemia pine, Wollemia noblis, Queensland Kauri pine, Agathis robusta and dawn redwood (Metasequoia glyotostrboides).
The earliest examples of broad leaf trees are Henry Anisa, Illicium henri and members of the magnolia family.
Eventually, there will be signage detailing each family's traits, how many species are represented around the world, habitat and landscape value and other pertinent information.
All trees will be inventoried, using GIS/GPS technology, so that in the near future an application for cell phones and tablets can be downloaded, and information on each tree can be read or listened to by standing in front of the tree and aiming the phone at it.
A $ 50,000 cultural grant awarded to the city by the state of Ohio is being used, along with matching city funds to pay for the trees and associated landscaping.
Askren has been researching the plant families and has reached out to scientists from prominent universities and arboretums across the United States for expertise and input.
For more information about the tree arboretum, call Askren at 330-760-3971.