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Modeled on Harvard University’s Arnold Arboretum and begun in 1931, the Holden Arboretum was the gift of mining magnate Albert Holden, who sought to create a living memorial to his deceased wife and daughter. Opened to the public in 1937, the arboretum was established on 100 acres of land initially under the management of the Cleveland Museum of Natural History. A 556-acre parcel of the nearby Baldwin Farm was soon acquired, and the arboretum had expanded to 1,000 acres by 1956, thensevering ties with the museum. After continuing to grow in size, the arboretum was integrated, in 2014, with the Cleveland Botanical Garden, a separate 101-acre urban landscape, to form Holden Forests & Gardens.
This 3,500-acre ecological museum comprises a patchwork of old-growth forests, young post-agriculture forests, and wetlands combined with more than 200 acres of cultivated gardens. With its collection of more than 10,000 woody plants encompassing some 1,700 species, the arboretum represents much of Earth’s woody biodiversity. Shaped over the decades by architect C. Gordon Cooper, and landscape architects William A. Strong, Geoff Rausch, Donald Gray, and Melissa Marshall of MTR Landscape Architects, the site features several gardens reflecting discreet ecosystems, such as the Crabapple Collection, the Holden Butterfly Garden, and the Layer Rhododendron Garden. The site stretches from Pierson Creek in the west to Wisner Road in the east and is bisected by Sperry Road. A looped offshoot from Sperry Road leads to the Corning Visitor Center and a contiguous parking lot. Corning Lake occupies the southeastern swath of the site, while several smaller bodies of water are scattered throughout, including Foster Pond to the north, Blueberry and Buttonbush Bogs to the west, and Sherwin, Heath and Hourglass Ponds to the south. The vast woodlands are traversed by a network of trails, while the 500-foot-long Murch Canopy Walk is elevated 65 feet above the forest floor. The arboretum was designated an Important Bird Area by the National Audubon Society in 2004.