Photo taken by Margaret Lapp

In March 2023, Buffalo Olmsted Parks Conservancy (BOPC) and the South Park Arboretum were awarded a Level 1 Accreditation by The ArbNet Arboretum Accreditation Program, which recognizes the high standards of professional practices deemed important for arboreta and botanic gardens. ArbNet is the only global initiative to officially recognize arboreta at various levels of development, capacity and professionalism.   

“Earning the distinction as a Level I ArbNet accredited Arboretum will further strengthen our national and global ties to the arboreta and botanical garden communities, aiding in our ever-increasing pursuit of knowledge surrounding the power of connecting people and plants,” said Arboretum Director and Curator Margaret Lapp. Today, South Park upholds its standing as a prominent cultural landscape, over a century after it first opened to the public in 1899, as it is both a work of art and a living museum of trees. The original purpose is alive today and aligns with Olmsted’s vision—to design a space that provided an escape from the city and its industry; this was paramount to Olmsted’s intent for urban parks like South Park. South Park Arboretum is one of a small category of arboreta and associated gardens the Olmsted firm designed which included approximately 20 projects. Of those, about 15 projects produced design plans–South Park Arboretum is one of these, according to the National Park Service. 

BOPC joins several other Olmsted Network partners— including Trinity College in Hartford, CT, and Yerkes Observatory in Williams Bay, WI— which have recently received ArbNet accreditation for their landscapes.   

The South Park Arboretum is also an accredited arboretum in the Morton Register of Arboreta, a database of the world’s arboreta and gardens dedicated to woody plants.   

The desire to enhance the arboretum has been an ongoing project for BOPC. In 2016, the organization initiated a South Park Arboretum Restoration Project Feasibility Study, developed by Kyle Zick Landscape Architects. Phase one of the restoration was completed in 2022 with the successful pruning of over 500 trees, the removal of 200 dead trees and the removal of approximately 50 stumps which improved the overall safety of the park. Arbor Day 2023 kicked off Phase II efforts which includes the development of a Nursery Complex as the signature project.  

Hoerr Schaudt is producing the conceptual design work for the proposed South Park Arboretum Nursery Complex, contributing toward BOPC’s vision of restoring the South Park Arboretum while creating a new community gateway on the Ridge Road corridor.  

The South Park Arboretum Nursery Complex will welcome the public into the Arboretum and will include a tree and woody shrub container nursery, equipment storage, educational spaces, and offices for the Curator, operations staff, and future team members. The development of the Complex is part of the second phase of a comprehensive, long-term 11-phased project. The overall project will see the historic Arboretum restored to its world-class glory with a design inspired by the original plans of Frederick Law Olmsted.  

“Together with the Hoerr Schaudt conceptual design team, BOPC strives to uphold the historical vision and design principles of Frederick Law Olmsted in the creation of a Nursery Complex. Celebrating the diversity of our neighbors and the biodiversity of our newly proposed container nursery, South Park Arboretum will continue to be cherished for the public health and community asset that it affords all,” said Arboretum Director and Curator Margaret Lapp.