There have been big changes happening at Planting Fields Arboretum State Historic Park. Planting Fields Foundation has been working to restore the original Olmsted Brothers-designed landscape of our main drive, including bringing back a double allée of trees and returning the drive to a uniform width. This comes after many of Planting Fields’ trees were sick and declining.

Planting plans for the main entry drive at Planting Fields, dated July 24, 1918. Courtesy of the United States Department of the Interior, National Park Service, Frederick Law Olmsted National Historic Site.

In 2019, with the assistance of the preeminent firm in landscape preservation and stewardship, Heritage Landscapes, we completed a Cultural Landscape Report to guide our understanding of our Olmsted Brothers designed landscape. A Cultural Landscape Report, also referred to as a CLR, is an extensive foundational document that provides a comprehensive look at the cultural landscape origins, evolution and use. The CLR has been a guiding force in our plans to restore and update the landscape at Planting Fields, including this project focusing on the main entry drive. 

An aerial photo of the double Beech tree allee, c.1935, courtesy of Planting Fields Archives.

One signature Olmsted design included at Planting Fields was the allée, a path or road bordered by evenly spaced trees. While the original allée was made with beech trees, the new allée consists of 110 oak trees— half are Quercus alba (white oak) and the other half Quercus muehlenbergii (chinkapin oak). A giant of the plant kingdom, oak trees benefit our environment in many ways. They are champions of carbon sequestration, meaning that they store carbon dioxide and prevent it from entering Earth’s atmosphere. Oak trees also host an incredible range of biodiversity. No other tree supports as much life as oaks do, which can be as many as 4,000 different species of insects and animals. From the shade they offer with their leaves to the soil stabilization they provide with their roots, the addition of these mighty oaks to the Planting Fields landscape will benefit the site for centuries to come. 

Other integral aspects of this project include the addition of ADA accessible visitor pathways that connect the main parking lot with key areas, a new visitor pavilion, and updated site-wide wayfinding signage. These changes will help all our visitors navigate the site more easily. The simulated image below shows a time-progressed view of the oak trees, as well as the accessible pathways currently being constructed. Frederick Law Olmsted believed that parks should be for all people, and these additions to the Planting Fields landscape make this historic site more accessible to a wider range of people.  

With the Heather Garden restoration completed in 2022, and now the main entry drive project nearly finished, Planting Fields Foundation has been working hard to honor the Olmsted firm’s legacy. We look forward to continuing these efforts and hope to see you at Planting Fields soon.  

Image courtesy of Heritage Landscapes, LLC.

For more information about the ongoing restoration projects, please contact 

You can sponsor one or more of our oak trees for yourself or a loved one. Visit our website for more information: Sponsor a Tree at Planting Fields – Planting Fields Foundation.

Emily Leger serves as the Collections and Exhibitions Manager for Planting Fields Foundation.