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The High Plains Arboretum

Cheyenne, Wyoming is home to one of our region’s greatest horticultural treasures: the former USDA Horticultural Field Station now known as the USDA High Plains Grasslands Research Station. The station opened in 1929 with a mission to find fruit and vegetable crops adaptable to our local climatic conditions. USDA plant explorers traveled the colder regions of the globe searching for edibles that would be adaptable to the harsh conditions of the high plains, and they sent plants back to the station for evaluation. Along the way, a collection of ornamental woody plants was assembled as well.

Trees originating in Chinese Buddhist temples and Himalayan mountainsides are not uncommon in the collection, while other plants, such as the Arnold, the Morton and Kew were obtained from arboretums and botanic gardens. Still others were purchased from private sources like Frank Skinner's, Dropmore Nursery in Manitoba, Weston Nursery in Massachusetts and Wayside Garden, then of Mentor, Ohio.

In 1974, the mission of the station shifted to grasslands research and reclamation. Even though the research and funding for woody plants was discontinued, over 200 species of hardy trees and shrubs have survived on natural precipitation and with minimal care for over 30 years. There is now a new organization, headed by the Cheyenne Botanic Gardens and the City of Cheyenne Urban Forestry Department, whose goal it is to maintain and improve the site, and develop it into the High Plains Arboretum.

The High Plains Arboretum
The High Plains Arboretum

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