Above, Indra Weickert, niece of Arboretum creator, Frances Lamberts has been able to play a part in the garden’s transformation since the first tree planting. She was back recently to help ensure the arboretum’s survival by designing a hands-on manual to aid volunteers in the new Adopt-A-Plot program, including the map at left indicating the numbered sites.

By LISA WHALEY

Publisher

lwhaley@heraldandtribune.com

For nearly two decades, Ardinna Woods has been something of a family affair, with local gardener Frances Lamberts faithfully tending its myriad of plants and trees — and niece Indra Weickert  flying in from Germany periodically to work with her aunt, as well as helping to create the descriptive brochures that would share its story.

Last month, Weickert was back in Jonesborough for a different Ardinna task; she was here to finish up an important Adopt-A-Plot garden catalog that could allow her hardworking aunt to step back from a project she had nurtured from its very beginning.

In short, Ardinna Woods’ family is getting ready to get a lot bigger.

“Frances Lamberts has created an absolutely beautiful area,” Jonesborough Town Adminstrator Bob Browning said Monday. “She has been a one-woman ball of fire.”

Arboretum plants are native to the area and are carefully flagged for identification.

But it has also been a tremendous amount of work, he said, and Browning is hoping the new Adopt-A-Plot will allow individuals, groups, families or even clubs to take over the responsibility of one small patch of Jonesborough’s famed Ardinna Woods.

It is, according to Browning, an exciting opportunity. “Ardinna Woods in now a level II arboretum,” he said. “And Frances’ work has been written up at least a couple of times in the Tennessee Conservation Magazine”

For those who are still hesitant to step up and adopt, Weickert’s packet of information may turn out to be the deciding factor.

Complete with a colorful, accurate map, plant listings, plant care and photos, the packet should take much of the guesswork out of volunteering. 

“With such a map, with the information, anyone who adopts an who has any kind of love of plants, will  find an easy way to (keep up the garden),” Lamberts said.

The catalog is also something of a tribute to Weichert’s longtime dedication to her aunt and the project. She remembers planting the first 10 trees in the space outside the wastewater treatment building that was at that time a town eyesore.

“I was 20,” Weickert said with a smile. “I didn’t know what it would end up. But I liked going to a place and planting some trees. I thought that was great.”

According to Lamberts, it was Weickert who later insisted the trees should be numbered for identification in the first brochure she designed.

“You can go through walk the walkways and read about the trees and plants,” Weickert explained.

And, when she learned her aunt was painstakingly trying to get the plant list together for the proposed Adopt-A-Plant program, she knew she could help.

“Frances had already gotten all the information,” Weickert recalled. “We talked about how we need to catalog it, (including) how to take care of the plants and photos.”

“I said, ‘This can be done. I know how to do it in an Excel Spreadsheet.’ ” That way, if you need it you can add some columns to a specifici plant. The date it was planted. The date it was removed.”

While there are still things being added to the informational Adopt-A-Plot packet that will make the task even easier, like additional photos and other plant details, Browning said the program is ready to start taking on volunteers and Town Hall is eagerly awaiting the calls.

As for the aunt and niece duo, Lamberts is reassured that the woods future is being secured – and Weickert is just happy to have been a part of the project.

“I don’t know anything about plants,” Weickert admitted as prepared to returned to her hometown in Germany at the end of her stay. “But I love going into the garden and working with people.”

It is also apparent that she loves and admires her aunt.