But did you know thousands of people drive by the oldest public arboretum in Michigan every day, not even knowing it exists?
Bennett Arboretum, part of Edward Hines Park, is located off Edward Hines Parkway, between Seven Mile Road and Reservoir Road in Wayne County. It was created by Jesse Merle Bennett in 1936.
A Wayne County forester who later became the county’s first Park Superintendent, Bennett wrote books about roadside planting in parks. His efforts led to the development of the arboretum, with plantings of close to 500 woody plants.
Originally planted with native Michigan woody plants as well non-native ornamental trees, Bennett used the arboretum as a testing site for non-native plants to see how they would survive in an urban roadside environment.
This weekend, I spent several hours exploring the arboretum in Northville Township. It’s a popular place for hikers, people who enjoy nature, and cross-country runners, who have no trouble with the rolling hills and valleys.
You’ll find native hardwood forests with maple, beach, and oak collections at the arboretum. There’s also a pine collection, wetlands with a boardwalk, ornamentals, prairie, and a southern floodplain.
I met a woman who lives close to the park and has been walking through the arboretum for years. She told me of the improvements she’s seen in recent years, including the removal of invasive plants from the arboretum.
Together we keyed out several of the oak trees, identifying the scarlet and bur oaks in the oak collection. And we located the tulip tree, chestnut oak, European hornbeam, and Cut Leaf European Beech.
If you decide to visit Bennett Arboretum, park across the street at the parking lot for Cass Benton. You’ll cross Edward Hines Parkway to enter the arboretum. Look for the arboretum trail signs or the welcome kiosk, adjacent to the wetlands boardwalk.
Have you visited the Bennett Arboretum?