The only thing constant is change, so they tell us. This is very true of the Nannen Arboretum. The S. Arthur Lowe family donated The Lowe Herb Garden, designed and developed by Carolyn G. Lowe, in memory of descendants who have resided in Cattaraugus County for six generations, dating from 1817. The Lowe Herb Garden was dedicated in 1984 and today is in a state of transition. The preface from the original self-guide tour book reads:

“The Lowe Herb Garden at Nannen Arboretum was dedicated in 1984 to those friends who appreciate the wisdom of past generations in preserving and propagating all plants useful to man. This addition to the Nannen Arboretum was designed using only native materials fitting it into the surrounding environment.

 The particular site was chosen because of the spring above bringing water to form the small pond below. Here water and bog plants could flourish as well.

 There are twelve various sized specialty gardens with over two hundred plants, trees and shrubs in the 88’ x 65’ area. These include: American Indian, Beverage, Biblical, Children’s Zoo, Culinary, Dye, Early American, Fragrant, Industrial, Medicinal-Dioscorides, Oriental and Silver & Gold.

 As one enters up the tie and gravel steps, lined with daylilies and bird’s nest spruce, one sees the center mill-stone or focal point. The mill-stone is placed at an angle in order to observe how nature has formed two kinds of stone into one. Germander or teucrium is planted to enhance the millstone and the plaque which states the quotation from Genesis 1:29 in the Bible.‘And God said, Behold, I have given you every herb bearing seed, which is upon the face of all the earth…’

 Continuing on the path straight ahead one in confronted by a rock wall and two steps up. The rocks were brought from near-by farms. On the wall covered by a variety of thymes one is invited to touch and enjoy the fragrance. Peeking out from under the rocks are small succulents to add interest and color.

 Beyond the wall is the American Indian Garden complete with a small waterfall and wet garden. This area contains native plants and trees of N. America.

 At this point, looking to the far right, are ferns and moss growing under an old apple tree along the other shade loving wild plants.”

Much has changed since the Lowe Herb Garden was dedicated in 1984. The original site was full sun and now is partially shaded; the flowing water became a source of flooding; some plants did not thrive well, some thrived too well.

The Arboretum Committee is currently reviewing the trees around and in the herb garden to determine what pruning or removal is required. A grant was obtained in 2005 to improve the drainage around the herb garden resulting in the elimination of the waterfall and pond. A small group of volunteers is currently cataloging the existing plants and the existing environment in an effort to develop a plan for a revived herb garden requiring less maintenance while maintaining the historical integrity of the garden as originally designed by Carolyn Lowe. Watch for updates on this effort in subsequent issues of the Eville Events.

The Nannen Arboretum is located at 28 Parkside Drive across from the Ellicottville Fire Department. The site is open to the public 365 days a year from dawn to dusk. Admission is free; donations are gratefully accepted. The main entrance is located at the far end of the Extension center parking lot. Visit the Nannen Arboretum online at where you’ll find directions to the site, a virtual tour link, program announcements and more.