Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Unexpected Visitor at Arnold Arboretum

Every year I look forward to finding something brand new at the Arnold Arboretum in Jamaica Plain. As one of the school program guides there, I am attuned to changes in the landscape, and hear many questions about them from children that visit. Questions like what's inside that flower, who does that feather belong to, how old is that tree, and even where did all the salamanders go are all fairly straightforward for me to answer. After all, as program guides, we connect all these random elements of the ecosystem and place them in a food web for the children. But what happens when something exceptionally random falls out of a tree as you are teaching about that web? Guides on Hemlock Hill yesterday were faced with that puzzle as this unexpected omnivore appeared during a lesson about the ecosystem, then scurried back up into the trees overhead. Virginia Opposums like this one are omnivores, but mainly live on carrion. There is still speculation about how this particular marsupial could subsist in the park. Whatever the case, everyone who observed it yesterday will be likely to keep their eyes peeled for new sights and sounds in the landscape for months to come.


  1. Your job sounds like a lot of fun, even though I would be lost trying to answer all those questions. Love the pic of the little fuzzy creature!

  2. Hey Kate :) Yeah, thanks to Nancy, the programs coordinator for that photo. I wasn't there when the opposum showed up, but I hope it sticks around!


If there's one thing better than visiting gardens, it's talking about them. . .thanks for joining the conversation!