Notre Dame ReSource - Arbor Day a reminder of tranquility of trees


During the immediate aftershock of the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, many Americans sought psychological refuge from an unexpected sourcetrees. The number of visitors to botanical gardens and other such facilities nationwide grew significantly during that time, and some arboreta waived normal admission fees so that anyone who wanted could find peace in their autumnal groves.p. As Arbor Day (Friday, April 30) approaches, a cultural historian at the University of Notre Dame said the notion that trees bring tranquility is long-established and quite real.p. “The restorative quality of trees on the human psyche is clear,” says Thomas Schlereth, professor of American studies and author of the forthcoming book “Keepers of Trees: A History of North American Arboreta, 1700-2000.” “Historically, trees have always served this function, a contemplative landscape in times of national crisis. Ralph Waldo Emerson, for instance, wrote of the natural world evoking transformations of the psyche, with people emerging from a wood at peace with the world and with themselves.”p. Speaking at a recent national conference of the American Association of Botanical Gardens, Schlereth referred to the healing role of trees and nature during World War II, when people were encouraged to “cling to the steadfastness of gardens” andanything as durable and incorruptible as the soil and sunshine."p. Schlereth also points out that an increasing number of arboretum visitors are city-born and raised, so they view arboreta as relief landscapesrare places of serenity and security in the predominant hardship of urban life.p. Thomas Schlereth is a professor of American studies and concurrent professor of history at the University of Notre Dame. He is available for interviews at 574-631-6129 or at . p.

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