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Wakefield Estate to unveil ‘new’ arboretum

The Wakefield Estate’s “Dogwood Days” runs through June 16.handout

The Wakefield Estate is unveiling its “new” arboretum during its weeklong “Dogwood Days” celebration, showing off its newly tagged and rehabilitated tree collection.

The collection includes more than 300 kousa dogwoods, including cultivars of the Asian dogwood developed by Polly Wakefield, who died at age 90 in 2004 leaving behind her 23-acre estate.

The Wakefield Charitable Trust owns the property and, per Wakefield’s wishes, uses it to promote learning, according to executive director Mark Smith.

As part of that mission, students and faculty from Connecticut College took tissue samples from dogwoods on the estate in February and are attempting to use DNA analysis to identify which trees are the direct descendants of Wakefield’s seven patented ones, Smith said.


“With this knowledge, the Wakefield Estate will be able to propagate these unique trees -- known for their beautiful blossoms and green leaves and climate adaptability -- for wider cultivation,” he said.

Smith said the trust also has hired a landscape director and focused on making the estate, located at 1465 Brush Hill Road, more of a formal arboretum.

“Dogwood Days” run through June 16, with guided tours daily at 1 p.m., and a fund-raising garden party on June 17. The full schedule of events is available at www.wakefieldtrust.org.

Johanna Seltz can be reached at seltzjohanna@gmail.com.