News From Terre Haute, Indiana

Local & Bistate

September 16, 2012

Arboretum to celebrate 20th anniversary

TERRE HAUTE — In 1990 Bill and Marilyn Clark had a vision of having a Holly Arboretum in Terre Haute. They wanted to share their love of hollies with the community. They poured out their passion of hollies to former Terre Haute Mayor Pete Chalos. Two years later, after discussion with many individuals, groups and organizations and obtaining letters and assurances of support, together they decided that Deming Park would make a great home for an arboretum.  In September 1992, the first hollies were planted.

The Clarks, along with a handful of dedicated volunteers, worked with the National Holly Society and the regional Great Rivers Chapter to create what is now known as the Clark-Landsbaum Deming Park Holly Arboretum. “The Terre Haute City Parks Department has been a constant and wonderful support to FOTA (Friends of the Arboretum),” Marilyn Clark said.

“We have grown from the six hollies we originally planted. We now have more than 400 different hollies, eleven species and 150 or more cultivars of holly. This arboretum has been recognized by the Holly Society of America as one of their official Arborteums,” FOTA Board Member Bob Artis said.

There are only 18 official Holly arboretums in the United States and 21 in the world. The Clark-Landsbaum Deming Park Holly Arboretum is the only one in a public park. All others are either connected with a university or a private organization. Therefore the arboretum is open whenever the park is and is free to all who wish to visit.

The Holly Arboretum has been a place of beauty and relaxation, a garden for study, education and a tourist destination. Holly lovers from all over the world and country have made a stop in Terre Haute to admire the beauty of the arboretum. Since the arboretum’s inception Bill Clark has passed away, but Marilyn’s fond memories of him keep her working to provide a greater space for people to enjoy.

“I’m proud and happy of the arboretum and thankful to all who have supported it and helped the garden develop into such a beautiful location for the city,” Clark said.

By Marilyn’s side has been many board members who have made great contributions to the growth and development of the Friends of the Arboretum. Helping guide, prepare materials, book plans has been Carla Artis, who also shares a love for Hollies.

“I love watching them grow. We remember from 10 to 15 years ago so many of these plants were just a few feet tall and now we have some that are 30 to 40 feet tall. It is sort of our way to help beautify the city,” Carla Artis said. FOTA has also planted more than 100 Hollies throughout the community, outside of Deming Park.

There’s a Type of Holly for Everyone

Come winter time, most trees will have shed their leaves. The magical thing about Hollies is, many of them stay green all year round. When the snow falls, their colorful berries dot a landscape, bringing about a cheerful look during cloudy, blustery days. Hollies come in all shapes and sizes. Many are suited for landscaping around buildings or houses.

By visiting the arboretum one can get a good feel on what type of Holly would best suit their property. Each tree in the arboretum is labeled with their name. Once you walk through you really start to see the difference between the shape of the leaves the overall shape and their growth pattern. It is a unique experience to see how many different Hollies are available. Marilyn notes, the shape, size and color of the berries also vary. Red, orange, yellow, white and black make each very special.

“I think it is one of Terre Haute’s hidden treasures. As you come into Deming Park and you see the sign welcoming people into the Clark-Landsbaum Arboretum, just take a minute, slow down, stop and see what we have worked very hard to put  together to help beautify the city of Terre Haute,” Carla Artis said.

A Holly celebration

If you have never visited the Arboretum, Sept. 23 may be the best time to do so. The Friends of the Arboretum  will be celebrating their 20th anniversary from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. During this time FOTA members will be providing tours. Refreshments and a video showing the progression of the arboretum will be played at a shelter across from the arboretum.

Opportunities to learn more

For more information about the arboretum, or to arrange for a group tour, contact Robert Artis at 812-235-2723 or email Additional information can also be found at

Those interested in learning more about Friends of the Arboretum can join the organization. There are no member fees. The group meets once a month on the third Monday of the month at 6:30 p.m. in the Torner Center at Deming Park. Each meeting has an education component about Hollies.

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