We would venture to guess, almost everyone knows that Darien Center is home to Darien Lake Amusement Park, the Coaster Capital of New York State. As visitors drive over the hill on Route 77, coasters slowly begin to appear and your adrenaline begins to rush. We would also venture to guess that many may not realize that Darien has more to offer than just Darien Lake Amusement Park. It’s also home to the cutest shopping experience, Country Cottage. Darien Lakes State Park is another gem of Darien that includes hills, woodlands, ravines, streams, and a lake. The oasis of Darien Lakes State Park is only the beginning of the natural beauty that Darien Center has to offer. We are going to explore the amazing scene of Draves Arboretum, located on Sharrick Road in Darien Center, and explain why this collection of trees is so special and definitely worth a visit!
What is an arboretum?
An Arboretum is essentially a large collection of wooded plants, like trees and shrubs.
Draves Arboretum started off as a cornfield and slowly expanded into 30 acres of over 800 species of trees and shrubs that are both breathtaking and unique. Tom Draves (owner and arboreta) jokingly says the expansion of his collection is a result of “tree hoarding.” With their incredible collection, Draves sought international accreditation with a mission to collect, maintain and display a diverse pallet of native and introduced woody plants.
Getting accredited is no easy task, and it’s been a project that is 35 years in the making - which is young by arborists’ standards. As a 3rd generation landscaper and arborist, Tom has truly turned his passion and hobby into a beautiful collection that is making an impact in the green industry. With only 3 people maintaining the 30 acre property, the quality of the grounds is impressive and speaks volumes for Tom’s passion. Draves Arborteum includes indigenous species of trees and shrubs, some that are unusual, and several that are truly remarkable for our area. Experience a true oasis and breathe in the fresh air as you view trees and shrubs from all over the world, some as far as Japan and Korea. Whether the trees you see are local or introduced, you’ll find yourself marveling at their beauty and your new-found appreciation.
How does the arboretum receive funding?
Believe it or not, Tom has patented a new species of Honey Locust that has received awards in Europe and the U.S. We’re not sure about you, but we would dare say that Tom’s passion has made him an industry pioneer. This new species of Honey Locust help to fund his incredible and ever-growing collection.
Other than being a giant collection of trees, the function of Draves Arboretum is to educate the public on the plants benefits, proper identification, how- tos for planting and uses in landscaping. They also have a duty to act as a source for propagators, nurserymen, and other plant enthusiasts to obtain seeds and scions (young shoot or twig of a plant) for propagation and to assist other arboreta and propagators in trailing potential new cultivars or species. While they are a destination for those looking to study trees and shrubs, they have also played host to several weddings, corporate events, private tours and more, in their newly constructed common building in the center of it all!
You can call Draves Arboretum at 585-547-9442 to plan your visit and private tour any time of year, but what better time than now? As the leaves are changing around us, we’re all anxious for the colors of fall! Immerse yourself in nature and don’t forget your camera! Enjoy the cool air, the refreshing aroma of the outdoors, and the beautiful things planted at Draves Aboretum. Be sure to say, "hello" to Draves sweet pet pig Rosie during your visit!