As a new volunteer at Landis, I was persuaded to join the Communications Committee and write a book review. A novel assignment – something I hadn’t tackled since my college days – and the start of a near decade-long relationship with a truly remarkable man, Native Plant Trail Curator Ed Miller.
Ed’s Adventures of the Mind is a series of personal essays comprising a window to his then 85 years. This memoir introduced me to the engineer and the botanist, the global traveler, and the advocate for local green spaces. The charming but self-effacing Ed seemed to enjoy the glowing review and the opportunity to mentor yet another Landis volunteer about all things native and horticultural.
Whenever you ran into him at an Arboretum event, Ed was always eager to share his latest discovery in the wild or an idea for a newsletter article about a topic of ecological significance. His longevity belied but also enhanced his childlike wonder at the world around him. After I echoed his fondness for the American bladdernut along the trail, he saved a particularly fine specimen for me at our next plant sale.
If you timed it right and found him sitting under the “Experts” tent just before the start of his popular tour, you might be treated to his announcement of a new book just as likely to enlighten and delight as a new project, such as his initiative, through the American Chestnut Foundation, to establish disease-resistant chestnut seedlings at the Arboretum.
Always mindful of the need for the Arboretum to think of the future and to focus on sustainability and accessibility, Ed was a goldmine of both creativity and good old Yankee practicality. He lobbied successfully for the transition to QR codes to enhance the visitor’s experience of his native plant collection. He utilized the Arboretum’s newly acquired golf carts to allow interested parties of any age or physical ability to travel the trails he had tended for so many years.
We will miss you, Ed, but the footprint you left us at Landis is as big as that of Sasquatch and not nearly as elusive. You are everywhere at the Arboretum. Rest in peace, my friend.
If you would like to read the review of Adventures of the Mind, click here to visit our website newsletter archive.