Close Memorial Park
part of the state that has a designated collection of native trees planted and identified,” said Cindy Garner, a Missouri Department of Conservation urban forester who works in the agency’s 17-county Southwest Region. “Even a casual stroll through the park will allow people to learn how to identify Missouri’s native trees.”
Close Park’s arboretum isn’t entirely devoted to native trees. It also includes non-native species that are marked by small signs that give the taxonomic and common names of trees, but no other information.
Close Memorial Park, which opened in June, 2001, is a choice site for an arboretum. At the time of its purchase in the mid-1990s, the site already had a number of mature trees, good soil and plenty of water in the form of the pond and a small stream that trickles across the area.
It also enjoys a good location. Close Park adjoins Nathaniel Greene Park, a city-owned 60-acre park with a number of amenities and events that draw thousands of visitors to the site each year. Close Park also is dissected by the South Creek/Wilson’s Creek Greenways Trail, a recreational route that brings a large number of joggers, cyclists and walkers through the site.
The Close Family Foundation assisted the Springfield-Greene County Parks Department in acquiring the land. Early in the project, Close came up with the idea for an arboretum.
“I was working closely with Cindy Jobe from the Park Board,” Close recalled. “I remember she had a book that had something about Missouri trees. I looked at that and saw that we had a certain amount of native trees out there already. I thought ‘Well, why don’t we just continue that collection.’ And it’s grown from that.”
The Missouri Department of Conservation assisted with the arboretum’s development with a $10,000 grant that covered the costs of planting 57 native trees and adding permanent signage next to the trees and at the park’s entrance. The grant also paid for the removal of dead trees and for the proper trimming of existing trees.
Justine Gartner, the Missouri Department of Conservation’s forestry field program supervisor, said it was money well spent.
“An arboretum like the one at Close Park gives Missourians the opportunity to look at and enjoy trees that they may not have been exposed to otherwise,” she said. “Such efforts are a great way to promote little-known trees that would be wonderful plants for a yard or landscape.
“For those who are interested