Verdant Ventures: A Summer Visitor’s Guide

Verdant Ventures: A Summer Visitor’s Guide

When the cool spring rains give way to the warm sun of summer, the plants of Hoyt Arboretum enter new phenological stages. In some cases, flowers turn to fruits and seeds, and the Arboretum is green and ripening.  

Fruits & Berries

Red elderberries and red huckleberries can be found lining the woodsy trails above your waist.

Purple-blue salal berries and blue Oregon grape berries can be found along those same trails, but below your waist.  

Purple pendulous berries hand down from a thin plant stem with green, spear-like leaves.
Salal berries.
Blue berries clustered on a stem surrounded by spiky red leaves.
Oregon grape berries.

Composite berries with lots of fleshy bubbles surrounding seed in orange-yellow-pink coloration in a thicket of thin stems and pointy, palmate leaves.

Huge clumps of thimbleberry also lend red color spots along the trail.  Yellow-orange salmonberries (shown to the left) are also to be found.

While many of these fruits can be found throughout the arboretum, some of the best concentrations of them will be along the trails in the Conifer Collection.  Elderberries, particularly, dangle in the trail along the switchbacks of the White Pine Trail, and all the fruits can be found along the recommended One Hour Loop. 

NOTE: Foraging is not permitted in the Arboretum, berries and fruits are important food sources for the wildlife that calls this park home.

Summer Flowers

Big collections of light pink flowers in a tube-like formation stick up toward the sky on branches dense with long green leaves.


Even though the berries are ascendant, there are still flowers to be found during the Summer in the arboretum.

Near the Visitor Center, a California buckeye (shown to the left) displays its showy flowers in the courtyard. At the top of the stairs leading to the parking lot, milkweed blooms.

California buckeye can also be found along Maple Trail between Hawthorne Trail and Wildwood Trail.



Maple Trail in the Summer

While Maple Trail is more renowned for its fiery displays in the fall, it is also a wonderful trail to explore summer blooms.  The stretch of Maple Trail east of the Hawthorn Trail has several California buckeyes, a European linden, Japanese hornbeams, and, approaching the juncture with the Walnut Trail, catalpa trees.

A cluster of papery fruits called samaras, or helicopter seeds, hang from the branch of a Japanese Maple with thin, green, palmate leaves.

Linden Trees

The European linden is directly across the trail from the California buckeyes.  The linden does not make the showiest flowers, but it makes a lot of tiny flowers — so many that the limbs hang low over the trail. It’s been said that you can hear a linden bloom before you see any flowers.  It is not that the flowers make noise, but bees really love them. The linden will literally be humming with pollinators.

A section of trail surrounded by California buckeye and linden trees in the foreground with tall conifers in the background.
Maple Trail to the east of Hawthorn Trail. European linden on the left side and California buckeye on the right.
A spray of white flowers and little green buds hang off a branch surrounded by dark green, heart-shaped leaves.
European linden flowers and buds.

Japanese Hornbeam

Long, pendulous clusters of papery flowers hang down from a drooping branch with ridged, long, pointy leaves.





Just before the Maple Trail makes a left bend to the north, you will pass under the drooping branches of the Japanese hornbeam.  This tree’s flowers look quite different from what most people expect of a flower.  It produces catkins — pendulous papery packages — that remind many people of hops.


Branches of a tree droop over a trail like an archway.
Japanese hornbeam on Maple Trail.


white flowers stick up at the top of branches laden with heart-shaped leaves.Around the corner on the Maple Trail, near the juncture with the Walnut Trail, are several catalpa trees. Catalpa flowers are quite showy.  They are orchid-like, white with purple and yellow highlights, and very pleasant smelling. Even when the flowers are not blooming, the tree is recognizable with its large spade/heart-shaped leaves. After flowering, the long bean-like fruit also makes it easy to identify.

FUN FACT!: Catalpa flowers change colors after pollination as a signal to bees to keep movin!

The Meadows of Hoyt Arboretum

There are many wildflowers that will continue to bloom through the summer months. Out in the open meadows, look for white daisies and pink clovers. Under the trees, you’ll find creamy oceanspray, yellow hawkweed, nipplewort, foamflower, and candyflower.

A fuzzy yellow bumble bee drinks nectar from a purple clover flower in a meadow.

Follow Your Nose

Summer at Hoyt Arboretum is also an opportunity to engage more senses than just sight. In addition to some delightful summer bloom perfumes, the new-mown grass of the meadows provides its own heady experience. In the deep woods of our Conifer Collection, the sun warms and dries the needles for a piney scent.  While the Redwood Grove is amazing any time of year, it smells best in summer.

A child holds a crushed California bay leaf up to their nose.Another option in Summer is to continue to follow your nose.  A stroll along the Magnolia Trail will bring you to Mediterranean bay and California bay-laurel. Crush their leaves for an intense olfactory experience (sniff lightly, they can be really potent — another name for the California bay-laurel is “Headache Tree”!).


Summer Conditions

As with all other seasons, there is no wrong way to enjoy Hoyt Arboretum in Summer.  All of the trails have something to offer.  Trail conditions are dryer, but muddy spots can still be encountered. Be prepared for summer weather: protect yourself from the sun and keep hydrated.

The Hoyt Arboretum Visitor Center Sign on Fairview Blvd near the Shuttle sign and with several bright yellow flowers in front.The Hoyt Arboretum Visitor Center offers snacks, beverages, and sunblock for sale. Water fountains and a dog watering bowl are available for all to use. Stop in the Nature Store to get a map, ask our volunteers about current conditions, and get custom recommendations.  Then enjoy your Summer visit to Hoyt Arboretum!

About the Author

Greg Hill is a writer and naturalist with decades of visitor experience at Hoyt Arboretum. An avid hiker, he spent 10 years as a Northwest Mountaineer and Trail Guide. Greg volunteered for a year at the Visitor Center before becoming a Visitor Information Specialist for Hoyt Arboretum Friends.

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