4400 Mass Ave

Time of the Season

In 1997, the seed of something special was planted in AU’s strategic plan: the goal of campus beautification. As the university’s commitment to green space and environmental stewardship took root, so too did more than 500 species and varieties of woody plants—native and nonnative, common and exotic—and masses of perennials in a rainbow of hues. This year marks the 20th anniversary of the award-winning AU Arboretum and Gardens—84 cultivated acres of American idyll. Dotted with more than 5,000 trees, the arboretum is an oasis of green and tranquility in a city of white marble and movers and shakers—a place for our community to gather, reflect, relax, and plant our own seeds of change. 


Illustra­tion by
Jaylene Arnold

illustration of AU Arboretum in the summer

"Summer is the reward for a productive school year and marks the bittersweet transition into the next, as students say their goodbyes and congratulations. The AU Community Garden bounty is ready to be harvested, and it is in the summer months that I see the fruits of my labor and that of my peers. The figs, pawpaws, grapes, and persimmons ripen around campus, foreshadowing the sweet coming of fall and a new school year.”
—Ashley Hocking, CAS/BS ’24, copresident of the AU Community Garden 


illustration of AU Arboretum in the fall

“Fall brings cooler temperatures, crisper air, and changing leaves. It feels like a fresh start with students returning to campus. We have a lot of colorful perennials that bloom in the fall because we want campus to look its best. When I came to AU in 1996 there was a lot of asphalt; it’s been very rewarding to see people enjoying something you worked so hard to bring to life.” 
—Mike Mastrota, arboretum manager 

illustration of AU Arboretum in the winter

“Winter is a time for reflection as the days shorten and the bare trees reveal the quiet resilience of our campus landscape. During the cold months, I’m especially reminded of the dedication of our 20 full-time groundskeepers who care for our beautiful campus. Their hard work, whether during the summer heat or the winter chill, creates an environment where, like the plants themselves, our changemakers can grow and thrive.”
 —Bronté Burleigh-Jones, Kogod/BSBA ’91, MBA ’93, CFO, vice president, and treasurer 

illustration of AU Arboretum in the spring

“Spring is when the arboretum is its most vibrant. The campus comes alive in a kaleidoscope of color, hope, and community, with students enjoying and experiencing it all. Integrally tied to our vision of what AU can be for our students and for our world, the arboretum continues to build community, foster teaching and learning, and reinforce our commitment to be a good steward of the environment.” 
—President Sylvia Burwell