To enjoy one of the best showcases of Michigan flora and fauna, consider journeying to Hillsdale College’s Slayton Arboretum this summer. The Arboretum is privately owned by the college and diligently maintained by its staff so as to remain consistently in a top-notch condition. Access to the Arboretum is free and open to the public. Exploring it or simply taking a break on one of the numerous benches and enjoying the scenery can account for many delightful hours of your summer day.
The Slayton Arboretum is a prime example of how beautiful nature can be when diligently taken care of by humans. Numerous ponds, small and large, have been made into excellent habitats for a variety of interesting creatures: frogs, colorful fish, and even turtles that are often visible through the clear waters. Hillsdale is home to a multitude of squirrels, gray and black; many of them enjoy the friendly environment of the Arboretum, and you might get a glimpse of these amusing creatures as they scurry about in search of food or perform acrobatic feats in the trees. North American red squirrels also make frequent appearances; they are smaller than the typical squirrel and incredibly adorable, certain to delight young children and animal enthusiasts in general.
It is easy to walk on the well-trimmed grass of the Slayton Arboretum, which is occasionally supplemented by stone-paved paths. The area might resemble a rustic or wilderness setting in some of its features, but in reality it was carefully designed to offer all the charms of such environments, with none of the inconveniences. The outer regions of the Arboretum — the ones closest to the entrance and most readily accessible to the public — most closely approximate a park or garden; the remoter parts are more rugged and remind one of a Michigan forest.
At the back of the Slayton Arboretum, directly forward from the entrance, is a magnificent elevation, with stone steps leading up to a prominent gazebo. For hours I have sat or stood there, overlooking the terrain below; this is an excellent place to visit with a book, camera, or portable board game. The gazebo offers a cool shade to protect from the summer heat, while enabling a remarkable panoramic view of the front of the Arboretum and the field beyond it. A second gazebo slightly to the side offers an excellent setting for small group gatherings. During the school year, Hillsdale College hosts various public events there, and a club of students even performs Shakespeare plays. In the summer, this area could serve as a wonderful place for a picnic with friends and family.
Other attractions in the Slayton Arboretum include the children’s garden; as the name suggests, this is a feature designed to appeal to young visitors as they learn about plant and animal life. Classes, nature walks, and artistic activities for kids are held in the Arboretum during the summer. For a small fee or donation, children can learn about the beauties of Michigan flora and fauna from knowledgeable instructors.
During this summer, when nature is in full bloom, consider a visit to the Slayton Arboretum, where you can remain for hours among delightful scenery — reading, walking, observing, and resting.
If you enjoyed the Slayton Arboretum, consider reading these articles to guide your exploration of other nearby summertime nature destinations:
“Ten Things to Do in Battle Creek, Michigan” by Yona Williams. The city of Battle Creek, only slightly north of Hillsdale, offers another great destination for admirers of human-maintained natural sights: the Leila Arboretum. Read this article to discover the kinds of sights available there.
“Golf and More – Five Ann Arbor Date Places” by Esther November. This article describes another wonderful, free arboretum supported by the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor, a brief drive away from Hillsdale.
“Inexpensive Michigan Summer Entertainment Ideas” by Lindsey Russell. One of the advantages of visiting the Slayton Arboretum is that it is free of charge. To discover other excellent inexpensive ideas for spending your summer in Michigan, read the many helpful suggestions in this article.