Arboretum’s Awesome August Perfecta Is Open Call to Honor Founder Fred Lape Since Route 20s hard-won designation as a New York State Scenic Byway in August 2005, savvy tourists are enticed to choose this centuries’ old, rural highway over higher-speed routes and to explore roadside venues they may have overlooked in a hurried drive to “elsewhere.” The George Landis Arboretum in Esperance, NY, is one of those off-roads treasures. The Arboretum is central to the New York State Wine and Spa Trails and a natural stop for those traveling to the high-volume tourist attractions between the Albany, Cooperstown, and Finger Lakes regions.  In this time of escalating prices, visitors to the Arboretum’s spectacular 548 acre site -- which straddles both Montgomery and Schoharie Counties in the Foothills of the Catskills -- enjoy the fact that they are within minutes of a world of exploration, including the adventures of  Howe Caverns (518-296-8900/; nearby restored Cave House; the 25-acre, eight structure Old Stone Fort Museums Complex in Schoharie (518) 295-7192,; the horseback acrobatics of JD Winslow in Esperance (518) 875-6506;; the eclectic offerings of Thyme for Tea (518-234-1640), the Iroquois Indian Museum (, and historic Sharon Springs     Save Gas – and Share a Memorable DayThe message from the Capital Region’s Arboretum is simple and direct.  Come. Stay. Play for a day – and save gas, while having a memorable day with family and friends at the Arboretum's Awesome August Perfecta.   The daylong panoply of outdoor events – including an open mic for performers and entertainers – will pay homage to the Arboretum’s peripatetic founder Fred Lape who would have been 108 this year.  Admission and parking are free to the Arboretum’s Awesome August Celebration.  There is a registration fee for the 5K ( > AWESOME AUGUST PERFECTA.  Food and beverages will be available for sale throughout the day through D&L Barbeque of Esperance, NY.  Families also are invited to bring their own tail-gate fare and enjoy it in the picnic areas at the Arboretum. Suggested donations of $5 person, $15 family are strongly encouraged to support the Capital Region’s Arboretum, a non-profit entity that depends on fundraising, grants, and the generosity of visitors to sustain itself as a public park open to all.    “We coined the word perfecta,” says Landis executive director Thom O’Connor, “to reflect what we believe will be a perfect alchemy of interrelated events for family fun, education, and entertainment at the beautiful Arboretum.  As we like to say at Landis, ‘Rain or shine, it’s gonna be fine!’” Key elements in the Saturday, August 30 festive gathering include:    9 am – Noon    Arboretum’s Perennial 5K Cross Country Forest Run/Walk ‘n’ Tot TrotFollowing last year’s successful 5K, the Arboretum again invites Capital Region runners – and those who support them – to enjoy the spectacular views of the Schoharie countryside at the beautiful Landis Arboretum.  All proceeds to benefit the non-profit Landis Arboretum and Wanderland Universally Accessible Garden at Landis. Course: The 5K run takes you on a tour of the 548-acre public garden. The majority of the race is set among the Arboretum’s trails, ranging from woodlands to fields with rolling hills.Awards: Male/Female—Top in each age group: Under 15, 15–19, 20–29, 30–39, 40–49, 50–59, 60–69, 70+.For more information – including registration fees and forms – visit  Contact race coordinator Jonathan DiCesare with any questions—518-231-2290. Noon – 4 pmOld Stone Fort Militia Encampment at the Arboretum            The Schoharie area was a dangerous place during the Revolution.  Men joined the militia to protect their families and defend their homes.  Awesome August participants are invited to be part of the action as the Stone Fort Volunteer Militia musters them to Join the Militia. ·         Learn basic drills and marching maneuvers with wooden muskets. ·         Engage in a mock skirmish – for the adventuresome of any age!  No actual firing, but plenty of fun!  Individuals, families and visitors of all ages are invited to: ·         Participate in Colonial life at the Militia’s Revolutionary War encampment at Landis·         Explore Civilian activities for the whole family!·         Learn spinning and useful household skills of the period·         Sample 18th century cooking around the campfire!·         Have fun in the open air of the spectacular Landis Arboretum In the afternoon, Captain Jeff O’Connor and his Old Stone Fort Volunteer Militia — along with local Boy Scout troops, including Arboretum-sponsored Troop 501 under Scoutmaster Chuck Stephens — will present a more advanced demonstration of frontier skirmish tactics.       Old Stone Fort Museum.  Eight historic and museum buildings exhibiting 300 years of rural New York history at a Revolutionary War battle site.  Self-guided tours, customized educational and group programs, research and genealogy library, museum store, special events and more. 145 Fort Road, Schoharie, NY  12157, (518) 295-7192, Open May through October. 2 pmWalk through Old Growth Forest at the Capital Region’s ArboretumHoward Stoner, esteemed professor of mathematics at Hudson Valley Community College (Troy) and member of the Eastern Native Tree Society (focused on documenting old growth in New York State.) will lead a walking tour of the ancient forests at the Arboretum.  (See Old Growth Beckons, below.) 3 - 8 pmLAPE DAY OPEN MIC The Arboretum will provide an Open Mic and atmosphere that encourages openness and artistic expression indicative of Fred Lape’s legacy as a man of the artsThe Arboretum encourages creative individuals and those who support them to bring their music, poetry, prose, artwork, and crafts to share with others within the rolling hills and plantings of the Arboretum.  “We’ll provide a public address (PA) system and an open mic,” says Fred Breglia, the Arboretum’s ISA Certified Arborist and event co-chair.  “Participants can make the experience as public or private as they like.”   He suggests that “some artists and performers may prefer to sit quietly and play their music.  Others play better to an audience.  Area bands, soloists, and performance artists will be allotted time within the evening’s flexible agenda.  Plans also include a campfire sing-a-long.  The vast dark, starlit sky of the Arboretum, a favorite of area astronomers and star-gazers, will provide a natural closure to the enthusiastic events of the day.  Guests and participants are asked to bring lawn chairs and blankets.  Refreshments will be sold.  No rain date is scheduled.   8:30 pmNature Tunes and Tales Campfire  As part of the Lape Birthday Celebration festivities, well-know Amsterdam, NY-based naturalist George Steele will conduct a Nature Tunes and Tales Campfire.  Mr. Steele brings this traditional, group participatory activity to new heights as he creates a true theater in the round with a fitting emphasis on ecology, plants, animals, and nature-related movements – replete with a ceremonial lighting of the Magic Campfire.  Anyone who has ever experienced the warmth, excitement, and camaraderie of shared time around a dancing fire in the cool night air will want to attend this event. No one does it better than Mr. Steele, an area resident of the Route 20 Scenic Corridor, who is in demand at schools, nature centers, public gardens, and arboreta across the northeast.   Fred Lape:  A Legend in His Own Time…and Ours as WellArboretum founder Fred Lape would have been 108 years old on August 19.  Lape, a musician, poet, English professor, and writer, was a familiar face to residents in the area when he established the Arboretum in 1951.  More than neighbors and writers, Kenneth DeKay and his wife Agnes were personal friends of Fred Lape.  The DeKays, who still reside in Esperance, actually lived at the Arboretum and memorialized Lape in their 1986 book, Fred Lape.  To them, he was a larger-than-life figure…”possessed with boundless energy and a broad range of talents and interests.  Because of that, people were attracted to him with the same enthusiasm as he exhibited for procuring rare specimens for the then-nascent Arboretum.  One of Fred Lape’s major literary endeavors was the publishing of Trails, a Literary Magazine of the Outdoors over a twenty year span from 1932 to 1951.  Taking Root along Route 20 in EsperanceThe Arboretum features cultivated and native trees, shrubs, and perennials on the site of a 19th Century farm in Esperance, the home of the Lape family.  The Lape homestead was known as Oak Nose Farm – for a majestic, 400-year old white oak on a point overlooking the Schoharie Valley. Lape earned two degrees in English at Cornell and started a teaching career at Stanford University, before he returned in 1928 to the farm to pursue a career in freelance writing. Prolific in prose and poetry, Lape also delighted in music, art, and theater.   In the late 1930s, he taught at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute in Troy, New York.The Arboretum’s reputation as a place to learn was established well before the first trees were planted. Fred Lape attracted a following of friends and academic colleagues who shared his excitement for plants. The collections are an excellent source of information for gardeners, artists, and scientists alike. The Arboretum is dedicated to providing formal educational programs, in addition to the collections, gardens and natural areas.Fred Lape aimed to grow every species of woody plant from temperate regions around the world that would survive in the hills of Schoharie County.  To fulfill that desire he started planting trees at Oak Nose Farm.  Others came to share his interest and became an integral part of operations at the Arboretum. George Landis, an academic colleague, plant collector, and friend of Lape, was one of the early enthusiasts who helped bring about the creation of the arboretum.  He died in 1950, leaving most of his estate to Lape, enabling him to focus on planting an arboretum. The George Landis Arboretum was established in 1951 and named for the "friend who had made it all possible both in life and in death."LeVan Loveland, banker, financial advisor, and Lape friend, was responsible for the incorporation of the Arboretum as an educational institution. Loveland is also remembered for his skill and enthusiasm for flower gardening and his original perennial beds continue to attract large numbers of visitors year after year.At the Arboretum, Lape kept careful records of his plantings, providing valuable historical documentation of his efforts. With assistance from friends and a few small grants, he continued to plant and maintain the grounds.  These records formed the first step toward recognition of the Arboretum last year as a charter member of the American Public Garden Association’s PlantCollections® database – positioning the nation’s leading public gardens to beta test a state-of-the-art global database.  Lape continued to be devoted to the idea of a “garden of trees and shrubs” until his death in 1985.   Now well into its second 50 years, the Landis Arboretum is one of the four more significant arboreta in New York. The Planting Arboretum and Bayard Cutting Arboretum, both located on Long Island in a different hardiness zone, and the Cornell Plantations in Ithaca, with an extensive scientific orientation, compliment the scenic, rural, and multifaceted operation of Landis. Approximately 10,000 people visit the Landis Arboretum each year. Trees That Tell a StoryThose familiar with the Landis Arboretum know that it is many things.  The Arboretum's most recent land acquisition, for example, almost doubled the size of the site and contains a horticulture bonanza.  Last summer, a team of old-growth-forest experts surveyed the site and found species of trees ranging from 150 to 350 years old.  One parcel of land near the Montgomery County line contains one of the oldest forests in the area.  A fairly diverse range of species comprises the Arboretum’s old growth forest.  The dominant trees are American beech, sugar maple, hemlock, and yellow and black birch. Other species include striped maple, basswood, black cherry, paper birch, butternut hickory, American elm, and a few massive grapevines that are hundreds of years old and more than 85-feet tall. Several stands of large American beech add to the uniqueness of this forest.  Big beech trees growing in the wild are uncommon today due to a fungus disease known as the beech bark complex, which often kills beech trees before they can attain their mature size.Like the venerable and stately Great Oak that captures the sight and imagination of every visitor to the Lape Estate, the Arboretum itself is a mighty oak evolved from an acorn of inspiration and nurtured by passionate people united in their love and respect for nature.  They unite again on August 30 for the Arboretum’s Awesome August Perfecta.   The Stone Fort Volunteer Militia ExperienceMembers of the Stone Fort Volunteer Militia are valued participants in the Schoharie County Historical Society’s mission to preserve, educate, and promote the county’s history. Though based at the Old Stone Fort Museum, members have opportunities to present what they learn at other interesting sites and different functions such as parades, regional events, and commemorations.   There is no Membership Fee associated with the Volunteer Militia experience.  Members will be expected to learn to make or obtain their own clothing and equipment as well as contribute to the cooked meals, but the program organizers and members are dedicated to making the introduction to living history as inexpensive as possible. Donations of fabric and other materials are always welcome. Upon joining, new members are given:
  • Introductory materials, including historical information about Schoharie County
  • Clothing guidelines
  • A drill manual 
  • The latest newsletter, which is mailed monthly to members
  • Help finding clothing and equipment sources
 Family members of all ages are eligible to join as long as adults accompany small children.Unlike sports teams, the Stone Fort Volunteer Militia encourages parents to participate with their children.  Those interested may join at any time. A call ahead is always appreciated, but not necessary. Usually clothes are available to borrow at first, so new recruits can enjoy participating right away! With the help and enthusiasm of the Volunteer Militia and their families, the Schoharie Historical Society hopes to ensure that a thrilling part of Schoharie County history is never forgotten.  For further information, call the Old Stone Fort Museum Complex(518) 295-7192 OR Visit the Stone Fort Volunteer Militia on the Web! Follow the links at: Calling Children of All AgesThe Arboretum offers classes, workshops, guided and self-guided nature study.  Workshop subjects include hawks, moths, birds, amphibians and reptiles, and arthropods.  Horticultural interests are the focus of classes in pruning, tree identification, daylilies, roses, trillium, and plant propagation.  Ancillary workshops have focused on photography, botanical illustration, and landscape painting.  The Arboretum is an ideal outdoor classroom for children.  With more than 1,000 labeled species of trees, shrubs, and herbaceous perennials from around the world and two old growth forests with diverse wildlife habitats, children love the Arboretum and are eager to learn in this environment.   A 2008 partnership with the Wildlife Learning Company (Oneonta) has heightened interest and participation in Arboretum events.  A full-service environmental education company offering services and products to schools, libraries, environmental organizations and members of the general public, the Wildlife Learning Company/Arboretum partnership promotes conservation through education and strives to connect people to nature by providing programs and products that foster an appreciation of the natural environment, impart an understanding of how natural systems function, and create a desire for people to explore the natural world further and take personal responsibility for its protection and care. Wildlife Learning Company provided programs to more than 6,000 participants last year.    Interaction with Route 20 CommunitiesThe interdependence of the natural order is reflected in the Arboretum’s strong commitment to supporting the businesses that lie outside its perimeter. Quaint shops that line the Main Street of Esperance welcome visitors to the town.    Funding for the Landis Arboretum’s upkeep and extensive community-focused programs is derived primarily from grants, donations, membership, and the increasingly popular Spring and Fall Plant Sales that have become hallmarks of the Arboretum.  A Suggested Donation of $5/visitor, $15/family helps to defray basic costs for this multifaceted operation.   Residents and visitors who wish to contribute their time, talent, or treasure to the Landis Arboretum are invited to contact the Arboretum, PO Box 186, Lape Road, Esperance, NY 12066-0186; 518-875-6935/Fax: 18-875-6394,