Urbandale to Unveil ‘Secret’ Arboretum Tuesday Night

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URBANDALE, Iowa -- The city of Urbandale is revealing the location of what it calls a "secret" arboretum.

It sits just south of Patricia Drive and Dewey Gibbs Road.

City officials say most people aren't even aware of the shady spot, but it houses acres of native and foreign trees.

The Jackaline Baldwin Dunlap Park and Arboretum is a 12-acre development featuring four acres of a matured arboretum, with a variety of native and foreign trees and plants, including concolor fir, horse chestnut, blue spruce and magnolias.

The park features an outdoor shelter and self-guided tours through a trail. its first year, park workers will focus on maintaining the variety of trees and plants already growing in the city's first arboretum; in later years, the city hopes to expand on the collection.

Jan Herke, Urbandale Parks and Recreation director, says its first year, park workers will focus on maintaining the variety of trees and plants already growing in the city's first arboretum. In later years, the city hopes to expand the collection.

"As we continue into the next year, we'll develop a master plan and make it an educational opportunity for community members and hopefully for students within the elementary and the middle schools," she said. "They'll be able to do a walk through tour and learn what kind of trees, and if they want to purchase a tree themselves, they can come out and see what a mature tree looks like. We really expect this to be an educational component within our park system that we don't yet have."

The city is throwing a grand opening party for the arboretum Tuesday night. The ribbon cutting begins at 6 p.m.

The Story Behind the Jackaline Baldwin Dunlap Park and Arboretum

Herke said the story behind the "secret garden" is nothing short of incredible.

Jackaline and Paul Dunlap began developing the area in 1974 when they bought their home at 3012 Melanie Dr. The couple began purchasing land around their home, transforming it into the park and arboretum.

In 2012, the couple officially deeded the land and their home to the city of Urbandale. Jackaline passed away in 2014, and her husband followed in February of 2016. City officials say it was always the couple's intention to gift the garden to the community.

Read more about the arboretum: A ‘Secret’ Garden: Urbandale Park & Arboretum 40 Years in Making