NEWS

HELLO, my name is Peter Moe

Hometown: Richfield, Minnesota.

When did you join UMRA? I retired on May 2, 2023, and joined UMRA in June 2023.

What was your very first job? I was a part-time, high school worker at the Lyndale Garden Center in Richfield. I sold and flocked Christmas trees. Through the seasons, I worked in their greenhouses growing tomato and geranium plants, in the garden center selling bedding and landscape plants, and in their fruit and vegetable market. I gained experience in many fields of horticulture before I had taken any U of M classes. 

What was your occupation when you retired from FT work? Director of the University of Minnesota Landscape Arboretum in Chanhassen. The director’s responsibilities include leadership; policy and priority development; oversight of gardens and collections, outreach, guest services, and public relations/media; and fundraising. In addition, the director is responsible for research oversight at both the Arboretum and the Horticulture Research Center (HRC). The Arboretum has developed many high-quality landscape plants, including the “Northern Lights” series of hardy azaleas, while the HRC is the home of the Honeycrisp apple and many other U of M fruit introductions. 

From student gardener to director, your career spanned 50 years, and you are credited with developing "the Arb" into a premier public garden and one of the few in the U.S. with world-class fruit and landscape breeding programs. What inspired you over all those years? My first summer as a student assistant gardener at the Arb, I quickly realized the diversity of trees, shrubs, perennials, and native plants growing there was much greater than the plants available at the Lyndale Garden Center. I saw the potential the Arb could have for introducing new plants for Minnesota and the upper Midwest. After graduation, I became a research plot technician, and later was hired by Leon Snyder, the first Arboretum director, as the landscape maintenance supervisor. Dr. Snyder coined the name “Landscape Arboretum” because he realized that it was important to provide beautiful gardens to build public support and show how to use the best plants for Minnesota in well-designed and maintained landscape plantings. I wanted to continue this legacy. 

Do you have a favorite place at the Arb? The Oak and Nut Tree Collection, which includes some of our longest-lived, most resilient, valuable, and beautiful trees. It is the first location I saw a bitternut hickory, which was completely missing from the nursery industry. In the same collection is a Chinese walnut, a majestic, wide-spreading relative of our native black walnut. Another tree I admire in this collection is the English oak—the same tree that would be found growing in Sherwood Forest in the U.K. 

If you were competing in the 2024 Olympics in Paris, what would you like your sport to be? Athletics has never been my strong suit. While my brother and friends were competing in sports, I was catching butterflies, toads, frogs, snakes, and skinks. I do enjoy swimming and still swim five days per week, so that would be my Olympic sport.

What is a fun fact about you we might not know? I decided that I would attend the U of M while I was in second grade. In addition, my wife and all three of our children are U of M graduates.

What is something you currently enjoy doing with your time? I enjoy the hikes organized by the UMRA Hiking Club and go on as many as possible. I also enjoy hiking in state parks and natural areas across the state while looking for some of Minnesota’s 47 species of native orchids. And, of course, I like to work in my garden and visit the Arboretum. 


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News

The election of UMRA officers and new board members for 2024–25 will be conducted via an online poll from May 13 to 19, with the results to be announced at our annual meeting on May 21. Look for the ballot in your email inbox on May 13. Diane Young has been nominated to be president-elect.

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