The Vaile Mansion, one of Independence's most stately buildings, is now recognized as an accredited arboretum in recognition of its tree collection.
The Vaile has been awarded Level 1 Accreditation by the ArbNet Arboretum Program and Morton Arboretum for the professional standards for arboreta – botanic gardens dedicated to trees – and botanic gardens on its 5-acre grounds.
The ArbNet Arboretum Program is a global initiative that recognizes arboreta at various levels of development, capacity and professionalism. The Vaile is now listed in the Morton Register of Arboreta, a database of the world's arboreta and gardens dedicated to woody plants.
According to the ArbNet website, Level IV is its highest level of accreditation, reserved for places which manage tree collections for conservation purposes and employ tree research scientists. Level I arboreta generally are smaller publicly accessible sites with at least 25 species of woody plants and have a handful of employees. Examples include golf courses, college arboreta, cemeteries, zoos, private estates or towns with an organized collection.
Charlotte Olejko, parks horticulturalist for the Independence Parks/Recreation/Tourism Department said the city is truly honored to receive the ArbNet accreditation for the Vaile Mansion.
“It validates the importance of the historic landscape and the choices of plant materials it showcases,” she said in a city news release. “The esteemed ArbNet accreditation also honors the creators of this unique landscape.”
Vaile's tree collection includes the Missouri State Champion Smoketree, Liberty Elm and a walkway lined with 30 sugar maples, as well as many native trees and an expanding lilac collection.
The Vaile Mansion was built in 1881, patterned after a French chateau the Vailes saw on a trip to Europe. The city has owned the building since 1983, and the Vaile Victorian Society and tourism volunteers conduct tours and raise funds to supplement the city's restoration investment.