“Web Worms and Cherries go together like biscuits and gravy.” ~ Gerald Klingaman

OLLI Students in front of The Arkansas Grand Canyon at the Cliff House Inn, Jasper, AR.

“The Spring we’re having this year is a Spring typical of the 1980s. Over the last twenty years Dogwoods have begun blooming earlier and earlier. This is a slow season,” OLLI instructor Dr. Gerald Klingaman said as he and an OLLI group of 11 students traveled by van down the scenic Pig Trail to Cass and onward to Oark.

Students enjoyed clever anecdotes and insightful information about local flora from Dr. Klingaman, former project manager and current Director of Operations for the Botanical Garden of the Ozarks. Author of a Plant of the Week series, resident expert horticulturist Dr. Klingaman provided detailed information about much more than Dogwoods alone. The trip began with an outline of key differences in varieties of Dogwood and Cherry trees. Dr. Klingaman said onlookers would notice the trees early blooms because of the appearance of web worms. “Web worms and cherries go together like biscuits and gravy,” Dr. Klingaman told students.

Before enjoying slices of homemade pie at the Oark General Store, OLLI students were exposed to the many varieties of Dogwood trees and their histories, as well as the timeframe that you can expect to see them each Spring. One of OLLI’s most extensive course offerings, OLLI students enjoyed learning about Arkansas topography, historic geography and flora and a brief history of Arkansas agriculture over a period of nine hours as they then drove alongside the Dogwood Trail up Highway 7N.

Due to the extreme popularity among OLLI members, this event was scheduled to take place twice, on two back-to-back days. During the second day of the Dogwood Trail Tour, OLLI member Jeanie Tomlinson explained that she loved learning new things by participating in OLLI courses. Tomlinson said, “I had never heard of a Pawpaw before going on an OLLI hike.” Like Tomlinson, other OLLI members had much to share about their newfound knowledge surrounding the beauty harnessed within Arkansas landscape. Members Marv and Donna Wiseman explained that they moved to Fayetteville Arkansas a few years ago from Texas and Indiana. Avid explorers, the Wiseman’s explained that they once took a train from Springdale to Van Buren to become better acquainted with the landscape. By becoming OLLI members, they were pleased that the Dogwood Trail Tour exposed them to critical information about the history of that state’s flora, fauna, mountain ranges and rivers to name only a few characteristics.

Members enjoyed lunch as the scenic Cliff House Inn and Restaurant in Jasper before heading back to Fayetteville filled with a tasty lunch, and knowledge to boot.

By: Shelby Dye