Can you identify an Eastern Redbud tree? Or a Yellow Buckeye? 

In Jacob’s Nature Park at Sinking Creek, which lies on the South side of Johnson City, volunteers have been working since December to identify and locate a little over 30 native species of tree, officially adding to the park a level one arboretum. 

With the help from Jeff Keeling, a tree enthusiast and Crew 456 from Grandview Christian Church and other volunteers, visitors walking around the park can now learn about the large variety of trees, their names, pollinators they support and more. It also features a digital aspect that by scanning a code on the arboretum signs using a smart phone, visitors will gain access to an online plants map on that contains photos and information about each tree. 

The grand opening of the new arboretum is scheduled to take place beginning Monday Oct. 29 at 4:30 p.m. it will include a short talk about the park and the arboretum its self followed by a guide hike through the park with occasional stops to acknowledge trees included int he arboretum and other aspects of the nature park.

“The arboretum is simply one more building block in a wonderful education environmental park that never going to have playground equipment,” said Keeling, the driving force behind the project. “It’s never going to be paved over its never going to be that kind of park. It’s going to be the kind of park where you can go and have a peaceful time but also learn anything you want to.”

Connie Deegan, Johnson City Parks and Recreation Park Nature Program Coordinator and Jeff Keeling will both be present to answer questions and help visitors identify trees and navigate the arboretum. They will explain the information about the park and arboretum and show park visitors how to use the code on the arboretum signs to access the plants map. 

Jacob’s Nature Park began in memory after the death of six-year-old Jacob Luis Francisco who died in 2004 of a bacterial infection caused by E. coli from an unknown source. His love for playing in nature and climbing trees inspire the idea for the park, made possible by his father and local attorney Bill Francisco.

For more information about Jacob’s Nature Park at Sinking Creek, visit The park’s entrance is located at 1220 King Springs Rd. in Johnson City. Overflow parking will be at Rich Acres Freewill Baptist Church, 1245 King Springs Rd. For information, call 423-283-5821.

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