Thursday, August 20, 2015

5 Reasons to Visit Before the Sun Sets on Summer

Photo: Rob Cardillo
Summer is winding down but there is still a lot to do in the garden at Morris Arboretum. Here are 5 reasons to visit before the sun sets on summer.
  1. The cooling power of trees and bubbling fountains provide a perfect respite of tranquility from the hustle and bustle of the city. It can be as much as 10-15 degrees cooler under the shade of a big tree, and Morris Arboretum has a lot of state champion trees! Learn More
  2. Patrick Dougherty’s stick sculpture, A Waltz in the Woods lures art lovers and children alike with its seven 25-foot tall twisting towers that you can roam through, or race in and out of. Learn More
  3. Out on a Limb takes you high up in the treetops on a canopy walk that requires no climbing. Or you can scamper onto the Squirrel Scramble, a hammock-like rope netting and pretend you’re a squirrel peering down from 50 feet up. Learn More
  4. The Garden Railway presents Art & Architecture with Philadelphia sculptures like Rocky and The Thinker, along with architecture from afar like the Eiffel Tower. And that is just the back drop for model trains zipping in and out of tunnels, through bridges, and under trestles on a quarter mile track. Labor Day weekend is Circus Week at the Garden Railway. Come see the Big Top and the circus trains take over the tracks. Learn More
  5. Sculpture Scavenger Hunt Open your eyes to art in the garden with the new Sculpture Scavenger Hunt.  Pick up a clue sheet at the Visitor’s Center now through October, and solve 10 riddles to find 10 sculptures, each with a secret code attached.  Guests who decipher the cryptic message will receive a complimentary pack of Play Doh® to create their own work of art. Get the Guide

Tuesday, August 11, 2015

268 Butterflies Fluttered By

Last week a group of 8 butterfly enthusiasts spent two days counting these winged beauties. Poor weather at the official North American Butterfly Association Count on July 4 motivated the group to perform their own count here at the Arboretum, a haven for butterflies. The final tally revealed an impressive 33 species and 268+ sightings in just four hours!

Here's the complete list of their findings (click each for images and more information):

Thursday, August 6, 2015

Art Outdoors: 5 Creative Adventures

Photo: Rob Cardillo

This summer at Morris Arboretum we've adopted the theme of Art & Architecture in the Garden with a wide range of experiences with a creative flair. From an iconic-architecture-filled garden railway display, to a towering stickwork sculpture from world-renown artist Patrick Dougherty. But we're not the only ones taking the creativity to the great outdoors. Here's our round-up of our favorite places to experience art and nature in greater Philadelphia:
  1. Patrick Dougherty's A Waltz in the Woods at Morris Arboretum
    On-going; free with garden admission.
    Come explore the seven “towers” of this unique creation, each roughly 30 feet high, through which visitors may roam. Open windows create an airy feel, and opposing doors allow for travel between the towers. Learn More
  2. Sculpture Zoo at Rittenhouse Square
    Saturday, August 8, 10:00am - 1:00pm; free.
    Sculpture comes to life in Rittenhouse Square! This free family-friendly event will host live animals, sculpture-making workshops and demonstrations, and sculpture tours. Learn More
  3. Philadelphia Museum's Inside Out Exhibition
    On-going through mid-November 2015; free.
    The PMA is taking its collection outdoors this summer, placing 60 replicas of Museum masterpieces around greater Philadelphia. Check out the list of participating locations and see how many you can spot. Bonus: Participating zip codes receive free admission to the PMA October 16-18. Details Here
  4. Open Source from the Mural Arts Program
    In progress, opening October 2.

    Thanks to the City of Philadelphia's Mural Arts Program, the city has been dubbed The World's Largest Art Gallery. While walking the streets this summer, keep your eyes open for a range of new works, part of the Open Source exhibition. Formally opening October 2 at the Bok Building. Learn More
  5. Museum Without Walls’ Outdoor Sculpture Bike Map
    On-going; free.
    Exercise, art, and fresh air? The folks at the Museum Without Walls have combined all three through their fantastic Outdoor Sculpture Bike Map. Cycle to all 18 works of art (10 miles) or take a leisurely 4 mile route to see 6 sculptures. Get the Map

Tuesday, July 7, 2015

Our Summer Reading List

Ready to delve into a good book? Morris Arboretum staffers are an enthusiastic group of readers and have offered up some great book suggestions. As a bonus, we're even sharing our favorite spots in the garden to get lost in the pages!

Our Summer Garden Reading List

  • American Canopy: Trees, Forests, and the Making of a Nation by Erik Rutkow
    This fascinating and groundbreaking book tells the remarkable story of the relationship between Americans and their trees across the entire span of our nation's history, perfect for history buffs and nature lovers alike.
    Where to read it: The cozy benches at the Orange Balustrade where you can listen to the sounds of water trickling through the rocks as you turn the pages.
  • Sting in the Tale: My Adventures with Bumblebees by Dave Goulson
    Goulson, an English scientist with a passion for bees, a wonderful sense of humor and a great knack for making science accessible.
    Where to read it: Lydia's Seat (Adjacent to the Rock Wall). Get lost in this read while watching the bees busy in the Rose Garden.
  • The Signature of All Things by Elizabeth Gilbert
    A glorious, sweeping novel of desire, ambition, and the thirst for knowledge, from the New York Times bestselling author of Eat, Pray, Love.
    Where to read it: The benches outside our Victorian glasshouse Fernery, which makes the perfect backdrop for this period story.
  • The Brother Gardeners: A Generation of Gentlemen Naturalists and the Birth of an Obsession by Andrea Wulf
    Bringing to life the science and adventure of eighteenth-century plant collecting, The Brother Gardeners is the story of how six men created the modern garden and changed the horticultural world in the process. It is a story of a garden revolution that began in America.
    Where to read it: Grab a seat in one of the Adirondack chairs around the swan pond for this fascinating tale.
  • Chasing the Rose: An Adventure in the Venetian Countryside by Andrea Di Robilant
    What starts out as a lighthearted quest becomes a meaningful journey as di Robilant contemplates the enduring beauty of what is passed down to us in a rose, through both the generosity of nature and the cultivating hand of human beings, who for centuries have embraced and extended the life of this mysterious flower.
    Where to read it: The Rose Garden, of course! Bonus: This book is available for purchase at our Visitor Center Shop.

Tuesday, June 16, 2015

See Philly’s Iconic Sculptures... in the Garden!

LOVE statue. Photo: Bob Weber

Rocky statue. Photo: Arnold Winkler
Rodin’s The Thinker. Photo: Arnold Winkler
Oldenberg’s 'Clothespin' Photo: Bob Weber

This summer, some of Philadelphia’s favorite statues can be seen in miniature at Morris Arboretum’s Garden Railway display, where Art & Architecture takes the stage. Visitors will experience art such as Rodin’s ‘The Thinker’ to Oldenburg’s ‘Clothes Pin’; marvel at daring architecture including Frank Lloyd Wright’s ‘Falling Waters’ to Thomas Jefferson’s ‘Monticello’; and delight in the whimsical architecture of roadside attractions such as ‘Randy’s Donuts’ and the ‘Giant Teapot’. The sculptures and buildings are all made of natural materials – bark, leaves, twigs, hollow logs, mosses, acorns, dried flowers, seeds and stones.

Open daily now through Labor Day. Enjoy model trains zipping along a quarter-mile track with bridges and tunnels, surrounded by a fantasy village of Philadelphia buildings and sculptures, and other architectural triumphs from around the world. It’s all outdoors in the summer garden!

The Summer Garden Railway is open daily through September 7, 2015; weekends only through October 12. Learn More »

Friday, June 12, 2015

3 Shade Trees for Small Spaces

Magnolia stellata – star magnolia

Magnolia virginiana (sweetbay magnolia)

Stewartia psuedocamellia (Japanese stewartia)

Nothing beats sitting under a spreading shade tree on a lazy summer day, enjoying something fresh from the garden, or an ice-cold drink. Many of us do not have the space for a full-size shade tree, or prefer not to have a large tree by the patio or close to the house. But, do not worry, there are plenty of options of small to medium-sized trees that fit the bill of providing shade in the garden, while also being in scale with smaller spaces, and not overwhelming the area in which they are planted.

By medium-sized trees, I am referring to trees that grow to between 15-25 feet within approximately 20 years. Think of these as plants that grow to between one and two stories tall, and you can get a sense of how they might work in your landscape.

With so many options to choose from, it is hard to pick just a few. Here are three to get you started:
  1. Magnolia stellata – star magnolia: native to Japan, it is one of the earliest magnolias to flower, with bright white flowers in late March and early April.
  2. Magnolia virginiana (sweetbay magnolia): one of the most adaptable magnolias, of all of the trees on this list, it is probably the best for urban conditions or heavy soils. Sweetbay is notable for its small, but fragrant, flowers in mid-June. Some varieties (M. virginiana var. australis) such as ‘Milton’, ‘Henry Hicks’, and ‘Green Bay’ are evergreen, holding their leaves throughout the winter.
  3. Stewartia psuedocamellia (Japanese stewartia): is probably the most finicky plant on this list, and one that prefers a rich, well drained soil, high in organic matter. However, this is a plant that rewards throughout the year, with beautiful exfoliating bark, early summer flowers, and fantastic fall color. If you can grow this plant, it is one of the best to have in the garden.
Happy planting, and sit back and enjoy for years to come.

For even more small tree suggestions and information, join our new tour on Saturdays (June 13, 20, 27), Small Trees For Small Spaces.

Article contributed by Anthony Aiello - The Gayle E. Maloney Director of Horticulture & Curator, Morris Arboretum of the University of Pennsylvania
Photos: Paul W. Meyer

Thursday, June 11, 2015

Weekend Picks: Fountain Spotting

As summer starts to heat up we are drawn to the mesmerizing splish-splash of our many water features. Morris Arboretum has more than ten unique water features, some even dating back to the Estate Years. On particularly hot days even we are tempted to dip our toes in the cool, flowing water, but alas, wading in the fountains is not permitted! Download the Founding Treasures Tour Guide and see how many fountains you can spot this weekend.

Four Not-To-Be-Missed Fountains 


1. Step Fountain This water feature was built in 1916 facing the hilltop site of Compton. Lydia Morris commissioned the fountain in the Beaux Arts style with an imaginative use of water – popular in late Victorian landscapes in the Philadelphia area. Located in the English Park

2. Lydia's Seat
In 1910, “Garden Steps, Wall & Seat” were built into the hillside at the north end of the Rose Garden.  The seat and stairs were a favorite garden approach from the Compton mansion to the mixed flower, kitchen and herb gardens that preceded the Rose Garden. Located in the northwest corner of the Rose Garden

3. The Long Fountain
The creation of the Long Fountain was inspired by a trip the Morrises took to the Alhambra in Spain.  After the visit, John and Lydia were motivated to install a “Moorish” fountain, which was constructed in 1905. Located adjacent to the Pennock Garden

4. Key Fountain
Built circa 1915, the Key Fountain combines design elements from the medieval palaces of Islamic Spain with the Victorian rock gardens of Adirondack America.  This adaptive mix of architectural and garden features is typical of eclectic Victorian gardens. Located in the western corner of the arboretum.
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