Friday, December 17, 2010

Penn Glee Club

This past Saturday, we lucked out and had a temporary break in the freezing cold temperatures, just in time for a fun visit from the University of Pennsylvania’s Glee Club!  
25 members of the Glee Club, led by director Erik Nordgren, spread holiday cheer throughout the garden with their festive singing.  They started out with a 30-minute concert on the steps of the Pennock Garden (complete with hot chocolate and cider) and then went on to sing around other parts of the Arboretum, including the Summer Palace and Out on a Limb.  It was a really fun time for everyone who got to hear them, and they covered a great range of songs, including all of the classic Christmas tunes and even a Chanukah song, sung entirely in Hebrew!  
There was a great turnout—over 100 people—and the concert provided a perfect opportunity for folks to also check out our popular Holiday Garden Railway exhibit, open through January 2nd.
The Arboretum was happy to host the Penn Glee Club – they are a very talented group of young men and you could tell that they were enjoying the experience as much as our visitors enjoyed their singing.  In between their sets, the guys could be found exploring the Summer Palace and bouncing up and down on the Squirrel Scramble on Out on a Limb.  All in all, it was a great winter afternoon and we look forward to the Penn Glee Club concert becoming an annual holiday tradition here at the Arboretum.

Friday, December 10, 2010

Come vist the Fernery this winter!

So, its cold outside!  And if you are like me, you don't want to sit inside all winter just because it is cold.  Come out to visit us and take a walk - it is very peaceful here in the winter - and not cold in all parts of the garden.  The fernery here at Morris Arboretum provides a nice place to stop and warm up between Out on a Limb and the Holiday Garden Railway.  I think that the fernery is a really neat little space to see some different plants, look for the dinosaur, watch the fish and warm up a bit.

The Dorrance H. Hamilton Fernery is the only remaining freestanding Victorian fernery in North America.  The Fernery documents a time when Victorians were consumed with ferns and glasshouses.  It was designed by the original owner and namesake of the Arboretum, John Morris.

Monday, December 6, 2010

Holiday Garden Railway

Check out this great video of kids enjoying the Holiday Garden Railway from Pete Mazzaccaro of  He recently took his three-year-old son to see the Garden Railway exhibit here at Morris Arboretum who, as the video shows, thoroughly enjoyed the decorated trains running through a quarter mile of track and holiday themed buildings.  Check out his article at this link

I love the fact that children and adults alike get a huge kick out of watching the trains (and geese swans) scoot along the track and the way this exhibit not only entertains but also connects multiple generations.

Here are a few more pictures of some of the miniature buildings that are all dressed up for the holidays.  The Holiday Garden Railway will be open through January 2nd (closed Dec 24, 25 and Jan 1).

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Getting a birds-eye view of the fall colors

Watch this clip of Morris Arboretum's Paul Meyer talking about changing fall colors and Out on a Limb this fall in the story by Peter Crimmins of WHYY.

Read more at by clicking here.

Friday, October 29, 2010

Talk Philly's Pat Ciarrocchi visits Morris Arboretum

Watch another great news clip with Talk Philly's Pat Ciarrocchi talking with Bob Gutowski from the Morris Arboretum.  Pat takes us to the new exhibit, Out on a Limb, part of the Tree Adventure where we learn more about trees and our interaction with them

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

The grand prize winner for this year's Scarecrow Design Contest is …..

The grand prize winner for this year is …..

Who you gonna call?  CROWBUSTERS!

The top five Scarecrows for this year were:

1.       Who you gonna call?  CROWBUSTERS!
2.       Tuppence a bag
3.       Eight-Legged Scarecrow
4.       Strawroom Dancer
5.       Dracula’s Bride

With more than 2500 votes cast, this year’s Scarecrow Design contest was thrilling.  Visitors and designers alike lent to this air of excitement and we at the Arboretum are delighted about the ever growing popularity of the contest!  Thank you designers for all your hard work and your fabulous Scarecrows!  We can’t wait to see what you’ll create next year.  

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Last week to see the Scarecrows!

For the last three years, Morris Arboretum has held the Scarecrow Design Contest right before Halloween.   Families create a scarecrow, give it a creative name and enter it into the competition.

I love the Scarecrow Design Contest and Scarecrow Walk .  Not only does the contest begin when the leafs start changing colors and the weather cools down (my favorite season), but the Scarecrows are always so creatively and wonderfully built.  Kids, beaming with pride after the family fun activity of building the Scarecrows, drop off their creation with their parents here at the Morris Arboretum and inevitably ask "Do you think we are going to win?"  It is not up to me but there are some great Scarecrows that I think are serious contenders!

This year, we have around thirty scarecrows that are displayed along "Scarecrow Walk" also known as the Oak Allée.  All are welcome to come and stroll down Scarecrow Walk and vote for their favorite Scarecrow.  The winner will be chosen based on the results on the voting.

The scarecrows are only on display until October 17 so come out before then to vote on your favorite. 

You can see all the Scarecrows on our website

Friday, October 8, 2010

New Horticulture Center Dedication

On Tuesday, October 5, we had a dedication ceremony for the recently completed Horticulture Center.  The new Horticulture Center is significant for a number of reasons and the staff, donors, architects and others had the opportunity to gather and celebrate this historic event. Remarks from Advisory Board Chair Ann Reed, Penn Board of Trustees Chair David L. Cohen, Penn President Amy Gutmann, Philanthropist Dorrance Hamilton and Arboretum Director Paul Meyer were followed by lunch and a tour of the facilities.

The Hort Center provides a much needed expansion of the office and garage space for both horticulture and education staff.  Designed to achieve the highest level of LEED certification, this new complex is a showcase for environmentally friendly design.  Visitors can come and see the green roofs, cisterns, photovoltaic cells and more. 

More information and pictures can be found on our website:

Monday, October 4, 2010

Flooding in Philly

On Friday, October 1, Philadelphia received more than five inches of rain.  Although there was a great need for rain in the area, such a large and fast precipitation event caused extensive flooding along the Schuylkill river and Wissahickon creek resulting in closed roads and evacuations.  Morris Arboretum is situated on the Wissahickon Creek and the floodplain for the creek includes the front entrance of the Morris Arboretum.  Northwestern Avenue was closed during the morning and early afternoon (cresting around lunch time) which caused the Arboretum to be closed all day.  Amazingly, the water receded very quickly and by four or five o'clock in the afternoon, the road was accessible and the gates were open.

Enjoy a few pictures taken by Bob Gutowski of the Arboretum during the flooding.

The front gate area is flooded from Northwestern Avenue to the kiosk.

This image was taken toward the top of the hill, toward the wetland area.  You can see the Gemination Sequence sculpture near the center of the image.

A close up of the partially submerged Gemination Sequence statues.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Springfield Mill

Below is an image from the circa 1890 “Catalog of Burnaham’s New Improved Standard Water Wheel”.   The catalog, now in our archives, was discovered in the Bloomfield Barn with the office address of John Morris (876 Drexel Building) written on the cover.  

A similar Burnham turbine in the penstock at Springfield Mills was uncovered in September during restoration activities.  The Burnham turbine, built in Glenn Rock, PA, was last restored during WWII to power the irrigation pumps in the mill supplying the beef herd here at Morris Arboretum.  Here is a picture from roughly the same perspective as the sketch. 

I was able to go over to Springfield Mill at Bloomfield Farm (right across Northwestern Avenue from the main entrance to Morris Arboretum) last week and check out the turbine first hand.  It was really interesting learning about the rich history of Springfield Mill, its economical importance in this area at the turn of the century and the mechanical engineering that allowed work to be accomplished without electricity.  It is very hard for some people to conceive of life without TV, internet and much more so electricity!

This picture, taken from above shows the turbine at the bottom and then the gears that transfer the movement into the mill to power the operation.
From this angle, you can see at the top where a gear would transfer energy into the mill (the wooden, blue painted structure).
The inside of the mill is in terrific condition, considering it is more than 150 years old.  Renovations are also currently under operation to restore the mill.  Group tours of the mill can now be scheduled - check our website ( or call Lisa Bailey (215.247.5777 x157).

Monday, September 13, 2010

Birding at the Morris Arboretum

Songbirds are migrating through Morris Arboretum and lots of bird watching classes are coming up.  Of course you can always come out to the Arboretum with binoculars in hand and check out the birds all by yourself (especially in the natural wetlands area).  For more informative classes (with birding experts) and fun with other birders, here are some of the classes that you can join us for…

Birding in the Diverse Habitats of the Morris Arboretum 
Friday, September 24 and Saturday, October 9, 2010  8 am—11 am
Join Ruth and explore some of the hotspots for birds at the Morris Arboretum. We will visit the Arboretum’s natural areas including wetlands, meadows, and the woodlands along the Wissahickon Creek. These areas provide great habitat for a wide variety of birds year-round. We will see resident birds as well as migrating raptors and warblers. We will also have a chance to look for birds on the tree canopy, Out on a Limb, which will provide us with a great vantage point for viewing birds at treetop level. These sessions are for beginning or experienced bird watchers.

Birding at Manasquan (NJ) Reservoir 
Tuesday September 21, 2010 7:45 am—4 pm

Manasquan Reservoir and Park, located in Monmouth County, New Jersey, is an environmental jewel and home to over 200 bird species. The 1,200-acre park provides a variety of habitats including woods and wetlands that are great for bird watching. Great blue herons, ospreys, and double-crested cormorants can be found there. We will also be on the lookout for migrating warblers and raptors. The Reservoir, which boasts a large and varied fish population, is the best site for bald eagles in Monmouth County.

Birding Adventure in Ithaca, New York  
Sunday, Monday and Tuesday, September 26, 27 and 28, 2010
We will head north for a birding adventure in Ithaca, New York, located at the base of beautiful Lake Cayuga. Our three-day visit has a variety of stops including the Montezuma Wildlife Refuge. This 7,000-acre refuge, situated in the middle of one of the most active flight lanes in the Atlantic flyway, provides resting, feeding, and nesting habitat for waterfowl and other migratory birds. We will also explore Sapsucker Woods, a 230-acre sanctuary where more than 200 bird species have been recorded. This sanctuary encompasses forests, ponds, ferny swamps, and abundant wildlife, and the visitor’s center features an observatory with telescopes, bird feeders, and interactive exhibits. Other stops on our trip include Robert Treman State Park, with a rugged gorge that features beautiful cascading waterfalls, and Cornell Plantations, which contains a wide range of native and cultivated varieties of trees and shrubs.

Costa Rica Birding Adventure
February 3—13, 2011
Join us for 10 days and 11 nights of birding in beautiful Costa Rica. We will have comfortable accommodations, our own bus, and expert guides who will make the trip interesting and a lot of fun. We will visit Lankester Botanical Gardens that has a world class collection of nearly a thousand varieties of plants, many of them orchids that are displayed at eye level. We will visit Alexander Skutch’s "Los Cusingos" Bird Sanctuary. This sanctuary was the home of botanist and ornithologist Alexander F. Skutch who studied birds extensively and wrote many books on bird behavior. Los Esquinas Rainforest Lodge will be another stop. Hidden in the jungle of remote Piedras Blancas National Park, the lodge is surrounded by thousands of acres of untouched wilderness. It is a retreat for nature lovers wishing to experience the sounds and sights of a tropical rainforest in a tranquil, undisturbed atmosphere. The Wilson Botanical Gardens in Las Cruces, a garden that specializes in tropical ecology, will be another stop. We will finish with three days at Savegre. This cloud forest is a paradise for birdwatchers with over 170 species of birds including the spectacular resplendent quetzal.

Friday, September 10, 2010

It is time for the annual Scarecrow Design Contest at Morris Arboretum!

Unleash the creativity inside you...

You are invited to participate in our third annual Scarecrow Design contest!   Enter the Morris Arboretum Scarecrow Design contest and have your designer scarecrow displayed along the Oak Allée. All entries will be displayed on the “Scarecrow Walk” at Morris Arboretum from Saturday, October 2nd (the day before our popular Fall Festival) through Sunday, October 17th.

We will provide the frame, hay, burlap and twine and the rest is up to you!

Registration deadline | Friday, September 17th
Scarecrow delivery date | Friday, October 1st, delivered to Morris Arboretum
Space is limited to 30 Scarecrows and this popular contest fills quickly, so get your entry in early!

Check out our website here.

Scarecrow winners from last year:
We had lots of really great entrants last year!  Here are the top three:

 First Place: TuTu Pretty

Second Place: Edwin D. Day

Third Place: Spongebob Squarepants


Morris Arboretum Interns visit the High Line in New York City

Yesterday the interns went on a field trip to the High Line in New York City. The High Line is a New York City park built on an elevated 1930s freight rail structure on Manhattan’s West Side. Check out their website here: They met with Patrick Cullina, the Vice President of Horticulture and Park Operations. They had a great tour of the plants, history and challenges of the park.

Here are a few pictures from the visit:

Meet the New Interns:

In June, a new group of interns were welcomed to the Morris Arboretum for a year of learning on the job, while gaining practical experience in garden management.

The interns for 2010-2011 are (pictured above left to right):
Sara Levin, The McLean Contributionship Endowed Education Intern, University of Washington
C.J. Catani, The Alice and J. Liddon Pennock Horticulture Intern, Temple University - Ambler
Rebecca Bakker, The Martha S. Miller Urban Forestry Intern, Temple University - Ambler
Shea Zwerver, Charles S. Holman Rose & Flower Garden Intern, Smith College
Bryan Thompson-Nowak, Walter W. Root Memorial Arborist Intern, Albright College
Teresa Trego, Eli Kirk Price Flora of Pennsylvania Intern, Temple University - Ambler
Danica Doroski, Martha J. Wallace Plant Propagation Intern, Bates College
Tracey Beerley, John J. Willaman & Martha Haas Valentine Plant Protection Intern, Lock Haven University
Grace Asperin, Hay Honey Farm Natural Lands Intern, University of Hawaii-Manoa

Friday, August 27, 2010

Sue Serio from Fox Philly Visits Garden Railway at Morris Arboretum

Sue Serio from Fox 20 news came out to the Morris Arboretum yesterday to shoot her weather forecast.  It was a great show and the forecast for the next several days indicates plenty of good weather ahead.  Sue walked through the Garden Railway that runs this summer until Labor Day and showed her audience the trains and the miniature buildings that make up this years 'American Roadside Attractions.'  All the buildings in the exhibit are made from all natural materials and make up American Roadside Attractions as well as famous buildings right here in Philadelphia.

Come and check out the Garden Railway before the summer ends for the exhibit on Labor Day.  More info here...

Check out the video with the link below.

Friday, August 6, 2010

Dance the Night Away!

And more than 900 people did just that at Morris Arboretum’s Summer Concert Series last Thursday night.  On stage for this XPN Kids Corner concert sponsored by WXPN 88.5FM was Steve Pullara and His Cool Beans Band (pictured here).  Needless to say, everyone had a rocking good time!  The final concert of the series is scheduled for August 12 at 6:30pm as Miss Amy’s Fitness Rock and Roll jumps on stage!

Find out more about the last concert this summer on our website!

Friday, July 16, 2010

Groovin' in the Garden

Last night, nearly 800 people attended the kickoff concert for Groovin’ in the Garden.  The Groovin’ in the Garden jazz concerts are presented by WRTI 90.1FM and are open to members and non-members of the Arboretum.  These popular concerts bring together the beauty of Morris Arboretum, the cool shade of a summer evening and the sounds of an exciting band for all who come.

Maureen Malloy, the jazz on-air personality from WRTI 90.1FM introduces To The Max

To The Max, a multi-faceted jazz group who have played for President Clinton and Governor Rendell, wowed listeners with their smooth jazz and versatile sounds.  Starting with a few instrumental numbers and then adding vocals, To The Max got people up and dancing as the sun set.  The concert was a huge success with everyone having a really great time relaxing with their friends and listening to jazz in Morris Arboretum’s beautiful Azalea Meadow garden.

To The Max drops the beat and shows off their vocal talent

Although this is the fifth year for the Morris Arboretum Summer Concerts, many of last night’s attendees were enjoying their first concert here.  Free beer tasting from 6-7pm, provided by Flourtown Beverage gave visitors a chance to try some different varieties of beer and have some fun, hanging out with friends before the concert got started. 

A number of U Penn students took advantage of the Free Penn Bus Trips program, sponsored by the Hohns Family Fund, designed to introduce Penn students to their official Arboretum.

Don’t miss the last Groovin’ in the Garden jazz concert this summer on July 22 with free beer tasting at 6 and Cintron, a wildly popular Latin Soul band, performing at 7:00.  The Summer Concert Series will wind down with two XPN Kids Corner concerts in August.  Check out Morris Arboretum’s website for more information on upcoming concerts.

Folks enjoying a chance to kick back and relax in the Azalea Meadow.

Wednesday, June 30, 2010

OOAL Birthday Celebration Video

Click on the link below to preview a video about the Out on a Limb Birthday Celebration happening at the Morris Arboretum this saturday.

Out on a Limb’s first birthday party on July 3rd from 11am-1pm!  Enjoy free birthday cake starting at 12:00 pm, and a giveaway from Bredenbecks Bakery in Chestnut Hill, while supplies last.  

For more details visit:

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Tree Adventure Featured on Interior Design magazine

Tree Adventure and the wonderful architects at Metcalfe Architecture and Design are praised again in this article in the prominent national publication, Interior Design. Out On a Limb has been an outstanding exhibit here in the last year and has drawn new visitors and members alike in first-class style.  It is hard to believe but Out on a Limb has been open for almost a full year now!  In celebration, we are throwing a birthday party for Out on a Limb this Saturday, July 3rd.  Check out the details here.