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.

Tuesday, June 9, 2015

Paul’s Pick: Magnolia ‘Porcelain Dove’

A new hybrid selection of magnolia has caught the eye of Paul W. Meyer, The F. Otto Haas Executive Director of the Morris Arboretum. M. globosa x M. virginiana (Magnolia 'Porcelain Dove') is a semi evergreen shrub with large, fragrant flowers. It can be found on the magnolia slope, just downhill from the Widener center. Enjoy!

Friday, June 5, 2015

Hug More, Climb Less

The Arboretum’s beloved Katsura tree is renowned for its sweet, cotton candy-like aroma in summer.

The Arboretum is a great place for both adults and children to learn about and interact with nature, and most importantly, see some unique and beautiful trees. Kids are some of the Arboretum’s most energetic visitors. They have fun running through acres of open meadows or rolling down the hills. Some also like to climb the trees.

Climbing a tree is no doubt one of the great pastimes of childhood. Unfortunately though, not all trees are meant to be climbed, especially those at the Morris Arboretum. Most people don’t realize that the Arboretum is actually a living museum, and each of its trees is part of a very valuable collection. Many of the Morris Arboretum’s trees are some of the oldest and rarest of their kind – some are even current or former state champions. Climbing these trees, as well as the others in the garden, can stress them or even break their limbs, and can damage their bark (which acts like the trees “skin”), leaving them vulnerable to pests and diseases.

Climbing these trees, as well as the others in the garden, can stress them or even break their limbs, and can damage their bark (which acts like the trees “skin”), leaving them vulnerable to pests and diseases.

There are many ways to enjoy the trees at the Morris Arboretum without climbing them. Trees provide us with plentiful shade from the hot summer sun. On your next visit, find a big tree, sit underneath, and really notice how the temperature changes under the shade of the tree. Observe the shapes and patterns of the leaves on different trees, and look for flowers on summer-blooming varieties. Stop and take in the scent of the trees. The Arboretum’s beloved Katsura tree is renowned for its sweet, cotton candy-like aroma in summer. Take a few minutes to watch the birds, squirrels and other animals that call the trees their home.

Trees give us so many gifts and ask for little in return – all they want is some water, sun, and a bit of love. So be a “tree hugger,” not a climber on your next visit.  And make sure to find your favorite tree at the Arboretum and give it a hug!

Thursday, June 4, 2015

Weekend Picks: June in Bloom

This weekend, it's all about the June blooms! The gardens are looking lush and full of color, especially our Rose Garden. The Rose Garden, created in 1888, is one of the oldest features of the estate and was originally a flower garden with a marble fountain as a central feature, with four quadrants containing boxed-edged walks in between. The addition of the summer house and Italianate balustrades 20 years later made this a truly special garden feature.

Summer house seen in the far corner of the rose garden. Photo: Paul W. Meyer

Rose Garden with Pansies, Urn and Pavilion circa 1924. Photo: Gleason, Herbert W. / Morris Arboretum Archives
Giant allium (seen here, purple flowers) add whimsy to the landscape. Photo: Paul W. Meyer

Photo: Stephanie McNabb

Photo: Stephanie McNabb