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Morris Arboretum of the University of Pennsylvania

100 Northwestern Avenue
Philadelphia, PA

Phone: 215-247-5777

Statement of Purpose

Morris Arboretum of the University of Pennsylvania is an historic public garden and educational institution. Listed on the National Register of Historic Places, it is the official Arboretum of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania.

The Arboretum was founded in 1887 as "Compton," the private estate of John and Lydia T. Morris, brother and sister. These civic leaders and world travelers were avid collectors of artifacts, plants, and garden styles. In 1932, the University of Pennsylvania was entrusted to transform the Morris estate into a public garden and center for interdisciplinary research and education.

Highlights & Collections

Within its 92 public acres, thousands of rare and lovely woody plants, including many of Philadelphia's oldest, rarest, and largest trees, are set in a romantic Late Victorian landscape garden of winding paths, streams, and special garden areas. There are a variety of habitats, garden styles, and unusual features: an award-winning formal rose garden; an English landscape park with long vistas over rolling hills; a Victorian loggia with a hidden grotto; a ravine walk where shade-loving groundcovers are featured; Japanese gardens with rockwork; a swan pond, where a pair of Royal Swans produce their brood each year; and wild meadows and native woodlands.

Of particular interest is the newly-restored Hamilton Fernery, an elegant, small glasshouse devoted entirely to ferns. This Victorian gem is unique in North America, and within its graceful curved-glass structure, hundreds of ferns grow in lush profusion up and around a miniature rock mountain, and near a mountain grotto, waterfall, and rustic bridge.

Other special gardens and features include a diminutive rustic log cabin where Miss Lydia Morris enjoyed serving afternoon tea, a rock wall garden, summer flowering garden, herb garden, fountains and other architectural features that reflect the Victorian spirit of its founders.

Nearby: Woodmere Art Museum, historic homes in Germantown and Chestnut Hill, unique shops and restaurants in Chestnut Hill, Plymouth Meeting Mall.

Exhibits & Special Events

Annual Events: Call (215) 247-5777 for additional information

JANUARY: Tu B'Shevat. Saturday afternoon family fun to celebrate Israel's >New Year of Trees. Puppet show, tree-planting, activities.

APRIL: Arbor Day Celebration with tree-climbing demonstrations, tree-planting, and other TREErific activities. Live entertainment; educational and fun for the whole family.

MAY: Spring Plant Sale features many rare and unusual plants, expert advice.

Mothers Day with Morris Dancers. Groups of dancers from near and far welcome the spring with their lively traditional dance and music.

JUNE: Philadelphia Rose Show. Indoor show sponsored by the Philadelphia Rose Society; prize-winning roses on display. Stroll the Arboretum's formal Rose Garden.

Concert and Picnic. Bring a blanket and a picnic supper and enjoy an outdoor concert.

OCTOBER: Fall Festival with special theme. Enjoy traditional Fall crafts such as scarecrow-making and pumpkin painting.

SPRING and FALL: Classes are offered at the Arboretum on a variety of topics, for everyone from children to professionals. Classes vary in length, and are offered day and evening, weekdays and weekends. Call 247-5777 x 156 for a course brochure.

EVERY SATURDAY and SUNDAY guided tours of the arboretum are led by trained volunteers. Meet at 2:00 at the Education Center.

Annual Summer Exhibit: the Garden Railway Display.

The Garden Railway is an Arboretum exhibition to delight all ages. A miniature world is set in the splendor of a summer garden. Clever, whimsical models of 34 historic Philadelphia area buildings (including Independence Hall) are created using acorns, moss, bark, twigs and other natural materials in perfect scale replicas. Bustling, G scale trains circle the exhibit crossing a flowing stream and puffing across a giant, overhead trestle you can walk beneath. June 19 - September 19, 1999.


10 am to 4 pm daily, Monday through Sunday. Open until 5 pm on Saturdays and Sundays, April - October. Open year round except the last week of the year.

Admission & Directions:

Free to members and students, faculty and staff of the University of Pennsylvania.


Special guided tours for the public are held on Saturdays and Sundays year-round at 2 pm; other tours are available by reservation. Phone: (215) 247-5777

Located five miles from Exit 25 of the Pennsylvania Turnpike in the Chestnut Hill area of Philadelphia, at 100 Northwestern Avenue, between Germantown and Stenton Avenues.

From Pa. Turnpike: Take exit 25 (Norristown). Follow Germantown Pike east about four miles to Northwestern Avenue, and turn left. Entrance drive one-half mile on the right.

From Center City: Drive through Chestnut Hill, following detour signs at Hillcrest and Stenton to a left on Northwestern Avenue. Entrance drive is 200 yards on the left.

Key Personnel:

Paul Meyer, The F. Otto Haas Director

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