Monday, May 20, 2024

The Morris Arboretum and Gardens at the University of Pennsylvania

Today I'm returning to the gardens I visited in Pennsylvania last September as part of the Fling, I still have so many to share with you!

Andrew and I arrived in the Philadelphia area a few days before the Fling officially kicked off, so I was able to visit the Morris Arboretum & Gardens, which was not part of the Fling itinerary.

I knew of this garden because I'd watched a Hardy Fern Foundation webinar hosted by Kyra Matin (propagator at the garden) as she toured attendees through the garden's fernery. I'll cover the fernery later in the week, today we'll be touring the rest of the garden, which was a great first stop for my whirlwind visit to "America's Garden Capital".

This is the view after you enter the garden and drive up to the parking area. As with all of the Pennsylvania area it was so very very green!

...and old! This is the building that now serves as the arboretum's George D. Widener Visitor Center, it first served as the gardener's cottage, carriage house and stables—built by Theophilus P. Chandler, Jr. in 1888.

Abelia chinensis—commonly known as Chinese abelia, a species in the honeysuckle family—was in lush bloom near the visitor center.

Their "Out on a Limb" tree canopy walk was fun..."a bird’s eye view of the forest from 50 feet up".

The Squirrel Scramble; "a huge hammock-like net where you can look down to the ground far below through the rope netting". No, I did not partake of the Squirrel Scramble.

Onward, to the Rose Garden, which really was much more than just a rose garden...

I was torn between using this photo which showed the whole charming corner...

And this one that was cropped to remove the green rods with chain to keep people out of the fountain.

Fabulous dark foliage, maybe a hibiscus? *It's black cotton plant, Gossypium herbaceum ‘Nigra’, thanks Roger for the name!*

A bud...

These were fun, although I can't imagine moving them out in the spring and back in each autumn.

Echium pom-poms.

See, so much more than roses!

Here's where we jump ahead in my visit, skipping over the hour and a half I spent with the ferns. You'll see all that later, but now we're on the other side of the garden, where I used the restroom, and appreciated this painted wall.

So far as I can tell this part of the garden doesn't have a name, but I loved the structure.

As well as the planter boxes and plantings.

Although (sadly) the opuntia had been damaged. Hopefully by critters and not people.

The depiction of tree roots stopped me in my tracks.

Then I read the signage. It's always a shock to see just how shallow tree roots are, and how far they travel.

The Pennock Flower Walk...

Senna didymobotrya, aka popcorn cassia 

A bit short (and wide) to be called a rill, but I loved it just the same.

The Orange Balustrade...

This structure immediately reminded me of part of the "Out on a Limb" tree canopy walk. I was going to suggest you page back up to that photo, but instead...

Here it is again. Coincidence?

Now that's a rill! 

This final view reminded me a little of Wave Hill in NYC. Come back on Wednesday for FERNS!

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  1. AnonymousMay 20, 2024

    The two Echium planters are inspired; an unusual and striking design.
    I also love their canopy walk (I love all canopy walks): a little scary but a lot of fun too.
    Looking forward to the fernery!

    1. I wish you could visit the fernery in person, it's so good!

  2. The 'out on a limb' walk is so cool. I like the Cassia leaves shot, looking forward to the ferns!

  3. Thanks for the introduction to this garden I've never heard of! It's wonderful. I adore the tree canopy walk (which has me wondering what my local botanic garden is creating if/when they finish the area currently under never-ending construction). I was a little surprised by the sight of the Echium 'Star of Madeira', mainly because I replaced mine when its branches got long and woody. The one at Morris has character, although I still can't imagine letting mine go that route.

    1. Yes my first thought when I saw that echium was "ewh, why haven't they tossed that?" because a leggy echium is not a desirable echium in my opinion (and evidently yours too). But the more I looked at it, the more I appreciated it. I imagine it's quite old, and really how often are you going to see this plant in Philly? Plus wouldn't you guess this is what mature plants might start to look like in nature?

  4. AnonymousMay 21, 2024

    You could sneak my ashes into one of those urns when I die and I’d be very happy to reside in such a lovely place.

    1. Hmm... makes me wonder if anyone has done that!

  5. Now that was a productive side trip. Morris Arboretum was definitely worth the visit. The greenish flowers of the Abelia are unusual - something I hadn't seen before. Ah, and how I miss fireflies. Nice to see so much lush greenery so late in the summer.

    1. So green in September! I hear so much about how the PNW is lush and green, we definitely don't have anything on the east.


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