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The Jenkins Arboretum in Devon, Penn. is a haven for nature. Located in the heart of Main Line Philadelphia, it’s splendid in any season; it’s blanketed in beauty in the summer, resplendent in the spring, covered in foliage in the fall, and even has winter blooms and activities for all ages. The 46-acre wonderland in Chester County serves as a public open-air recreational, educational, and environmental model for the appreciation and stewardship of nature. Every year visitors stroll the 1.2 miles of woodland paths in the Arboretum and leave with inspiration for their own gardens. People often feel humbled by the strength and beauty of nature here. Spirits are renewed and sustained by the tranquility offered in this botanical sanctuary.

The Arboretum showcases native trees and plants, including shrubs, rhododendrons, azaleas, laurel, blueberries, ferns and wildflowers, and is home to many varieties of wildlife, such as green herons, foxes, king fishers, red-tail hawks, owls, flying squirrels, turtles, and over 90 identified bird species. The facility offers miles of paved walkways through native woodland as well as comprehensive plant, shrub, and tree labels. Information for self-guided walking tours with maps is available at the Arboretum’s Education Center.

The mission of Jenkins Arboretum & Gardens is to preserve natural tranquil woodlands for community enjoyment, to showcase native plants and a world-class collection of rhododendrons and azaleas, and to promote environmental horticulture through learning, research and conservation. More than an environmental institution, the Arboretum has become an integral part of community life through educational initiatives, art and culture, and promotion of health-related activities such as horticulture, yoga, and walking. In addition, it’s simply beautiful how many different blooms are popping up during anytime of the year: everything from spring violets and poppies to winter snowdrops and aconite strut their stuff here.

There are also several enjoyable classes and workshops for people of all ages: a variety of educational activities and lectures, hands-on workshops, and botanical art classes with painting opportunities are available at the Arboretum for a fee. Classes range in coursework and one can partake in anything from painting and yoga to building bird houses and green greeting cards! There are also internships and fellowships available at Jenkins for students and adults.

In April of 2009, the Arboretum opened the John J. Willaman Education Center; a LEED gold certified “green” building that will serve as an activity hub for many years to come. With the introduction of this Center, Jenkins has become an environmental model for the appreciation and conservation of nature and open spaces in the community. By looking to the future of the world, the Arboretum is now heating and cooling with the use of geothermal wells, recycling rainwater for irrigation, and will soon be collecting energy with solar panels on our roof.

1. Woodland Garden

Jenkins Arboretum fosters several Pennsylvania rare and endangered species including monkshood, shooting star, and box huckleberry. The colors of maple-leaf viburnum, and Highbush blueberry, and the fruits of the strawberry bush provide interest in autumn and evergreens such as hollies and Christmas fern stand out in winter. Jenkins Arboretum & Gardens was developed on a tract of forested land and is now maintained as a woodland garden, showcasing a variety of native ferns and wildflowers. In spring, a prized collection of ephemerals emerges to provide the year’s first splash of color. From bloodroot and liverwort to trilliums and trout lilies, these fleeting beauties are a welcome sign of warmer weather ahead. With summer comes colorful flowering shrubs including blueberries, viburnum, Enkianthus and a world-class collection of azaleas and rhododendron.

2. Bog Garden

The bog is the Arboretum’s most recent garden addition and, while small, it offers an eclectic collection of plants. Some, like cranberry and sphagnum moss are quite common but others are more exotic. You’ll see carnivorous sundews, pitcher plants and butterwort, beautiful grass pink and ladies’ tresses orchids, and even the endangered swamp pink. Other bog plants include the Golden Club, Marsh Marigold and Lizard’s Tail.

3. Green Ribbon Native Plants Each year, the Arboretum staff and Horticulture Committee select three native plants (a tree, shrub, and a fern or wildflower) that thrive in this region and designate them as Green Ribbon Native Plant? selections. These plants represent the species that grow here at the Arboretum and would be beautiful in residential and commercial landscapes throughout southeastern Pennsylvania.

4. Rhododendron Collection

Spring is the peak season at Jenkins due in large part to an impressive collection of rhododendrons and azaleas. The Arboretum maintains a collection of over 5000 accessioned rhododendrons, azaleas and hybrids from around the world. There are also several natives including the rosebay rhododendron and Pinxter bloom, flame, and sweet azaleas. The blooming season is long starting in late March with purple and pink Korean azalea and ending in late July with the red-orange Plumleaf Azalea.

5. Wildflower Gardens

In addition to the two large wildflower beds at Jenkins, over a mile of the walkways are edged with gorgeous wildflowers, carefully tended to allow for an incredible diversity of plant species while maintaining a somewhat wild, naturalistic look. Nearly all native, these wildflowers come in all different shapes, colors and sizes. This diversity attracts birds, bees and insects of all kinds. With different flowers blooming at different times all through summer, there is always something new to see (and smell). From the exotic passionflowers and monkshood to the rare prickly pear and Cumberland rosemary, you’re sure to find something that sparks your interest.

6. Wind Through the Trees Exhibit

This is what happens when art meets science… Wind Through the Trees is an outdoor sculpture exhibition that graces 15 acres and involves works of art which incorporate sound, motion, or both, all propelled by nature! From October through June, 65 unique sculptures are displayed high amongst the trees, all around the pond, or scattered through the Jenkins woodland. As the Wind Through the Trees Sculpture exhibition is revealed through the changing seasons, Jenkins Arboretum & Gardens will celebrate its 35th anniversary in the spring of 2011.

7. The LEED Gold, John J. Willaman Education Center The Arboretum has long been an advocate of sustainable use of the earth’s resources and responsible environmental stewardship. This was made undeniably clear in April 2009 with the opening of the new John J. Willaman Education Center. Under the U.S. Green Building Council’s Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) program, the Education Center has earned a Gold designation, the second highest green building award. The new Education Center incorporates a roof-rainwater collection system for irrigation of the nursery and Green Ribbon native plant garden, geo-thermal HVAC system, and water-saving restroom fixtures. In addition, ground source heat pumps, tankless water heaters, dual-flush toilets and energy saving appliances significantly reduce energy and water consumption. The gull-wing roof was designed with louvers for winter solar gain and summer cooling. As many trees as possible were preserved around the building to add to the cooling effect in the summer. The positioning of the building optimizes exposure to the sun, allowing as much natural light as possible to flood the interior and take advantage of solar energy to help heat the building. Extensive windows allow for abundant natural light and excellent views of the woodland garden. This building is a true environmental example of green!

8. Full Moon Lunatic Stroll

Weather permitting, the Arboretum invites you to stroll the gardens by moonlight, guided by Arboretum staff. You’ll see the aforementioned outdoor sculptures and be bathed by the light of the moon! These amazing sculptures will dazzle you. Bring your flashlights and help illuminate the sculptures even more brightly. These three evenings promise to be magical for all ages. Choose from a child-friendly tour for the whole family, or an adults-only stroll. Enjoy refreshments in the John J. Willaman Education Center after your lunatic stroll by the light of the silvery moon! This late fall event is a popular event with locals and members of the Arboretum. Kids enjoy this for the hot cocoa with vanilla marshmallows served!

9. Invasive Plants of Pennsylvania Exhibit

Invasive plants are those that grow quickly and aggressively, spreading and displacing other plants. Invasives are usually introduced by people either accidentally or on purpose, into a region far from their native habitat. Recognition of the problem of invasive plants is growing, at the same time as damage to native ecosystems is mounting. Learn to identify invasive plants and understand the potential damage they can cause; it’s essential to stop their spread and protecting native vegetation in your own garden and yard.

10. Recommended Native Plants in PA Exhibit

Learn about then purchase commercially available native plant species that are suitable for planned landscapes in the City of Brotherly Love and all of Penn. Learn about local suppliers and businesses that sell native plants or seeds or provide professional landscape or consulting services in this state.

Jenkins Arboretum
631 Berwyn Baptist Rd
Devon, Pennsylvania 19333
(610) 647-8870

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