Tyler Arboretum Front Sign 2200pxSet among 650 acres of rolling meadows and pristine woodlands in Media, Pennsylvania, Tyler Arboretum offers a setting not easily met by other Arboreta and botanical gardens. Here, Mother Nature’s talents set the stage for breathtaking beauty, brilliant butterfly-filled gardens, breezy towering trees, fragrant fields of wildflowers and centuries-old structures. The Painter Library, for example, is a small but unique repository of 18th and 19th century manuscripts, letters, documents and books. The grounds – near Philadelphia – also include a pinetum, a native woodland walk, and various flowering shrub and tree collections. One of the oldest arboreta in the northeastern United States, Tyler Arboretum owns tons of renowned plant collections, champion trees, two historic buildings, and endless miles of hiking trails through wetlands, woodlands and meadows.Tyler’s Collections provide exquisite backdrops every season of the year. In spring, the perfume of hundreds of lilacs, magnolias and rhododendrons fill the air, while the herb-filled Fragrant Garden comes to life in the summer sunshine. By autumn, the brightly hued turning leaves of ages-old trees steal the show. The beauty continues into winter with snow-covered branches of state-champion conifers and hollies.

Tyler also boasts of over 20 miles of trails through pristine woodlands. As you follow the trails, watch for trees marked with the blue labels: at 150 years old, these 23 trees are some of the oldest and/or largest trees in Pennsylvania. It is not uncommon for these “Painter trees,” the real, elderly stars of the Tyler Arboretum, to reach 150 years of age.

Tyler’s children’s education programs are unmatched. Summer camps connect kids and nature as little tyke campers explore Tyler’s unique and diverse ecosystems. Enthusiastic, highly qualified staff and low student/teacher ratios facilitate fun, interactive learning with nature and stewardship projects, games, naturalist-led lessons, crafts and hikes. Kids can partake in anything from beetles, butterflies and buttercups seminars to summer camps highlighting water wonders and hands-on history. Perhaps the most popular children’s course going back the past few years is the “Fairies and Wizards” class! Wizards, fairies, gnomes and elves are everywhere at Tyler during the Summer “Nature’s Enchantment” exhibition. Little ones are invited to become actual certified fairies or wizards and even get some special training to do so!

The most popular visitor feature of late at Tyler is the Meadow Maze; aside from navigating your way through with the little ones, there are educational programs for both children and adults including butterfly and wildlife identification workshops, gardening classes, and insect programs. Schoolchildren in particular are frequent visitors on field trips to the Maze. (Read more about the Meadow Maze in the Top Ten list.)

Should you be visiting The Arboretum in Flagstaff anytime soon, and whether you have a whole weekend or just a Saturday afternoon, take along the following Top Ten Arboretum Features list. You can use it as a “to-do” or “to-see” list of sorts, and as an adjunct to any maps, brochures or information you receive upon entry. Don’t miss the following ten features whatever you do!

1. Stopford Family Meadow Maze

The arboretum’s first new exhibit in over 20 years, the Family Meadow Maze is riddled with fun for all ages. A popular special feature, Stopford guides visitors on a tour of native botanical life and is a classical four-ring labyrinth. Considered a meadow labyrinth inviting adventurers to solve the puzzle, along the paths and around the maze perimeter there are Discovery Stations that educate and entertain as visitors twist and turn through the maze’s paths. At Tyler’s highest point, Raptor Roost, patrons can view the maze from an elevated position as well as keep an eye out for migrating birds-of-prey.

2. The Magnolia Collection

Planting of the magnolia collection began in 1951, with the assistance of the Hill and Hollow Garden Club. Prized for their broad range of flower types, colors and fragrances, the magnolia collection includes important Asiatic, native and hybrid varieties including the late-blooming “Little Girl Hybrid” series, developed by the National Arboretum.

3. Native Woodland Walk

As land development continues at an alarming pace, woodland remnants are increasingly treasured both for their beauty and for the important role they play in the ecological health of the area. The multi-layered composition of a woodland creates a comforting sense of enclosure that isn’t found in other natural environments. Visit Tyler’s Native Woodland Walk, and note the distinct components of the woodland plant community: the majestic canopy trees; graceful under-story trees; sheltering thickets of shrubs; and drifts of ferns, wildflowers, and mosses that make up the ground layer. Visiting in different seasons will showcase the amazing changes that occur in woodlands: the exuberance of spring wildflowers; the soothing, green tapestries of summer; brilliant fall color; and the stark, architectural beauty of winter.

4. Lachford Hall

Lachford Hall underwent a transformation from a Pennsylvania farmhouse to its present appearance after John J. Tyler, and his wife were married 1881. With his mother’s approval, Tyler renovated Lachford Hall into a summer residence. The Tylers’ changes included removing a greenhouse on the western facade, adding a large cross gable to the front of the dwelling, rounding the tops of the upper floor windows, and stuccoing the exterior stone walls. The stucco was meant to “finish” the building so that the changes in windows and rooflines would be covered. The new building reflected the “Country Villa” style, a “romantic” style that called for a move away from symmetry and formality that noted earlier tastes. Evidence of renovations is easily spotted. Note the large stone threshold and how it is oversized in proportion to the entrance. The interior has been reconfigured numerous times, illustrated by details such as the current center hall plan and fireplace mantels. Earlier interior doors may also have been recycled during the Victorian “upgrades” with new hardware and sizing. With the introduction of interior plumbing and heating in the 20th century, Lachford Hall shows over 250 years of continuous use.

5. The Pond Exhibit

Tyler’s Pond is a popular spot to visit any time of the year. The unique wooden deck allows easy access to the edge of the water and serves as a perfect viewing spot to look at the variety of wildlife that call the Pond home. Enjoy the serenity of the space with its wooden benches and serene picnic areas for the family. Many animals and insects live in or near the Pond. As weather begins to warm in early spring, Tyler’s turtles re-emerge from hibernation. On warm days, painted turtles, red-eared sliders, and snapping turtles enjoy sunning themselves on logs! Kids revel in this and love to feed the ducks and other wildlife as well.

6. Pinetum Natural Area

The Pinetum is an imposing 85-acre collection of pines, spruces, hemlocks, firs, cedars, false cypresses, and larches. Conifer plants and seedlings donated by the Arnold, Morris, and Scott Arboreta in 1954 were planted then and still stand today, which is a resplendent sight. Trees in the pine family – including pines, spruces, firs, hemlocks, cedars, junipers, and arborvitae – were planted in groups of three to five of each species, and also still tower today.

7. The Ornamental Cherry Collection

The ornamental cherry collection was begun in 1951 with 45 plants, representing 23 species and varieties, most of which were donated by the Scott Foundation of Swarthmore College. These splendid Yoshino cherry trees planted along Painter Road make a dramatic display in spring.

8. Winter Survival Holiday Mini Camp for Kids

Kids: how would you survive the cold months? Discover survival skills used by a variety of different animals and insects to cope with wind, rain and snow. A day of nature exploration and fun is the perfect solution when your child has a day off! These easy-going days are filled with discovery, games, crafts, hikes and projects so engaging the kids won’t even know they’re learning. Mini-camp hours are 9:00 am – 3:00 pm.

9. Delco Road Runners 10K Trail Race

For 18 years, the annual Trail Race here has been presented by the Delco Road Runners Club. Runners of all speeds and abilities test themselves against a fast and challenging course – right through the heart of beautiful and historic Tyler Arboretum. The course features many elevation changes and four shallow creek crossings.

10. Adult Natural Studies Programs

From wildflower walks to birding field trips, get in touch with the natural world through a wide range of programs. Adults partake in daylong, hours long or even weekend long curriculum. The most popular classes teach wildflower botany, invasive plant removal, and using microscopes.

The perfect place for your wedding, bar mitzvah, birthday bash or Mother’s Day fete, Tyler has acres of open space and tons of banquet space to accommodate your event. Surrounded by the sights and sounds of nature, your special day will be one of exploration, discovery, and fun! For birthdays in particular, you can enlist the help of the Tyler team: enjoy a one-hour program or walk followed by a full hour of your own activities and refreshments in a private room. For weddings, the 650 acres of rolling meadows and pristine woodlands offer a setting unparalleled for natural beauty, historic charm and true romance!

The Arboretum is nestled in one of the most beautiful natural settings in western Pennsylvania. So check it out at 515 Painter Road in Media, which is about 40 miles west of Philly. For specific details on events, exhibits and special bookings, or if you want details on group tours or something else, call (610) 566-9134?.

Tyler Arboretum
515 Painter Rd
Media, PA 19063
(610) 566-9134