Penn State’s Arboretum: A Must-See Destination in Happy Valley

Clematis from Penn State's Arboretum

The next time you’re in Happy Valley, make sure you spend a few minutes at The Arboretum at Penn State. Offering several strolling gardens and walkways, and filled with many varieties of flowers, shrubs, and trees, it’s a must-see stop at Penn State.

I recently visited the Arboretum; you can see photos of some of the beautiful scenery on the World Campus Flickr page (and, you can see more photos on the Arboretum website).

A quick history of the Arboretum

Margery Enes Smith Soaring Waters

After Penn State received a $10-million donation from alumnus Charles H. “Skip” Smith in 2007, construction began on the Arboretum. Phase I of the facility, known as the H.O. Smith Botanic Gardens, opened in April 2010 and is home to more than 17,000 plants representing 700 species.

The 370-acre Arboretum boasts more than a mile of hiking trails in addition to its Rose and Fragrance Garden, Oasis Garden with Lotus Pool, Pollinators’ Garden, Annual and Perennial Display Garden, Event Lawn, and Overlook Pavilion (where people host public and private events).

(If you’re interested in a more detailed history of the Arboretum, you can read on the Arboretum’s website that the idea of cultivating a diversity of flowers and plants dates back to the 1850s!)

Advocates for the environment

Several Arboretum projects focus on better understanding how plants interact with one another and how human activity impacts plants:

  • A restoration initiative is looking at ways to protect species of native plants that are endangered by the rapid expansion of plants that are commonly used as hedges (such as honeysuckle).
  • The Arboretum also has an Air Quality Learning and Demonstration Center, where you can read about the effects of air pollution on certain plants.

You can read more about the Arboretum’s restoration initiatives in a past Arboretum newsletter.

Don’t miss it, the next time you’re in town

Water lily with lotus leaf from Penn State's Arboretum

Open dawn to dusk, and free to the public, the Arboretum is a great new landmark on Penn State’s University Park campus. It is located at the intersection of Bigler Road and Park Avenue. The next time you’re in the area, be sure to check it out!

If you want to stay up-to-date with new developments at the Arboretum, you can sign up for their mailing list on their website or email Kate Reeder, event and marketing coordinator at the Arboretum.

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