The Arboretum At Penn State

Hi everyone,

For the second week in a row, I have new material! As I mentioned in last week’s article, we traveled to State College, Pennsylvania to visit The Eldest and the Son-in-Law. It was our first out-of-state trip and the first time we were in a house other than our own since the pandemic began. So for all of us it was a big deal. We are all fully vaccinated and were comfortable with our week-long stay.

One of the main purposes for our trip was to assist The Eldest and the Son-in-Law put the finishing touches on their recently completed re-landscaped yard. My Traveling Partner is an avid flower gardener having learned through years of trial and error. My supporting role is vegetable gardening, trees and shrubs, lawn care, and landscaping ideas. Those usually turn into more work for her and less for me! Together, we make a good team. And we get good feedback from the folks that walk by our house during the warm weather months. Some walk away with plant or two to try in their yard!

On the first day of our visit to State College, we paid a visit to The Arboretum At Penn State. Our mission was to get ideas for plant materials that could be incorporated into a home garden.

Of particular interest for The Eldest is the development of a pollinator garden. As part of a service project of her Rotary Club, she spent the previous day with thirty-five other volunteers, setting 7000 plants in the Arboretum’s new three acre pollinator and bird garden. Her home pollinator garden is small but every bit helps pollinators thrive. 

Land for The Arboretum At Penn State was set aside in 1914. The lack of public funds prevented the establishment of a fully functioning arboretum until it was included in the University’s Master Plan in 1999. Funding was still a problem until an alumnus stepped forward with a $10 million gift to get private fundraising off the ground (pun intended!). As the gardens developed since then, more and more visitors come to walk and relax in the well designed gardens. On the day of our visit, we saw a number of other groups causally strolling along the paths and admiring the beauty of the many spring flowers.

Visitors were most evident in the Childhood’s Gate Children’s Garden. Designed for visitors from ages three to twelve, this garden provides a space for kids young and old to discover the natural world. This resting bison is an example of the things that kids can see and do in this garden.

On the nearby Overlook Pavilion Terrace is a three-dimensional “map” of the Spring Creek Watershed. State College, Penn State and surrounding communities lie within this watershed. The Ridge and Valley Sculpture accumulates water in the rivers, streams and dams showing the dynamics of the water resources. I found it quite ingenious and interesting. 

On our walk through the gardens, we came across this sign about Mount Nittany. Peeking through the trees, we could see the mountain off in the distance. Penn State lies at the base of Mount Nittany and it’s mascot is the Nittany Lion. Mount Nittany is owned by the Mount Nittany Conservatory whose mission is to preserve the revered mountain from private development. It features hiking trails and scenic views. Visitors can climb to the summit to see the surrounding terrain. Check out the full story of Mount Whitney by click here

Walking through the gardens, we noted the flowers in bloom and the many plants just beginning their summer show. These pansies put on quite a display of color and form.

The fountain featured in the photos below is called Soaring Waters. It’s surrounded by benches for resting and enjoying the soothing sound of rushing water.

We got a lot of good gardening and landscaping ideas during our walk around the Arboretum. It was a pleasant beginning to our stay. By the end of the week, my Traveling Partner, The Eldest, and the Son-in-Law planted dozens of flowers, grasses, and shrubs. They thinned some plants, set them on the curb and by the next morning they were gone. My job was to drive the Red Rover to greenhouses, garden center, the hardware store, and Lowe’s. I did a little heavy lifting and offered advice only when asked! I also contributed a couple of bird houses to compliment the pollinator garden. Let the pollination begin!

Until next week, happy travels!