First I should probably apologise for not having anything up last week – I was planning to have the milk experiment done, but was delayed by a lack of pH strips. Then we took a trip to the Morris Arboretum, and I thought “Perfect! I’ll just upload all these gorgeous pictures!” … and then I lost the memory card …
That’s how I was going to start this post. But, by a strange and miraculous twist of fate, I found the memory card on my parent’s rug. So you do get to see them after all!
The Morris Arboretum is the preserved summer estate of John and Lydia Morris (brother and sister), the inheritors of an iron manufacturing company. It’s been part of the University of Pennsylvania since 1932.
The original property, bought in 1887, was apparently not well suited to the kind of garden you can visit there today. The soil was poor and drained too fast. It’s a testament to the dedication of the Morris family that they were able to make the impact they did.
The original intention, besides the incredible gardens, was to build a school and laboratory of horticulture and botany.
They shared a love of history and art, and established a tradition of placing sculpture in the garden that continues today. The Morrises were active in civic affairs and preservation, and believed in the power of education. It was their earnest hope to be judged “worthy stewards.”
Today the University of Pennsylvania fills that role.
It isn’t pictured, but there’s also a fernery on site. The fernery was designed by John Morris himself and is the only remaining freestanding Victorian fernery in North America. There are 523 varieties of ferns in this thing, and it’s about the size of my living room. The reason I don’t have photos is because my camera lens fogged up badly in the humidity. I did manage to get a few on my phone, which I put on the also honey Instagram (there’s a link at the top of the page).
One of the most interesting things in the Morris Arboretum is the parking lot! Sorry, I didn’t get a picture of that either. But seriously:
Morris Arboretum’s parking lot is a demonstration lot for sustainability. Installed 25 ago as one of the first of its kind, the parking lot has filtered into the earth about 31,863,304 gallons of precipitation from the Wissahickon watershed. This equates to a lifetime of drinking water for more than 1,000 of our neighbors downstream, or the annual tap water used by about 4,000 households, or one day’s average tap water use by 366,245 Philadelphians. The parking lot will be renewed and rededicated in the fall of 2015 so as to continue its sustainable attributes.
The Arboretum has several interesting events coming up. Next weekend is the Annual Plant Sale. It’s members only on May 11th and 12th but open to the public on Saturday the 13th.
Next month, on June 11th, there’s a STEAMpunk Expo, if you really want to get into the Victorian spirit.
It’s been named number 1 on a list of the 50 Most Stunning University Arboretums and Gardens. This is a pretty considerable achievement – it’s a worldwide list with some big hefty names. Incidentally, the list also includes the USF Botanical Gardens at number 49, which is in my hometown!
I’ll let you look at pictures now, but it’s really a gorgeous place with an enormous range of entertainment and things to do. It’s obviously a wedding and party venue, and they do plenty of events themselves. They also have booklet of classes you can take there, on everything from honey tasting to yoga to edible plants and art courses. My grandmother even bought me a membership! So I’ll be heading back soon.