Friday, October 11, 2013

Local Destination: The Scott Arboretum

Since 1929, the Scott Arboretum has been thrilling visitors with its 300 acres of breath-taking gardens, landscapes, and art which include over 4,000 different kinds of plants.  The Arboretum is uniquely located on the grounds of the private institution of Swarthmore College, and it was orginally built as a living memorial to Arthur Hoyt Scott from the class of 1895.  The Arboretum is supported in part by the membership group, the Associates of the Scott Arboretum, keeping admission free to the public.



Visitors are welcome the hours from dawn to dusk daily all year round.  Parking is available to the public at the Wister Education Center and Greenhouse off of College Ave.  After you have parked,  make sure you make a stop into the sustainable-designed Wister Center or the Arboretum Offices and pick up some maps and information to help you find your way.  We highly recommend the Intro Tour brochure for its comprehensive map for visitors who are not familiar with the campus.
 
At this point you can step outside and head literally right into the Arboretum.  The entire campus is included, so don't worry if you feel a little lost sometimes.  Swarthmore College is a handicapped accessible institution, so the Arboretum can be navigated with a wheelchair or stroller.  If you do manage to get yourself lost (as we did many times), just stop any of the friendly looking people (students, staff, gardeners, joggers, dog walkers, etc) for help, and you will soon be on your way again.
 
The Arboretum is home to 15 separate gardens and 10 permanent installations of art.  All of them are beautiful in their own ways, but four locations really stuck out to me personally during my visit.  One of the first places we stopped was the Dean Bond Rose Garden up the road from the Wister Center, drawn by the iron gates at its entrance.  Another area we really loved was the Magill Walk.  Leading to Parrish Hall, Magill Walk is hard to miss, flanked by giant oak trees.  Everytime we thought we were really, really lost, we would come around a tree or building and spot those rows of oaks and suddenly know exactly where we were on the map.  Near the tennis courts, we came across a giant tree stump that I just had to stop and take a picture of.  After consulting the Art in the Garden brochure we had picked up with everything else we could find in the Wister Center, we discovered the stump was actually a 350 year old Bender Oak and a temporary exhibit carved by local artist, Marty Long (temporary because it is natural and will eventually "return to the soil" as the brochure says).
 
Our hands-down, number one location at the Arboretum was the Scott Outdoor Amphitheater.  Located near the Lang Performing Arts Center, it is an incredible marriage of nature and structure.  The air seems to stand still and the trees take on an ancient mystical quality - as if Puck (A Midsummer Night's Dream) or Bilbo Baggins (The Hobbit) were going to step out from the woods at any moment.  Really. Go see for youserlf.
 
The Arboretum hosts various events throughout the year including free programs, lectures, and tours, festivals and holiday celebrations, excursions, and special events. Visit their website for a the full calendar and event descriptions.  Membership to the Arboretum is also available for discounts on events and classes, as well as a discount at certain local gardens and nurseries.
 
Scott Arboretum at Swarthmore College
500 College Ave
Swarthmore, PA 19081
 

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