With 650 protected acres of beautiful woodland, Tyler Arboretum is a delight for nature lovers, birders, botanists and anyone who wants to rediscover the natural world.
The arboretum is in Media, Pennsylvania, a 30-minute drive west from Philadelphia in Delaware County. Tyler Arboretum offers groups seasonally changing gardens, stands of towering trees, 17 miles of hiking trails and historic buildings.
Dating to 1681, making it one of the oldest public gardens in the United States, and home to eight generations of one family, Tyler Arboretum connects visitors to the region’s rich culture and history while preserving, developing, sharing and celebrating Pennsylvania’s horticultural heritage.
“Tyler is able to offer a great variety of experiences to visitors of all ages,” said Julia Lo Ehrhardt, director of community engagement. “Children are attracted to our treehouses, meadows, streams, Butterfly House and gardens. Adults can immerse themselves in the historic buildings and trees, hiking trails, scenic route and gardens. Many visitors spend hours in the edible garden alone, while others enjoy the cool shade of our forests on a hot summer’s day. In the heat of the summer, let the guides in our Butterfly House show you some amazing creatures — and you just might witness a butterfly emerging from its chrysalis.”
Tyler Arboretum’s focus on conservation projects draws the attention of many visitors as they visit its American Chestnut Orchard, Serpentine Barrens and Bluebird Monitoring program firsthand.
The arboretum offers nature-based tours showcasing champion and historic trees, spring ephemerals, meadows, trails, gardens (edible, pollinator and fragrant) and woodlands. Customized tours are available with a few weeks’ notice. Programs include many topics such as ecological gardening, herb gardening, bird walks, wildflower walks, tree studies and seasonal activities.
People most often speak of the feelings they experience while visiting Tyler Arboretum, Ehrhardt said. “They can glimpse into the past, be amazed by towering trees on land that is untouched by development and get a feeling of peace while taking inspiration home with them,” she said.
Tours that showcase the land, trees, collections and trails resonate well while providing the opportunity to see historic plants and trees not often found in this area such as a Giant Sequoia planted nearly 180 years ago.
Historically, Tyler’s horticultural displays date from the mid-1800s, when Minshall and Jacob Painter (of the sixth generation) started an arboretum on their family farm. Today these historic trees tower over the landscape, creating a sense of awe and inspiration.
In the mid-1900s, collections of beautiful flowering trees and shrubs were added to Tyler’s plantings, which to this day create spectacular displays from spring through and until the middle of fall. Wildflowers and other native plants are featured throughout Tyler’s core area, along with herb and vegetable displays that entice home gardeners to grow their own fresh healthy food.
The arboretum allocates about 10 visitors to one docent. About 60 people can be accommodated at one time with one month’s notice. Larger groups can be accommodated with additional notice.
Groups are advised to spend a minimum of two hours at the arboretum and ideally more. Tyler Arboretum can arrange box lunches for a relaxing break before groups head out to see more. With advance notice, a group may be able to have lunch in the historic 1833 Pennsylvania Bank Barn.
Motorcoaches have a large parking area.
Ehrhardt said she hopes after a visit to the arboretum people are amazed, that they learn about and experience nature in a new way and have experiences they will remember for a long time. “As they leave, people tell us they are already planning their next trip to Tyler,” she said.