The Morris Arboretum

One of my classes consists of trips in and around the Philadelphia area. I’ll be writing about some places you may want to check out.

I imagined grandeur. I imagined myself surrounded by every flower in existence. I was going to walk into the Morris Arboretum and be greeted by kind British royalty offering me tea and escorting me to their secret garden.
I wasn’t. Instead, I got lost. I ended up on a street where the entrance was; however, in between the entrance and my car, were a couple of blocks and a gigantic mansion, which resided where the cross through should have been. I guess online directions are not from the god of maps. By the time I entered the arboretum, I had missed my make-believe tea party.

The Morris Arboretum, built by Quaker John Morris, was not the secret garden I had expected. It wasn’t cemented with violets, daisies, and orchids, but it certainly did not disappoint. There was a section known as the Medicine and Botanic Garden that was every bit as wonderful as my dreams. It consisted of a multitude of roses and solitude. It was my favorite part of the arboretum. It was also John’s wife Lydia’s favorite spot as well; she had a chair that overlooked her fantasy. That chair is now known as Lydia’s Seat.
What keeps the arboretum from becoming the secret garden is that it does not just celebrate flowers. It honors trees, strong and old, ferns, and architecture. Wandering around the grounds, I passed as Japanese water fountain, minutes after standing next to a Blue Atlas Cedar tree, native to Greece and Turkey. It was amazing to think that I was in Chestnut Hill, looking at the same thing someone in Athens was seeing.
While part of the mission is to educate people about plants worldwide, preservation is also key. Not only does the organization care for plants, it tries to create “improved” ones. According to tour guide Larry Godley, the Morris Arboretum is developing a disease-resistant elm tree. In the mid-twentieth century, the American elm trees caught Dutch elm disease and died. They hope that the upcoming trees will not face the same devastation. This was the most impressive information I heard. I never knew you could create disease-resistant trees! Least of all, did I know that something so ground-breaking was being attempted by an organization in the Philadelphia area. Why haven’t I heard of this on the news? If they can create disease resistant trees, can they use similar technology to create disease resistant people?

1 Comment so far

  1. Brady (unregistered) on November 8th, 2005 @ 9:45 am

    You forgot to mention they have really great turkey sandwiches!!!



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