In 1880, Joseph Lapsley Wilson, a Civil War veteran and railroad executive, purchased land in the Philadelphia suburb of Merion. Over the next 40 years, he planted more than 200 specimen trees on the grounds of the property. When Dr. Barnes and his wife Laura purchased the land in 1922 for the purpose of building the Barnes Foundation, Wilson stayed on to assist with the development of an arboretum.
In the Garden
Monkey-puzzle tree, dogwoods, lilacs, horsetails, winter jasmine, and coastal redwood: these are just a few of the rare and beautiful plants in the arboretum. Learn more about our living collections.
Whether you have a blossoming interest in botany or are simply looking to get your hands dirty, consider becoming an arboretum volunteer. Learn more.