Pay as you wish. Open weekends, 11am – 4pm, from May to September 2.
The Barnes Arboretum
Just eight miles from our Philadelphia campus, you’ll find the Barnes Arboretum, home to our living collection and horticulture school. From May to September 2, visitors are invited to explore the grounds and learn about our rare plants and breathtaking blooms.
In 1922, when Dr. Barnes and his wife, Laura Leggett Barnes, bought the Merion property, it already housed a collection of specimen trees that its previous owner, Captain Joseph Lapsley Wilson, had started assembling in the 1880s. The site became the home of the Barnes Foundation, and Wilson stayed on as the first director of its arboretum.
While Dr. Barnes concentrated on the art collection, Laura Barnes devoted herself to the arboretum. Her legacy lives on in the beauty of the landscape and in the horticulture school that she founded in 1940.
The 12-acre arboretum is astonishingly diverse for its size, with more than 2,500 varieties of woody and herbaceous plants, many rare. The peony and lilac collections date from the early 1900s and are important genetic resources for conservation and study. An herbarium started in 1968 by John Fogg, a longtime instructor at the arboretum school and director after Mrs. Barnes, contains more than 10,000 specimens that supplement teaching and research.
Highlights of the Arboretum
Laura L. Barnes Fern Dell
Medicinal Plant Garden
National Hosta Display Garden
Plan a Visit
Open to the public from May to September 2, the Barnes Arboretum is located at 300 N. Latch's Lane in Merion, PA 19066. Parking is free. Get directions.
For more information, call 215.278.7360.
Our three-year Horticulture Certificate Program offers a comprehensive approach to the science and methods of horticulture and design. Coursework emphasizes aesthetics and the practical application of knowledge. The arboretum and its greenhouse serve as the program’s laboratories.
We also offer a number of hands-on workshops for amateur gardeners and horticultural enthusiasts.
Call 215.278.7360 for more information on classes.
Our Horticulture Library is home to hundreds of books and guides relevant to our living collections and horticultural programs. The library is open to the public by appointment; call 215.278.7280 to request a visit.
About Laura Barnes
If Albert Barnes expressed his passion through art appreciation, his wife, Laura, expressed hers through the cultivation of beautiful plants.
The daughter of a wealthy family from Brooklyn, Laura Leggett married Dr. Albert C. Barnes in 1901. Though the origin of her interest in horticulture is unknown, there is evidence that she managed the gardens at Lauraston, the couple’s first home in Merion, Pennsylvania.
Laura Barnes became director of the arboretum in 1928, and in 1940 founded the Arboretum School, where she was also an instructor. Responsible for the acquisition of plants for the gardens, she corresponded and exchanged specimens with many other notable collections, including Harvard University’s Arnold Arboretum and the Brooklyn Botanic Garden.
She also maintained a personal library of horticulture books, which are now held in the Foundation’s rare books collection.