Historically, Tyler’s horticultural displays date from the mid-1800s, when Minshall and Jacob Painter started an arboretum on their family farm. Today these magnificent historic trees and shrubs tower over the landscape, creating a sense of awe and inspiration.
In the mid-1900s, 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.
You will find a 182-page list of the plants, trees, and shrubs on show here at Tyler here.
Between 1948 and 1968, Dr. John Caspar Wister (1887-1982) served as Tyler’s first director. Wister was a member of a prominent Philadelphia area family, which included the 18th century physician Caspar Wister, after whom the species Wisteria is named.
As director, Wister developed the concept of Tyler Arboretum as it is today, in that we are an organization that maintains both cultivated and natural areas. He planned and laid out our collections of cherries, lilacs, magnolias, rhododendrons, and crabapples, as well as the Pinetum and our trail system.
The early years of Dr. Wister’s time at Tyler were devoted to clearing areas intended for planting. In the early 1950s, Dr. Wister produced a plan of the “Wister Loop,” a circular trail linking the collections of lilacs, crabapples, cherries, and magnolias. In 1952 he described his vision: “The varieties were most carefully chosen, and are believed to be the finest in existence at the present time. Given five or ten years of good growth and a minimum of care, they should make this portion of the grounds a beauty spot unsurpassed in any public garden.”
We actively maintain over 17 miles of hiking trails that traverse through 550 acres of our uncultivated natural areas. The trails allow you to meander through meadows, wind your way through dense woodlands, and forge sparkling streams as you observe the diverse wildlife and historic ruins of centuries-old buildings.
Tyler’s trails offer challenges for all fitness levels as well as providing multiple points of interest (and rest) along the way. Once you’ve hiked some of these trails, you might want to begin combining them in different ways to create your own personal hiking experience. The seven trails include:
Lucille’s Edible Garden and Schoolhouse provides hands-on learning for all ages about healthy eating, healthy living, and sustaining healthy land – providing a hands-on experience to Tyler’s environmental science expertise. Situated in Tyler’s historic core, the garden provides an experiential gateway to the arboretum’s other attractions with easy access to the meadows, woodlands, pond, and stream.
Construction was complete on Lucille’s Edible Garden and Schoolhouse in March of 2019 and the first growing season of the garden began. There were several theme gardens planted within the main fenced garden: A Children’s Garden, A Kitchen Pantry garden, A Three Sisters Garden, A Culinary Herb Garden as well as the many production beds. A majority of the food produced was donated to the local Media Food Bank which is helping provide food to the underserved in our community.