I miss family gatherings. I remember all of the uncles and aunts with cousins gathered at Nai nai (maternal grandmother in my dialect) and Gong gong (maternal grandfather) for our weekly dinners. One of my uncles always tried to sneak food from the kitchen and inevitably got scolded by his mother, sister or wife. There would be a great flurry of last-minute clanging of woks and utensils, and, then magically, everything would grind to a halt. Nai nai announced dinner. Everyone immediately moved into position, and Nai nai sat down last. There were always stories told at the table, even after dinner, over hot tea and peanuts. Some I’ve heard many times, and some were new versions to me, told by another person with another point of view. Sometimes I would even hear a new story altogether. When the story was good, everyone would smile in remembrance, laugh at a kin’s folly, or cry over their loss. That’s how we kept the family stories alive and kept our clan together over continents, oceans, and time.

A story is not just about what has happened. A good story informs us of the future and what may happen if we choose different paths. At Tyler, our stories are all around us — in the historic buildings, in the plant collections, and in the land itself. We share our stories through our tour program. Led by docents (educational guides), we open doors to our woods, meadows, gardens, historic areas, new projects, and much more. Like listening to our family stories, each tour is different, reflecting the unique perspective of each docent.

Dan O’Keefe in the Chestnut Orchard

Free Tours:

Here’s a list of tours that are always free to Members or visitors with a member guest pass. Most are weekly. Tours are a great way to get around the Arboretum and see new parts of Tyler with friends. Search our calendar for more information on each tour, to see when the next one is scheduled, and to sign up:

Weekend Wildflower Walk | Weekday Bird Walks | Friday Warm-Up Hikes | Trail Hike with the Chester County Trail Club (monthly) 

Specialty Tours:

For a nominal fee of $5 for members, we also have specialized tours. These tours help participants take a deep-dive into our 650 acres and our great works. The following are seasonal. Register as soon as they are available, for they are around for a limited time and will not be held again until the following year:

What Lives in the Pond? | Richard’s Rambles | Docent-Guided Meadow Tours | Docent-Guided Butterfly Tours | Pink Hill Tour – Tyler’s Serpentine Barren | Painter History Tour | American Chestnut Tour | A Celebration of Trees | Blue Trail Tour | Bluebird Nesting Box Tour | Butterfly House Guided Tour


Pink Hill Serpentine Barren

Group Tours to Book:

Would you like to have your friends, co-workers, and family join us on a particular tour topic for a date and time of your choosing? It’s easy! Access the full information, including fees, here. We’ve got a great list of tours to choose from:.

Spring Glory Tour

Woodland Wildflower Tour

Summer Garden Essentials Tour

From Woodlands to Meadow

Fall is for Foliage and Fruit

Historic Painter Tour

Champion Trees Tour

Not seeing what you like? Contact Nancy Heinbaugh by clicking here to craft a tour just for your group!

Spring in the Native Woodland Walk

We become closer when we hear and participate in the stories all around us — those told by family and friends, those that explore the history we share, or those that teach us about the land around us. Our Docent Ambassadors offer these tours to help visitors become part of the story of Tyler. Through them, you can understand what our stormwater project is about and how climate change affects Tyler now and into the future. You can learn how Tyler is adapting by growing more resilient trees, like the swamp white oak and the swamp magnolia. In Lucille’s Garden, you can discover more about our planting theme for 2022: ” “Color is Life.” Our colorful vegetables reflect the diversity of cultures and climates we all come from.

As a long-time member, you may say that you know all there is at Tyler. You’ve seen every hill and dale. I say it’s like spending time with your family and friends; there is always something more to discover and to love.