Morris Arboretum

Morris Arboretum

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Sustainability at Morris Arboretum

Sustainability at Morris Arboretum

When the University of Pennsylvania launched its Climate Action Plan 2.0 in the fall of 2014, it increased its geographic footprint from the core academic campus, to more fully reflect the full range of the University’s built assets, incluing the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania, the Morris Arboretum, the New Bolton Center, and Penn’s leased space and real estate projects.

As part of the Climate Action Plan 2.0, Morris Arboretum is documenting the current state of its environmental sustainability efforts to institutionalize best practices and build upon past successes, including landscape management, horticulture, the construction and operation of a LEED Platinum building, academic programs and community outreach and engagement.

Morris Arboretum is committed to sustaining our natural resources. The 167-acre Arboretum property is a collection of landscape demonstrations exhibiting stewardship of different kinds of landscapes found throughout the metropolitan area.

Our Sustainability Achievements


Collection of Living Plants

More than 12,000 labeled plants of approximately 2,500 types are growing in the Arboretum’s living collection. These include representatives of the temperate floras of North America, Asia, and Europe. Learn More »


Horticulture Center Complex and Bloomfield Farm

Located across the street from the Arboretum’s public garden is Bloomfield Farm, showcasing sustainable demonstrations of the oldest and newest structures at Morris Arboretum

Platinum LEED designated Horticulture Center: This 20,840-square foot facility built in 2010 provides work space for the Arboretum’s horticulture, public programs, and facility staff The Arboretum is committed to “raising the bar” for itself as well as for the wider community; as such, the Horticulture Center demonstrates the highest level of sustainable practices, and has achieved the highest level of LEED® Certification: Platinum. Learn More »

Springfield Mills: Recently restored to working order, the Grist Mill offers visitors an insight into where food comes from, and management of water resources. Learn More »


Botanical Research Conservation

Since its inception as a public garden, the Morris Arboretum has served as a center for botanical research. We recognize the importance of understanding the dynamic nature of the flora and seek to gain insights into these changes through work in the field, laboratory, and at the computer. Learn More »


Horticultural Research and Plant Exploration

Morris Arboretum experts have been part of collaborative plant exploration programs with other arboreta to study plants throughout Asia and the U.S. Learn More »


Sustainable Parking Lot

Morris Arboretum’s parking lot is a demonstration lot for sustainability. Installed 25 years ago as one of the first of its kind, the parking lot has filtered into the earth about 31,863,304 gallons of precipitation from the Wissahickon watershed. This equates to a lifetime of drinking water for more than 1,000 of our neighbors downstream, or the annual tap water used by about 4,000 households, or one day’s average tap water use by 366,245 Philadelphians. The parking lot was renewed and rededicated in the fall of 2015 so as to continue its sustainable attributes.


Educational Programming

Youth programs like Growing Minds provide an introduction to the natural world. Youth who are connected to nature are more likely to be sustainable stewards in the future.

Professional and Continuing Education Programs: The Morris Arboretum offers a wide array of courses dedicated to the history, research, appreciation and preservation of natural landscapes, plants and animals, as well as classes for professional credit. Youth programs like the Growing Minds series provide an introduction to sustainability issues for children. Learn More »

Internship Program: The internship program provides hands-on experience and education that prepares interns for careers in public gardens and related fields. Morris Arboretum offers year-long, full-time accredited internships in nine different areas. Learn More »

Partners in Education: This program is collaboration between the Morris Arboretum and Title I Schools in Philadelphia to promote environmental awareness in K-12 grade students. Learn More »

Summer Adventure Camp: For youth ages 6-10, the Arboretum’s summer camp introduces children to the wonders of nature. Learn More »

Conferences and Symposiums

The Arboretum’s annual winter symposium on ecological landscape design brings together speakers from across the country to discuss environmental issues that relate to landscape design, including the use of native plants, restoration, and wildlife habitat creation. Learn More »

Woody Plant Conference features speakers on topics related to woody plants, from pest and disease problems to plant exploration and design. Learn More »


The Shop and Cafe

3 Star Certified Green Restaurant: Our café has met the environmental standards of the Green Restaurant Association, a national non-profit that has been greening restaurants since 1990. Learn More »

The Shop at Morris Arboretum is uniquely green, specializing in locally crafted goods, and recycled and repurposed items. Learn More »


Consulting Services

Morris Arboretum’s Urban Forestry Consultants are recognized tree care experts who are not only help to conserve our urban forests, but teach others to be stewards as well. Our clients are diverse, and include landscape architecture firms, educational institutions, businesses, professional organizations, and federal, state, local governments, and other institutions. Learn More »


Penn Outreach

Morris Arboretum is active in its outreach to Penn students including Penn Preceptorials, the ESCAPE program, and the Penn Tree Program. Learn More »



Out on a Limb – a Tree Adventure exhibit provides experiential environmental education unique to the mid-Atlantic region. Learn More »


Historic Preservation and Restoration

Morris Arboretum is a model for historic preservation and adaptive reuse. In preserving and restoring existing features at the Arboretum, we are modeling the best sustainable practices. Learn More »


Philly Bike Share Program

Morris Arboretum has been featured on the Bike Share billboard at 40th and Spruce near Penn’s Campus. Philadelphia continues to be one of the most bike-friendly cities in the country with the launch of its own bike sharing program, Indego. Launched in the spring of 2015, Indego allows visitors or members to rent bicycles from 70 stations located from the Delaware River, across the Schuylkill River, into West Philadelphia and from South Philadelphia to North Philadelphia, including Temple University’s main campus. Cyclists can walk up to any Indego station and check out bikes for quick trips around the city 24 hours a day, seven days a week. The quick and convenient system allows users to return their bike rental to the nearest station after their ride is complete.

Green Admission
Morris Arboretum offers half priced admission to anyone who visits the Arboretum without a car (Hike, Bike, or Septa).


Leaf Collection

During the 2016 collection season, approximately 445 tons of leaf material were recycled into mulch for residential garden use, resulting in a savings of $24,511 in disposal fees for the Arboretum.


Awards and Recognition

The Morris Arboretum has received numerous awards for its many sustainable efforts.

Out on a Limb - a Tree Adventure exhibit

  • Buildy Award 2015, Mid-Atlantic Association of Museums
  • Excellence in Exhibition Design 2010, American Association of Museums
  • Philadelphia Gold Medal for Design Excellence 2010, American Institute of Architects
  • Pennsylvania Architectural Excellence 2010, American Institute of Architects
  • Best of Philly Award 2010, Philadelphia Magazine
  • International 'Making Cities Liveable Green Places' Award 2010
  • Model of Excellence Award University of Pennsylvania 2010

Horticulture Center

  • American Architecture Award 2012, Chicago Anthenaeum
  • Land Development Award 2011, Montgomery County Planning Commission
  • Merit Award for Design Excellence and Sustainability Commendation 2011, American Institute of Architects


  • Henry Meigs Environmental Leadership Award (Ann Rhoads) 2014, Schuykill Center for Environmental Education
  • Liberty Hyde Bailey Award (Paul Meyer) 2013, American Horticultural Society
  • APGA Award of Merit (Paul Meyer) 2013, American Public Garden Association
  • Advocate of the Watershed Environmental Award (Timothy Block) 2013, Perkiomen Watershed Environmental Award

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Alerts & Updates

The Arboretum is open as usual. Click here for hours.

The Rose Garden will be closed for renovations starting on Monday, October 3, 2022 until Spring 2023.

Weather conditions may limit garden access to certain features even if the garden is open – please check the web site or call (215) 247-5777 for updates before visiting. Our visitors’ safety in the garden is our top priority. Therefore when inclement weather is predicted, we will make decisions about closing the garden accordingly.