The Dorrance H. Hamilton Fernery is the only remaining freestanding Victorian fernery in North America. Originally built in 1899 under the supervision of John Morris, the fernery stands today as a historical time piece, documenting the British obsession with ferns and glasshouses during the Victorian era. The building was constructed using locally mined stone and utilized cutting edge technology in glass cutting, steam heating, and architectural elements.
In the century following the original construction, the fernery slowly fell into disrepair, with several small renovation projects to protect it from destruction. Finally in 1994 the fernery was fully restored to its original grandeur with a gracious donation from board member Dorrance H. Hamilton and other contributors who responded to a major matching grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities. This $1.2 million renovation included restoring the roof to the original curvature, replacing and updating the heating and electrical systems, installing an advanced climate control system, and restoring the waterfall, ponds and stone walls. The blue flagstone plaza was also installed during this project to welcome visitors, and provide a shaded relaxing place to stop and enjoy the arboretum.
Nestled in a curve of land below the rose garden, the fernery has become an iconic part of the Morris Arboretum. Its glittering rooftop welcoming visitors into a peaceful space filled with ferns, trickling waterfalls and reflecting pools. A wonderful place to explore in all seasons.
A tree is down blocking our main path between Out on a Limb and the Rose Garden. Guests must use the path behind the Visitor Center to access the Arboretum. This path is steep and may be difficult for guests with wheelchairs or strollers.
Our system is having an issue recognizing memberships at this time. We are working as quickly as possible to resolve the issue.
All guests, including members, are required to reserve advance tickets for admission. Parking is included with your advance ticket.
Guests are not required to wear face coverings outdoors, but face coverings must always be worn indoors.
Unfortunately, Out on a Limb will be closed on Wednesday, January 29th through Friday, January 31, 2020 due to scheduled maintenance.
The Garden Railway will not be operational from 2:00 PM Friday (July 19) through the weekend (July 20-21). The trains will open for normal operation on Monday, July 22nd. Our Train Master reported that the trains will not operate in the excessive heat, citing electrical, track and rolling stock failures.
The Arboretum is open as usual. Click here for hours.
Garden Railway trains are not running Saturday, September 8th and Sunday, September 9th due to inclement weather.
Please note: The Rose Garden is closed for maintenance every Thursday morning until noon.
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.