Pollinator and Bird Garden opens in The Arboretum at Penn State

June 25, 2021

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — People strolling through The Arboretum at Penn State are likely to see more winged creatures visiting the many flowering plants with the opening of the long-awaited Pollinator and Bird Garden the week of June 28.

Construction of the three-acre Pollinator and Bird Garden began in the fall of 2019. Workers will be putting finishing touches on the planting beds in the first few days of operation.

This major addition to the H.O. Smith Botanic Gardens, which will increase the acreage of developed gardens by more than 60%, is unique in its ambitious design and intent, according to Arboretum staff.

To accomplish its goals for the new garden, the Arboretum worked with a large team of Penn State-based and outside experts, including scientists in Penn State’s Center for Pollinator Research, and faculty, staff and community members of the Arboretum’s Avian Education Advisory Committee.

Parts of the garden are designed for research to advance the goal of attracting all native pollinators in this region, and parts are designed to demonstrate how to create attractive, pollinator- and bird-friendly landscapes.

The innovative garden was designed by Emmanuel Didier, founding principal of Didier Design Studio in Ft. Collins, Colorado, and the planting design was created by Claudia West with Phyto Studio based in Arlington, Virginia.

“Emmanuel’s design is a beautiful tapestry of hills, ponds, structures and gardens,” said Kim Steiner, Arboretum director and professor of forest biology in the College of Agricultural Sciences. “But beneath that beauty is a pallet of plants and soils chosen and crafted using the best science toward our goal of attracting a great variety of birds and insect pollinators. The garden is a marriage of really good design and really good science, and I think that makes it very interesting.”

Arboretum Pollinator-Bird Garden pond and terrace

A stone terrace overlooks the pond in the Pollinator and Bird Garden in The Arboretum at Penn State. The new garden increases the developed space in the H.O. Smith Botanic Gardens by 60%.

IMAGE: Codey Mathis

Unique features include a bird blind and a honey bee observation hive. The most unusual garden elements are two dead Table Mountain pine trees that were harvested and mounted to serve as perches for birds, especially raptors, and as a source of food and homes for woodpeckers and other wildlife.

Parts of the garden are designed for research to advance the goal of attracting all native pollinators in this region, and parts are designed to demonstrate how to create attractive, pollinator- and bird-friendly landscapes.

A noteworthy aspect of this project was the Arboretum’s use of volunteers to install the vast majority of the 143,000 plants in the garden.

“Creating the garden has truly been a community effort,” said Shari Edelson, the Arboretum’s director of operations. “Over the course of construction, more than 620 people volunteered to help us plant. We can’t wait to welcome them — and the public —into this new space.”

Construction of the Pollinator and Bird Garden was funded entirely through philanthropy. Nearly 500 individual donors contributed financial gifts toward the project.

The new garden is located within the H.O. Smith Botanic Gardens at the corner of East Park Avenue and Bigler Road on the University Park campus. The Arboretum is open daily from dawn until dusk. There is no charge for admission. Parking is available in the Arboretum’s lot until July 19, when construction will begin on the new Palmer Museum of Art facility. From then on, parking will be available across the street in the lot adjacent to the Lewis Katz Building.

More information about the Arboretum is available at the website. Those interested in receiving information about upcoming events and activities can sign up for the monthly newsletter.

(Media Contacts)

Last Updated July 06, 2021