Pollinator and Bird Garden opens in The Arboretum at Penn State

People strolling through The Arboretum at Penn State are likely to see more winged creatures visiting the many flowering plants with the recent opening of the long-awaited Pollinator and Bird Garden.

Construction of the 3-acre Pollinator and Bird Garden began in the fall of 2019. Workers will be putting the 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.

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.”

Image Credit: 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,” says 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 across the street in the lot adjacent to the Lewis Katz Building.
More information about the Arboretum is available at https://arboretum.psu.edu/

Image Credits: The Arboretum at Penn State unless otherwise captioned.

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Damian Holmes is the Founder and Editor of World Landscape Architecture (WLA). He is a registered landscape architect (AILA) working in international design practice in Australia. Damian founded WLA in 2007 to provide a website for landscape architects written by landscape architects. Connect on Linkedin at https://www.linkedin.com/in/damianholmes/