Gardens and Capital Projects

Destination ◊ Education ◊ Preservation ◊ Natural Resource Protection


Tyler’s Strategic Master Plan guides our growth and development. Created in 2008, our current plan prioritizes:

  • Offering an inspiring outdoor destination to visitors
  • Teaching about the natural world and our place in it
  • Preserving the historic trees, plants, buildings and collections
  • Stewarding our natural resources

Ultimately, we will inspire care for our natural world.

Exhibit, Capital Project and Endowment Funding

Historic Painter Plants Exhibit                                                             Raised to Date:  $40,500

                                                                                                                Funding Goal:   $206,000

This exhibit focuses on Tyler’s historical beginnings, with the private collection of two brothers, Jacob and Minshall Painter, who were fascinated by the popular 19th century study of natural history. Around 1840, the brothers set aside some of their land to begin systematically planting more than 1,000 varieties of trees and shrubs. These specimens were planted in tidy rows that radiated, like spokes on a wagon wheel, out from the family farm house. Today, over 25 historic trees and shrubs survive – five are state champions.

Painter Map 2015 (Revised service drive)


Read More About the Historic Painter Plants Exhibit

Tyler’s vision is to develop an exhibit to reflect the look of the historic landscape created by the Painter brothers and to:

  • share the history of plant collections and displays in the Delaware Valley
  • demonstrate the Painter brothers’ original Arboretum planting plan
  • educate visitors about our historic trees, their stewardship and preservation
  • provide information on historic landscapes

Our plan is to create a new ADA pathway to guide visitors through this exhibit which will traverse the valley between our historic buildings and the Rocky Run stream. This pathway will increase accessibility to this important historic collection and connect with existing pathways in the Wister Rhododendron Garden and the Scenic Loop.

The Historic Painter Plants Exhibit will not only share the history of plant collections in the Delaware Valley, but will also help maintain the germplasm of these local, historic plants. Because of their size and age, many of the Painter brother plants are distinguished examples of their species.

Exhibit Funding Opportunities – Total Project $206,000

  • Nursery Rows – $26,500  ($25,000 funded)
  • Visitor Pathway One: Painter Plants Viewing – $53,000 ($15,000 funded)
  • Visitor Pathway Two: Connecting Drive – $59,800
  • Tree care and removal – $35,000
  • Interpretation and Signage – $25,000
  • Planning, Fees and Contingencies – $21,450

Funding received to date: $40,500

We began this exhibit in partnership with the Longwood Graduate Program in Public Horticulture in 2013. Each tree was measured and assessed to determine its overall condition and potential life expectancy with recommendations for its care. The students then established collaborative contacts to propagate and steward the historic and valuable plant material to preserve it for the future. They also conducted research to create a listing with locations of the original Painter Brother plantings. The brochure they designed complements the four designated Painter Plants viewing areas and its interpretative signage.


Pink Hill Restoration Project                                                             Raised to date: $330,000

“Tyler’s Pink Hill is truly an extraordinary place. The serpentine barren ecosystem has much more in common with Midwest grasslands than with the forest vegetation that prevails here in the east,” said Dr. Roger Latham, ecologist and conservation biologist. “Pink Hill is home to a fantastically diverse group of plants and animals for such a small area of land, including at least a dozen endangered or threatened species.” This serpentine barren is the last of its kind in Delaware County.Pinks on Pink Hill

Read More About the Pink Hill Restoration Project

Pink-HillSo what is our plan for preserving this ecological treasure? Given the sensitive nature of this project, Tyler continues to work under the guidance of Dr. Latham and Bill Lucas, primary project engineer. With several grants from Boeing, the Pennsylvania Department of Natural Resources, and the Delaware County Marcellus Shale Impact Grant, totaling $330,000 to fund the restoration project, the plan includes Latham’s recommendations: a prescribed burn, invasive species control, partial soil organic matter removal, and selective tree removal.

Baseline surveys will focus on rare plant and animal species, species reintroduction and augmentation and deer management. While we will be clearing nearly eight acres of woods, the project is not simply about “removal.” The staff has successfully completed our first round of rare species seed collection for seeds to be reintroduced after our initial conservation activities. The plans also call for signage and benches, an observation dig to look at the site’s geology with ADA-accessible parking and access to the top of the barren.

With this careful and deliberate strategy, Tyler Arboretum will continue our mission to steward natural spaces with diligent preservation efforts.



Tribute Campaign for Rick Colbert                                  Completed December 2014: $274,240

Last year, we embarked on a special Tribute Campaign to celebrate Tyler’s transformation over the last 23 years under the leadership of Executive Director Rick Colbert. In that time, Tyler has created a family destination that offers an informal and inviting nature experience.

To honor Rick’s strong desire to assure Tyler’s sustainability for future generations, we’ve well exceeded our $250,000 goal to endow a part-time gardener to care for Tyler’s Native Woodland Walk and core historic gardens. This position is yet another important step to sustain Tyler Arboretum for future generations to learn from and enjoy.

Mallory Smyth Sep 2014

Read More About the Tribute Campaign

In 2013, we hired Temple University graduate, Mallory Smyth, to work with the funds raised that year.  According to Smyth, “Having the opportunity to work at a botanic institution whose history is so rich with education and learning is invigorating. The Painter brothers had a desire to learn more about plants, and their achievements and vision are kept alive by the staff at Tyler Arboretum.”

We applaud the leadership, enthusiasm and hard work of our Tribute Campaign Committee ably led by co-chairs Judy Strine and Drew Schmidt. Assisted by committee members Vince Anderson, Jim Flandreau and Guy Messick, they’ve reached out to many Tyler friends and family to offer this giving opportunity. We thank each and every one of you who contributed so generously. We celebrate you and Tyler’s future!


Scenic Loop                                                                            Completed July 2013: $380,000

Starting at the Pond, the Scenic Loop is the first phase of a comprehensive pathway system to improve accessibility to key exhibits, the Pinetum, the Wister Rhododendron Garden and the Stopford Family Meadow Maze. This ADA-compliant pathway features gentle curves and multiple viewing points to allow more visitors to enjoy and learn from Tyler’s natural beauty throughout the seasons.


Read More About the Scenic Loop

Scenic-LoopThis pathway guides visitors to the Giant Sequoia, the Basking Circle, and the Meadow Overlook, and to the gateways for our six hiking trails. As we remain committed to continuous growth and improvement, this new Scenic Loop (over a mile in length) is a significant milestone in our journey to provide high quality visitor experiences and connections with nature.

Throughout the year, discover native wildflowers like milkweed, mountain mint and black-eyed Susans growing along the path. Look up to see raptors soaring in the open sky. Families with children will love finding signs of wildlife while peering down from the Overlook (formerly the Raptor Roost).

Tyler’s commitment to stewardship is on display with stormwater infiltration basins along the path to help offset the increased runoff caused by paving. These basins collect and hold water, enabling it to slowly absorb back into the soil. They also provide a wonderful opportunity to view wetland plants and visiting animals. We invite you to come experience it!

More information about the Scenic Loop project is in the Spring 2013 issue of Tyler Topics Find the path in our Visitor Guide.

The Scenic Loop was made possible with a generous gift from Bill and Judy Strine, longtime supporters of Tyler, and navigational signage was given by Jerry and Lucille Francesco. Engineering services were contributed by G.D. Houtman & Son. We are most grateful to these donors for this invaluable improvement for our visitors.

You can help us connect, explore, and grow with your gifts to support these exhibits and critical projects. To explore these opportunities, please contact:

Mary Beth Jackson
Director of Development
610-566-9134 ext 206




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