Penn State first set aside land for an arboretum in 1914. In 2007, Charles H. “Skip” Smith’s pioneering $10 million lead gift enabled the University to take the arboretum from plan to reality, and the initial phase of the H.O. Smith Botanic Gardens opened to the public in 2009. Since that time, gifts from thousands of other donors have sponsored the development of new areas of the botanic gardens, including Childhood’s Gate Children’s Garden (2014) and the Pollinator and Bird Garden (2021).
The H.O. Smith Botanic Gardens cover 10 acres of The Arboretum at Penn State. An additional 20 acres of cultivated gardens are planned.
Beyond the Smith Botanic Gardens lie 340 acres of additional Arboretum lands, including fields and woodlands that are being restored, used for research, or developed as educational and recreational project sites.