About the Gardens

The H.O. Smith Botanic Gardens are the jewel of the Arboretum, featuring 10 acres of themed garden spaces and another 14 acres of rolling meadows and walking paths to explore. Within the cultivated gardens, visitors will find seasonal displays, specialty gardens, water features, and a garden designed especially for children. The largest cultivated area comprises three acres of habitats and plants selected for their attractiveness to birds and pollinators. Benches and other seating are located throughout the gardens.

Arboretum Areas and Descriptions

The children’s garden celebrates the flora, fauna, and natural history of central Pennsylvania. Features include sculptures of native wildlife, a simulated cave, a wading stream, raised garden beds, and a glass house that serves as a hub for educational programs.

Seasonally changing plant displays fill the beds surrounding the Joan Milius Smith Esplanade. A landscape-sized sculpture, the Joel N. Myers Sundial, is on the central lawn.

This large patio, enclosed by stucco walls and ornamental panels, highlights plants in mostly tropical families. An adjacent poplar court marks the site of a planned conservatory. Benches, small tables, and chairs invite visitors to sit and enjoy this colorful garden venue.

Aquatic plants, including fragrant water lilies of various species, fill the raised pool in the center of this walled garden. To one side, a terrace offers a quiet area to retreat from the flow of traffic.

A popular venue for weddings and other events, the Overlook Pavilion provides views toward the Bald Eagle Ridge in the northwest and across the central lawn toward the fountain and campus in the southeast. On the pavilion’s northwest side is the 924-square-foot Ridge and Valley sculpture, which depicts the Spring Creek watershed’s landforms and waterways.

This three-acre garden was designed to attract the many insect pollinator species and both resident and migratory birds in our region. A site for scholarly research and educational activities, it incorporates extensive beds of pollinator- and bird-friendly plants, water features, beehives, agricultural beds, and an orchard.

The Margery Enes Smith Soaring Waters Fountain overlooks the Ramage Marsh Meadow. A gravel path leads to a boardwalk across the switchgrass meadow below and toward the University Park campus. Benches and a low wall provide seating.

Encircling the Event Lawn, the Kathryn Bower Smith Strolling Garden comprises a wide, paved path and border plantings of flowering shrubs and perennial herbaceous plants, as well as the Hosler Oak, the first tree planted in the botanic gardens.

This cottage-style, walled garden boasts the color and fragrance of hundreds of roses and tree peonies, under-planted with herbs and other aromatic plants. Specific features include an iris walk and garden bower draped in wisteria.

Printable/Downloadable Map of the Gardens

map of arboretum grounds