2023 is the Year of Trees at Awbury!

Awbury Arboretum is a museum of trees. At least, this is how we describe it to visiting schoolchildren who may be unfamiliar with the word “arboretum,” defined as a place in which a collection of trees and shrubs is cultivated for scientific or educational purposes. The meaning, however, becomes clear as soon as one steps into the landscape. Awbury’s honored collection of over 96 species of trees includes a variety of native, state champion, flowering, specimen, and heritage trees. We celebrate them by choosing 2023’s theme to be the Year of Trees.

The History & Design of the Landscape

The trees at Awbury are an essential design component in the English landscape style. Components of the landscape, designed in 1870 by William Saunders remain today. Awbury contains large copses (a forest understory containing smaller trees and shrubs) planted intentionally but meant to look naturally occurring. These copses generate hidden views and a sense of curiosity as carefully curated vistas lie around every corner. The next time you drive up Awbury Road, take note of this understated landscaping strategy. Saunders also planted large Eastern white pine trees in rows, meant to direct the eyes toward sweeping, distant views of the Arboretum. Today, our allée – a tree-lined avenue – maintains the original design along Station Road near Washington train station. 

Click here to view our Events page to see if there are any upcoming tree events.















Upcoming Projects

In support of Awbury’s Year of Trees, the Arboretum will be the primary location for the final year of activities for S(tree)twork, a multi-year public art project in Philadelphia. The project aims “to animate how we live among trees, how we perceive them and how we imagine our future co-habitation.”

In 2023, S(tree)twork facilitated the construction The Lightning House, a structure built on an existing barn ruin at Awbury. This space will be used for making instruments from trees that stood on Awbury’s grounds and other arts-related activities. S(tree)twork offered a mix of tree-related programming, including a free, two-week instrument-building workshop in June that was open to individuals who are interested in music and art.  

This Month’s Tree:


sugar maple

Written by Dan Sardaro


Click here to learn more!

Past years:

2022the Year of Birds 

2021 – the Year of Water

2020 – the Year of Citizen Science

2019 – the Year of Natural Fibers

Corresponding article series: Awbury’s 2019 Series on Natural Fibers

2018 – the Year of the Pollinator

Corresponding article series: Pollinators– from wasps to wind

2016 – Awbury Arboretum’s Centennial

Corresponding article series: The Country in the City: Natural History in Northwest Philadelphia