Crow’s Nest: Recollecting our Roots

April 1, 2019

By Daniel Barringer, Preserve Manager.

Photo: Daniel Barringer

Yesterday I attended the retirement tribute to Paul Meyer, the Director of Morris Arboretum of the University of Pennsylvania. I spent a formative year at Morris in 1990-91 as the Education Intern, and had the good fortune to spend time on plant walks at the Arboretum with Paul, who was in charge of the Horticulture Department at the time. I also enjoyed his “Gardens of Center City Philadelphia” walks, finding hidden gems in the most dense part of the city. He has been most generous with his plant knowledge and I remember these walks as if they were yesterday.

Photo: Daniel Barringer

At the time I was there Morris Arboretum was beginning a process of rejuvenation, repairing decaying garden features and replanting new, younger collections. Paul took the helm of the Arboretum toward the end of my time there and elevated the place above and beyond my wildest dreams. (My photos from my time there are still slides, so these are digital photos from more recent visits.)

What made the Arboretum so great for me was the people there: the stimulating learning environment they created and the internship program where I met people from around the world. Coming to work at an office in the garden was pretty great too, and that set me up for wanting to work at Natural Lands preserve. (Photos, from top: Lydia’s Cabin, the Fernery, and the “Out on a Limb” exhibit at Morris Arboretum.) I should add that I also made the people connections to get a job with Natural Lands though the Gardens Collaborative—a joint marketing effort that Philadelphia area public gardens were making at the time—leading to my position at Taylor Memorial Arboretum, then managed by Natural Lands Trust. I try to get back to Morris a couple times a year and participate in their high school career day.

Photo: Daniel Barringer

Morris Arboretum has been a long time partner with Natural Lands, working together on botanical surveys, protecting local open spaces, staff professional development, and promoting our shared love of nature. It’s a great place to visit and I am grateful for my experiences there which have shaped so much of my life. The excellent condition of the Arboretum today is a direct result of Paul Meyer’s talents and his work has touched the lives of so many.