Morris Arboretum: Of Trees and Trains

I’m not very good with plants but I’m glad I headed down to the Morris Arboretum with Tim, Jo & Alan on Saturday. Despite my 3.5 years in this school, I only found out then that the arboretum was owned and maintained by Penn! (Found out from a Daily Penn article today that the arboretum is celebrating its 125th year — what!) In warmer weather it would be a perfect place for a picnic and a stroll, but winter is coming, and the four of us had to take shelter in the humid, warmer fernery after a while.

The main reason for our visit was the Garden Railway — 15 rail lines, 2 cable cars, 9 bridges all interwoven with the natural landscape of mini-waterfalls and creeks and lakes. Not only that, each building (all of which had some Philly significance) is made of natural materials (primarily bark, leaves, mosses, etc). I thought it was the perfect integration of nature and (some) technology, with all the Christmassy lights and battery-run sound emitted from the trains.

Rather liked this one — I think it’s supposed to be a replica of a SEPTA trolley. And that’s a water tower next to it:

Festive spirit! And there’s a long carrier train carting presents in the background:

A beautiful replica of Philadelphia’s Independence Hall. Not sure if there was a William Penn standing on top of it, should have double-checked instead of being so trigger-happy!

Apparently a large proportion of the plant species in the arboretum is from Asia, especially China and Japan. I remember seeing one sign that they were trying to weed out some Korean plant that was crowding out the native dogwood or something. Pretty cool that you can transplant a part of a world that shouldn’t belong as long as you have money and space :p Speaking of Japan, here is the Katsuna tree:

I was just taken by how huge and massive it was, that its branches were spreading everywhere. Around the same time that I took this photo, Tim exclaimed that it was the “cotton candy tree” he had been telling us about the whole time we were there. In my mind, I thought we were on the lookout for a pink, fluffy sakura-like tree. Turns out he meant the smell of the tree — take a deep enough breath and there’s a faint scent of cotton candy! Later we found out from a volunteer guide that it comes from the reaction of the dead leaves to sunlight. We were also told off by said guide to get off the tree that we were climbing hahaha. These are the products of our modeling stint by the tree:

I just love how Tim is about to crack up in all these serious photos. I was trying to get them to “werk it,” ANTM-style, and all Tim could do was just give this goofy smile. Same happened when we were in the Springhouse, a woodish building meant to be a cooler refuge in hotter climes but where we ended up seeking some shelter from the wind.

He was a little more successful acting the part of Juliet (with Jo as Romeo):

And a decent attempt at playing the illegitimate son of either John or Lydia Morris:

Peppered around the park are benches with engraved statements, tokens to remember the donors that keep this 92-acre arboretum alive. Most of them were written in memory of the dearly departed… Some were pretty zen-like, almost non-sequiturs.

This one says, “Love you once, love you twice / Love you more than cats love mice.” Whoever you are, the person who bought this bench can’t love you that much. I’ve seen the decapitated mouse my godma’s cat brought her…

Gliding must be very special to this donor’s life… I like playing Sims and surfing the internet but I’m not sure I’d buy a whole bench just to say that:

After warming up at the fernery, we headed for the treetop walkway. It’s not very high, which reminds me that I really have to go check out the Gardens by the Bay back home. Ah whatever, if the world doesn’t end on Dec 21 I have six years to figure that out.

Alan’s pointing to the giant bee-hive / bird nest-y thing here:

So naturally we all had to go in and take a look… and pretend to be mother hens. Tim included:

Everyone relieved their second childhood on this fake trampoline:

Well, for some it was still their first. This little boy is adorbs.

A lot of the treetop walkway’s features obviously catered to kids, which is a nice touch. I don’t know if we didn’t go out enough when we were younger, or that Singapore’s too hot, or that Young Botanist Award thingy started too late, or that I’m just living under a rock… But basically I was more than surprised to find out that there were NPark scholarships being given out. And there’s so much to nature which doesn’t preclude kids, as I’ve been finding out this year. Like Arthur’s Seat, which left me huffing and puffing, till I was left red-faced seeing all these excitable kids who reached the top with seemingly little effort haha. Hopefully if and when I’m a mom I will be an outdoorsy one!

This emo piece is titled “Tim Listens to the World but No One Listens to Tim”:

And my favorite train picture… Reminds me that winter and Christmas is round the corner!!! Just need to tell myself it’s full steam ahead for the next two weeks, and then it’s Adventure Time in Peru and Bolivia 🙂

1 Comment

  • lilian says:

    your memory playing tricks on you ah? we used to bring you to pierce reservior, bukit timah hill, sentosa for jalan-jalan. you no remember meh? bet your photo in somebody’s blog (or equivalent, whatever they had then) with a caption gushing how adorable this little girl is. what happened since then ah? i know, it’s the spore education system. (psst…it’s never the parents’ fault).

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