A SUMR Day at Penn's Tree Museum

SUMR Blog

A SUMR Day at Penn's Tree Museum

Photo Feature From the 2015 Morris Arboretum Trip
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[Click images for larger] LDI's Summer Undergraduate Minority Research (SUMR) scholars took a weekend tour of the University of Pennsylvania's Morris Arboretum, a public garden sprawling across 92 sumptuously landscaped acres in the northwest corner of Philadelphia. Created as a Victorian estate and horticultural science center in the 1880s, the site is studded with things like imported asian forests, swan ponds, hand-carved marble gazebos (above, left) and a rose garden nearly as large as a football field (above, right).
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One of the Arboretum's most unusual modern additions is 50-foot high steel walkway traversing a dense forest's canopy (above, left). Called "Out on a Limb Tree Adventure," it provided SUMR scholars Omar Mansour of Macalester College and Enrique Torres Hernandez of St. Mary's University (above, right) a place to observe forest life from afar.
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The treetop platform also offered a way to listen to the living sounds of the forest canopy with a special set of sound-amplifying ear cones demonstrated by Omar Mansour (above, left). Nets strung through the walkway structure (above, right) provided a comfortable place to relax. Shown in the foreground: Safa Browne, SUMR Program Coordinator and Anuvrat Jha of Ohio State University; Left to right in rear: Elliot Oblander and Leah Davidson of the Wharton School's Summer Program for Undergraduate Research (SPUR) students, Omar Mansour, Tammy Jiang of Brown University, Nisreen Ghogawala, Mei-Lynn Hua of the University of Texas at Austin.
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Another section of the "Out on a Limb" experience offers a human-sized birds nest with three human-sized blue eggs that provide an irresistible photo op for nearly all who enter. Trying out the eggs for size (above, right) are SUMR scholars Enrique Torres Hernandez, Mei-Lynn Hua, Omar Mansour and Anuvrat Jha.
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Another of the Arboretum's features is a Victorian fernery built in 1899 that has a jungle-like environment (and humidity level) along with a mini-stream, water falls, grottos, caves and an overlook bridge from which to see it all.
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On temporary display at the Arboretum is something called "A Walk in the Woods," a creation of North Carolina artist Patrick Dougherty, who specializes in monumental stick art sculptures (above, right). The size of the sensuous cottage-like structures built from a variety of different kinds of willow boughs is evident as SUMR scholars stand next to the towering constructions (above, right)
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Eighteen years ago, the Arboretum put in a temporary "railroad garden" in which model trains ran through an ornate garden on a criss-crossing, multi-level series of intricate trestle, bridges and tunnels (above, left). The display became so popular (and such a revenue generator) that it was made a permanent part of the facility and is constantly upgraded with historical buildings and artworks. Above, right, LDI Digital Editor Hoag Levins and SUMR scholar Omar Mansour shoot photos of the structures, some of which, like the Eiffel Tower, are a story high.
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When it was created at the height of the Victorian era in the 1880s, the arboretum was a private estate whose wealthy owners created a tree museum by importing collections of exotic trees from around the world. Above, the SUMR group views a Dawn-Redwood tree that long ago went extinct except for a small group growing in a remote valley of China. This one grew from a Chinese seed that was planted at the arboretum in 1948.
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Arboretum tour guide Jim Diamond explains the Chinese origins of this large Lacebark tree (above, left). Nearby is the massive and sprawling Katsura tree (above, right) from China that was imported and planted in the arboretum in 1901.
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Gathered around the statue of arboretum founder and iron fortune heir John Morris are (l to r) SUMR scholars Tammy Jiang and Mei-Lynn Hua; Nisreen Ghogawala; SUMR Program Coordinator Safa Browne; SUMR scholars Enrique Toores Hernandez and Omar Mansour; SUMR Program Director Joanne Levy; SPUR scholar Elliot Oblander; SUMR scholar Anuvrat Jha; SPUR scholar Leah Davidson; and LDI Multimedia Manager Megan Pellegrino.