The Barnes Arboretum at SJU Achieves Prestigious BGCI Designation

The arboretum is one in only five gardens to achieve the honor in the United States.

Wednesday, July 10, 2019

by Gail Benner

The Barnes Arboretum at Saint Joseph’s University has been certified by Botanic Garden Conservation International (BGCI), confirming its adherence to the highest international standards. In 2018, Saint Joseph’s University and the Barnes Foundation launched an educational partnership expanding opportunities for students and the surrounding community to engage in horticulture education.


The Frances M. Maguire Gallery building.

The 12-acre arboretum is astonishingly diverse for its size, with more than 2,500 varieties of woody and herbaceous plants — many rare. The peony and lilac collections date back to the early 1900s and are important genetic resources for conservation and study. An herbarium started in 1968 by John Fogg, a longtime instructor at the arboretum school and director after Mrs. Barnes, contains more than 10,000 specimens that supplement teaching and research.


An orchid found in the Arboretum.

From May to October, visitors are invited to explore the grounds and learn about the rare plants and breathtaking blooms that thrive there. The arboretum is open to the public on weekends, 11 a.m. to 4 p.m., from May 4 to October 27. Parking is free.


A gatehouse is situated at the end of the driveway into the campus.

With a smartphone, visitors can stream a 42-stop audio tour at arbtour.barnesfoundation.org. Highlights include the Laura L. Barnes Fern Dell, peony collection, medicinal plant garden, rare trees, magnolia collection, National Hosta Display Garden and lilac collection.


Stone stairs lead the way on the Arboretum grounds.

The arboretum is part of the new America’s Garden Capital Passport , a fun guide to exploring the Philadelphia region’s 36 public gardens.


The Arboretum features a quiet pond.

The gallery building was named the Frances M. Maguire Gallery to honor Saint Joseph’s alumnus James J. Maguire ’58 and his wife Frannie’s support of the University and commitment to educational and cultural initiatives. The building will be used by the University for its fine arts program and display, in keeping with its original use.


The Maguire family.




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