Much-anticipated Pollinator and Bird Garden underway in Arboretum at Penn State

This rendering shows a plaza and research and demonstration gardens that will be part of The Arboretum at Penn State's new Pollinator and Bird Garden. Credit: Didier Design StudioAll Rights Reserved.

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — Recent visitors to The Arboretum at Penn State may have noticed a bright blue construction fence surrounding about 3 acres of open meadow between the botanic gardens and the College Heights neighborhood. The fence delineates the future site of the Pollinator and Bird Garden, which will increase the size of the H.O. Smith Botanic Gardens by about 60%.

"Following an intense collaboration between Penn State scientists and our design consultants, Didier Design Studio, we believe we have successfully married aesthetics with state-of-the-art knowledge about the biology of pollinators and birds," said Kim Steiner, director of the Arboretum and professor of forest biology in the College of Agricultural Sciences.

"The goal is unique — to attract all the region's native pollinators and the broadest possible range of bird species," he said. "No one has attempted this before, and in fact more research will be needed in years to come before our goal can be fully realized."

To that end, the Pollinator and Bird Garden will incorporate habitats such as a pond, wetlands, woodland, fruit orchard and dry meadow. Likewise, research and demonstration beds and plantings will showcase more than 390 unique plant varieties, most of which are native to Pennsylvania or the greater Appalachian region. A raised, circular meadow at the garden's main entry will serve as a distinctive centerpiece.

The Arboretum's new Pollinator and Bird Garden, when completed, will contain a pond with a stone terrace and a boardwalk. Credit: Didier Design StudioAll Rights Reserved.

In addition to the garden's natural beauty, the area will include such features as the Bird House, a quiet refuge for visitors that will showcase feeding, bathing and nesting sites for songbirds; an observation hive that reveals a honey bee colony at work; and specialty gardens that illustrate important aspects of insect pollination. Collaboration with Penn State's Center for Pollinator Research and with Penn State ornithologists, ecologists and botanists has been instrumental in the development of these and other garden features.

Major construction should be completed by late 2020, with plant installation continuing into 2021. As with all previous landscape projects, the Pollinator and Bird Garden has been made possible through the generous gifts of many donors.

For more information about the Pollinator and Bird Garden, send email to or call 814-865-9118. To learn more about the Arboretum, visit

Last Updated November 21, 2019