The Cylburn Arboretum of Baltimore is centered around the Clyburn mansion and offers 207 acres of gardens, woodlands, and trails. There are over 20 gardens, which are themed as memorials, traditional gardens, or specific habitats. Each garden features both annuals and perennials to offer a variety of colors and textures throughout the year.

The South Gardens in front of the mansion include several memorial gardens as well as an azalea garden. The West Gardens include a master gardener’s vegetable garden demonstration and composting site. The North Gardens behind the mansion offer examples of small city backyard gardens as well as a shady garden. There are also a dahlia garden, heritage rose garden and day lily garden. The East Gardens contain the Garden of the Senses as well as a formal garden and tree peony collection. The tree and shrub collections include some trees that were planted in the 1800s, when the mansion was first built. Among these originals is a grove of Japanese maple trees. There is a conifer collection and a collection of flowering trees including magnolias, weeping cherry trees, hollies, and flowering shrubs. Over 3.5 miles of trails and woodlands makes Clyburn one of the largest wooded areas in Baltimore, and therefore an important habitat for wildlife and wildflowers. The arboretum is home to the Baltimore Bird Club, and the trails are open for hiking and dog walking; bikes are allowed on paved paths only. The first floor of the Clyburn mansion is accessible by the public during limited hours. Many of the original architectural fixtures and details can be seen. A display case in the front hall holds period photos of the original building and grounds as well as photos of Jesse and Edyth Tyson, the home’s original owners.

History: The Clyburn mansion was built in 1868 by Jesse Tyson, President of Baltimore Chrome Works and son of Isaac Tyson. Isaac Tyson had amassed a fortune in chromium mining and both his sons followed in the family business. The second son, James, ran mining operations throughout Pennsylvania, Vermont, California, and Georgia, and built the Ruscombe mansion next door. The Clyburn mansion was built in the Victorian Renaissance Revival style and is noted for its use of local gneiss stone and its inlaid floors, leaded glass, and marble baths. The home, with its tall windows and wide porches, was used as a summer residence for the Tyson family. The architect, George A. Frederick, would go on to build Baltimore’s City Hall. The Clyburn mansion remained a home for Jesse Tyson and his wife Edyth through his death in 1906, and through her second marriage until her death in 1942. The home was then auctioned and briefly used as a residence for orphaned children. In 1954, the city founded the Cylburn Wildflower Preserve and Garden Center to make use of the home and grounds as a park, fulfilling a 1903 study completed by the famed landscape architects, the Olmstead Brothers. The formal gardens were restored and the mansion was used as office space for the park. In 1982, the park was renamed as an arboretum to reflect its history of stewardship of the gardens, lawns, natural wooded areas, and planted trees. Today’s arboretum reflects the history of the site by offering education, events, and continued care of the land and home. Two new buildings were constructed between 2008 and 2010, a visitor center and education center, to further serve the arboretum’s mission.

Ongoing Programs and Education: Visitors to the trails may participate in documenting the wildlife at the arboretum by sending photos via email and including the day, time, and place the animal was spotted. The trail system is popular with birders, who can spot a variety of species, which come to enjoy the wildflowers and trees. Visitors may also download scavenger hunt lists prior to their visit. Other programs include yoga, gardening workshops, and educational talks. Summer Nature Camps for children aged 5-11 teach kids about science, nature, and the environment. The Food Systems Lab is a teaching farm operating on the grounds of the arboretum, which offers a weekly open house where visitors can learn about sustainable food growing practices. The lab, which is operated in partnership with the Johns Hopkins Center for a Livable Future, teaches about sustainable practices in food production, including aquaponics, the process of growing plants in water using fish to process waste and re-circulate nutrients.

Past and Future Exhibits: The Vollmer Visitor center is host to a variety of exhibits. Currently, artist Kathleen Kotarba, an award-winning painter from Baltimore, has several paintings on display. Admission to the exhibits and grounds is free, and the arboretum is open all year round except on major holidays.

4915 Greenspring Avenue, Baltimore, MD 21209, website, Phone: 410-367-2217

Back to: Baltimore, MD

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