Road Trip

See the Forest for the Treehouses in Pennsylvania

Exhibits of unique treehouses by area craftsmen are now on display in southeastern Pennsylvania at the Tyler Arboretum and Longwood Gardens.
Sunday, July 6, 2008

WHERE: Southeastern Pennsylvania

WHY: Houses in trees, berry pickin' and fashionable gardening.

HOW FAR: About 38 miles from start to finish, and 130 miles from Washington.

This summer, go climb a treehouse. Two garden centers in pastoral Pennsylvania are staging fanciful exhibitions of arboreal abodes: Tyler Arboretum is hosting "Totally Terrific Treehouses" through Sept. 28, while Longwood Gardens is displaying "Nature's Castles" through Nov. 23.

"Families and children are really enjoying the opportunity to get out into the forest and have a pleasant experience," says Rick Colbert, executive director of Tyler Arboretum. "The entire Delaware Valley region is what we call a hotbed of horticulture."

At the arboretum, local designers and builders conceived of and created 17 eclectic treehouses. Creativity is the common denominator: Scared Silly, for example, is a 15-foot-high pink elephant entwined in a tree; Arboreal Amphibians consists of a posse of colorful fiberglass frogs spaced around a glen; and Hanging Out features a grove of trees strung with hammocks ideal for hot, lazy weekends. The exhibit is set among towering cedars, spruces, pines and birches, some of which were planted in the 1850s by the arboretum's founding family, the Painters.

Fifteen miles to the west, Pierre du Pont's Longwood Gardens has transformed its own trees and grounds into a trio of upscale shelters, including the Lookout Loft, an Adirondack-style retreat; the Canopy Cathedral, a two-story structure inspired by a Norwegian church; and the Birdhouse, which is not just for the birds.

-- Ben Chapman

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