The Tanger Arboretum Blog

A blog highlighting special features of the Tanger Arboretum on the grounds of Learn about: what plants/trees are blooming; what's new in the Arboretum; what wildlife has been spotted on the grounds; and about upcoming events!

To learn more about the history of the Arboretum, please click here. For information about visiting the Arboretum, please click here


Experience The Arboretum
Written by Kelly Seidle, Tanger Arboretum   


The best way to learn about the Tanger Arboretum…take a guided tour!

Visitors take a tour of the grounds of President James Buchanan's Wheatland.Now is the perfect time to learn and experience all that the Tanger Arboretum has to offer with a professional guided tour. The Lancaster County Master Gardeners had the delightful opportunity of getting a very educational and inspiring tour given by Tanger Arboretum Board President Jeff Hazlett and Board Member Bob Davis. Both gentlemen add special insights and interesting facts with their horticultural backgrounds and expertise. Tanger Arboretum strives to engage the public to cultivate a deeper appreciation of nature at our historical community asset.

As we walked along the property with Jeff and Bob, they were able to not only identify and describe various trees and shrubs, but also provide unique characteristics, seasonal changes, maintenance care and certain growing specifications. Many folks from the tour acknowledged that type of information was beyond what a tree/plant ID tag can provide and gave you invaluable information if you plan to add that same specimen to your own property. Remember the famous quote…location, location, location!

Visitors take a guided tour of the Dwarf Conifer Garden.I know first-hand it is one thing to search for a tree or shrub online or in a catalog or see one in a gallon container at your favorite nursery, but it can be totally different (and an eye-opener) to see a full grown, mature specimen. As you can see from the photos our tour guides were very engaging, pointing out important attributes and welcomed the visitor’s comments and questions. Most of our tour group had no idea there are well over 150 trees and the newly added Dwarf Conifer Garden captivated everyone’s fascination and attention.

I’m so glad I was able to join my friends for this tour and I encourage everyone to contact to book your own guided tour and get to know your local historical hidden gem!

Written by Kelly Seidle, Tanger Arboretum


Subtle Signs of Springtime
Written by Kelly Seidle, Tanger Arboretum   


Plants and trees are slowly but surely awakening from the winter slumber. As you walk the grounds of the Arboretum, little glimpses of color will catch your eye, from the spot of yellow from daffodils to the pretty patches of purple crocus. There are mornings where the air is still damp and chilly, but the sunshine is lingering long into the afternoons, making it the perfect time to take a stroll and notice nature's rebirth in plants and trees.

Image of buds on a Cornelian Cherry tree.Buds on a Cornelian Cherry tree.I particularly like to watch the burst of life from trees. One of my favorites is the Cornelian Cherry (Dogwood), Cornus mas. It's a deciduous tree that grows to a height of about 16 feet. This particular tree is located along the driveway on the right side, across from Wheatland.

Yellow flowers on short stalks bloom in early spring before the leaves emerge in dense, showy, rounded clusters. The yellow flowers are hermaphrodite (have both male and female organs) and are pollinated by bees. Fruits are fleshy, one-seeded berries which mature to cherry red in mid-summer. The fruits are edible, although sour tasting fresh off the plant and may be used for making syrups and preserves.

Interesting facts: Genus name comes from the Latin word cornu meaning horn in probable reference to the strength and density of the wood. Cornus is also the Latin name for cornelian cherry. Common name refers to the cherry-like fruits which resemble in color the semi-precious gemstone carnelian (or cornelian). Now it makes perfect sense to me...I'm a woman that loves jewelry so of course this tree would grab my attention!

I think each of us has our favorite sign of springtime, whether it’s hearing a beloved song bird, smelling the sweet scent of spring flowers, or just taking notice of all the delicate hues from the budding trees.

Don’t miss this wonderful time to explore the Tanger Arboretum to experience the peaceful atmosphere and see what warmer weather and longer days have brought out of the ground from hibernation.




Written by Kelly Seidle, Tanger Arboretum


Blue Conifers at the Tanger Arboretum
Written by Kelly Seidle, Tanger Arboretum   


Go ahead and inhale…take a deep breath and smell the fragrances at the Arboretum!

I know what you’re thinking…it’s freezing outside-what is she talking about?! Let me assure you there are delightful, invigorating fragrances amongst the trees at the Tanger Arboretum. In the cold months when all other plant life withers away, evergreens serve as a reminder that, even in the darkest part of the year, life endures. If you are like me, the winter Holidays really amp-up your senses. Who can resist being happy when you walk into a house with sugar cookies baking in the kitchen, scented candles burning in the dining room and, of course, that fresh, effervescent fragrance coming from your holiday evergreen tree?

Girl pictured with Blue Cedar AtlasNow that the holiday decorations are put away and the tree has been taken down there’s no reason you can’t still enjoy the winter scents that nature offers. Take for instance the big Blue Cedar Atlas; it has a warm but bright aroma when you take your hand and brush across the small blue needles. I put this to test when I brought my great-niece Elizabeth Myer along on one of my Tanger Arboretum walks. As you can see, it didn’t take long for her to appreciate the different aromas and want to compare one tree to the next. This is great and interactive way to introduce children to the wonderful world of horticulture in their own back yard.

Gently hold the branch of the Blue Koster Spruce and slightly bend the needles to inhale its rich, grassy-herbal, earthy pine scent and slight camphor-like notes. Maybe this is where the house-cleaning phrase “let’s spruce up” came from?

Another all-time favorite is the Blue Spanish Fir. The Fir tree itself is a very handsome-pyramid shape with dark green to bright blue-green needles. Fir trees have a real savory forest fragrance; there is an intense citrus (lemony) undertone which gives it an extra lift.

So let’s get outside and change the saying “winter blues” to “have you smelled the Blue Conifers at the Tanger Arboretum?”

Written by Kelly Seidle, Tanger Arboretum


Fall Foliage at the Arboretum
Written by Kelly Seidle, Tanger Arboretum   


Image of fall foliage.There’s a photo-op waiting for you at the Tanger Arboretum…

What’s more beautiful than a background of various enormous trees with brilliant foliage and textures? The Arboretum is the perfect place to capture autumn’s warm color palate in your next holiday family photo, kids with their friends, and, of course, snap that picture of your beloved pet.

Today we are so inundated with social media, internet, and electronic gadgets it makes it easy to lose track of those special moments like taking a traditional photo that will encapsulate friends and family members for generations. A neighbor to the Tanger Arboretum, Lorri Schmick, shared a wonderful story with me that one day she came across a family having their photo taken in front of the giant Sugar Maple (glorious in the fall with crimson red and orange leaves). The family told her the story of how they came to this same spot every year; the mother reminisced she did this as a child with her parents and now she was passing this tradition on to her daughters. Such a pure, simple and warm hearted gesture to allow nature be a part of your legacy.

Image of a small dog beneath a tree.I was lucky enough to be taking my Saturday stroll at the Arboretum when I came across my friends Jane and Mark Strassle. They were enjoying this gorgeous fall morning with their adorable little dog Zoe. Of course I couldn’t resist featuring Zoe in this month’s Blog…she is picture-perfect in her cozy plaid sweater posing under the golden foliage of the American Beech tree.

Don’t let Tanger Arboretum’s vivid picturesque features slip by you—grab your phone, camera or paint brush and seize the moment before it is gone!


By Kelly Seidle, Tanger Arboretum

Is That Autumn Knocking at the Door?
Written by Kelly Seidle, Tanger Arboretum   


tricyrtis 2Tricyrtis It’s been a long hot summer and the transition has finally begun. Clear, bright blue skies with cool temperatures at dusk and that distinct tannin scent wafting through the air in the early morning hours. My anticipation of beautiful fall colors in orange, red and yellow may still be weeks away, but if you look closely around the Tanger Arboretum there are little treasures to behold.

Take for instance walking along the brick pathway past the Carriage House---you’ll come across the orchid-like perennial flower Tricyrtis, commonly known as toad lilies. This plant is extremely happy in this shady, woodsy spot. Beautiful upright, elegant clumps of green foliage with eye-catching blossoms, star-shaped white flowers heavily spotted with pink-to-deep wine purple will surely grab your attention. At this time of the year most perennial flowers are looking a bit ragged so seeing this unique specimen really is a precious sight.

magnolia 1Magnolia Grandiflora tree with fruitThen as you wind your way around the front of the Willson Memorial Building, delightful rose-to-pink oblong fruits on the two Southern Magnolia (Magnolia Grandiflora) trees will certainly grab your attention. Most people recognize the Magnolia trees for their large, glossy, evergreen leaves and very fragrant flowers in the spring. I have to admit setting sight on the “small rosy pineapple” (as described by a little girl) made me ponder…maybe I can wait a few more weeks for all the leaves to change!

Grab a sweater and come over to the Tanger Arboretum; you may just discover something new this Fall.




Written by Kelly Seidle, Tanger Arboretum


Seeking Shade at the Arboretum
Written by Kelly Seidle, Tanger Arboretum   


Whew! The weatherman announced there have been over 30 days this summer of 90 degrees or above and the heatwave is not over. That makes it hard for those of us that like to get outside smell the fresh air, take walks, or ride our bicycle. I am fortunate to live close to hiking trails, but some of the paths are not shaded and you’re subjected to the blazing sun and humidity. No, thank you!

The Beech Grove at the Tanger Arboretum.At the Tanger Arboretum there is an area called the Beech Tree Grove--another fine hidden gem right under our noses. So what is a Tree Grove you ask? It’s a group of trees that grow close together generally with minimal or no undergrowth. It creates a low-maintenance woodland setting that appeals to both visitors and wildlife. After a long, hot day this could be your secret hideout to just relax and unwind. Best part: no mowing required.

My husband and I walked through the Grove on Saturday and the temperature outside was 87 degrees. No doubt there was a noticeable lower temperature walking under the Beech trees with their cascading branches full of leaves creating a cool canopy. We are so fortunate that the Tanger Arboretum is home to a beautiful collection of different varieties. So when the temperature starts spiking, head over to the Beech Grove to experience a touch of serenity.

Tanger Arboretum features the following in the Beech Tree Grove:

  • Tri-color Beech
  • Purple Beech
  • Oak-Leaf Beech
  • Fern-Leaf Beech
  • Columnar or Dawyck Beech
  • Copper Beech
  • Weeping Beech

Written by Kelly Seidle, Tanger Arboretum


The Franklin Tree
Written by Jeff Hazlett, Tanger Arboretum   


At the Tanger Arboretum we have a very special tree species in our collection: Franklinia alatamaha or Franklin tree.

This tree has a mysterious past more than any of our native plant species. Discovered in Georgia along the Alatamaha river by John Bartram in 1765, Bartram was a noted colonial horticulturist who traveled the colonies collecting plant specimens. He named the tree after Benjamin Franklin.

Why such a mystery? By 1803 the tree had disappeared from the wild. Our modern day trees are descended from specimens Bartram collected from his travels and grew in his Philadelphia garden.

IMG 1785A Franklinia blossom.Franklinia produces white fragrant flowers in late July to early August. It will flower sporadically until frost. The tree is a member of the tea family of which our familiar Camellia is part. It will grow to 20 feet tall. Multiple trunks are common. Fall color is orange / red. The tree is not a vigorous grower probably due to its limited gene pool, and does not tolerate drought and requires acidic well drained soil.

The largest specimen is located in Boston at the Arnold Arboretum.

Back to our mystery. Why did the tree disappear in the wild? Many theories have been put forth: climate change after the ice age where the south got hotter; destruction by man; lack of genetic diversity. One theory states the rise of cotton farming along with a cotton disease pathogen infected the trees and fatally brought about its demise.

At Tanger we have a collection of 3 Franklinias, a tree species so rare at Tanger Arboretum! And here in Lancaster County!

So please come out out and visit Tanger. If you do visit soon, you will be amazed to see a rare tree in its blooming grandeur.


Written by Jeff Hazlett, Tanger Arboretum

The ACS Reference Garden
Written by Bob Davis, Tanger Arboretum   


One of the newest additions to the Tanger Arboretum is the "American Conifer Society (ACS) Reference Garden."

This came about by a wonderful confluence of events: Being a lifelong admirer of trees, and a member of the ACS, I was aware of the unique beauty of select conifers and of a program by the ACS to help support the installation of such a garden.

Also, I was a "Friend of Tanger Arboretum" and saw the opportunity to include a reference garden in the comprehensive plan for the 10-acre History Campus. The reference garden was included in the plan at a beautiful location. Howard Kauffman located large rocks, proper soil, and stepping stones and built a beautiful canvas to display (plant) dwarf and miniature conifers. Fritz Schroder installed great pathways and Jeff Hazlett mulched the entire garden. Select trees were ordered and planted and plant identification tags were ordered and installed ....and voila ... an exemplary Reference Garden!

This may not have been accomplished without the vision and support of the American Conifer Society. Many thanks to them!

**For more information please

Conifer Facts:
Size – Growth rate Miniature - < 3 inches per year
Size – Growth rate Dwarf – 1 to 6 inches per year
Size – Growth rate Intermediate – 6 to 12 inches per year
Size – Growth rate Large – > 12 inches per year

What is an ACS Reference Garden?

FullSizeRender 2The grafted Colorado Blue Spruce.Since 2008, the American Conifer Society has been partnering with public gardens throughout the United States to recognize noteworthy conifer collections through a special designation, the ACS Reference Garden. These gardens provide wonderful opportunities to educate the public about growing conifers, using conifers in a home landscape, and building enthusiasm about conifers and the American Conifer Society. To receive a Reference Garden designation, a garden must meet several criteria, including the number of conifers in their collection, accurate labeling of the conifers, and proper maintenance of the conifer collection.

The Reference Garden will always be evolving as trees grow and new ones are added. The newest specimen tree is a Picea pungens 'Glauca Globosa' on a 3 foot standard (a round shaped, slow growing, very blue, Colorado Blue Spruce grafted onto a 3 foot high root stalk to give it height). It is located adjacent to the Reference Garden along N. President Avenue and is easily visible from the road. See photo.

Enjoy the gardens,
Bob Davis

Written by Bob Davis, Tanger Arboretum

Accreditation Achieved!
Written by Kelly Seidle, Tanger Arboretum   


Ahhhh, springtime… Time for regrowth, the unexpected, and new beginnings. We have a new beginning here at the Tanger Arboretum: Level 1 Accreditation from ArbNet!

14ArbNet Badges Level1 webSo what is ArbNet, you ask? It’s an interactive, collaborative, international community of arboreta. This organization supports our Arboretum with resources to improve operations, conservation, and education. It gives us the opportunity to connect with other arboreta to collaborate with in scientific, collections, and conservation activities, a great way to extend the “olive branch” to the community. Best of all we can tap into a broad network to help advance the planting, care, and conservation of trees.

Now you may be saying to yourself—“But the Tanger Arboretum is small (only 10 acres). Can you really be accredited?”

Yes! There is a lot packed into our 10 acres. We have over 100 mature trees and the grounds are rich with unique history such as the beautiful home of our 15th President James Buchanan, which includes some of the authentic structures that we will strive to maintain.

So how did we achieve the Level 1 Accreditation? We developed a plan. It’s to reach out to you, our neighbors. The governing Board known as Tanger Arboretum Trustees have spent many, many hours dedicated to reviewing the grounds and discussing how to make it better, more inviting and preserving this historical gem. Members of this Board are Horticulture professionals, Master Gardeners and those who care about their environment and want to preserve it for future generations. One of the current projects entails researching, creating and distributing new tree labels throughout the Arboretum. Next we plan to offer tours and horticulture workshops on various aspects of the Arboretum.

Ahhh, yes, it is springtime. Hello neighbor! Hope to see you at the Arboretum!

 And don't forget! You still have until April 7th to RSVP for the Friends of the Tanger Arboretum Annual Dinner. To learn more about the event and how to RSVP, please click here

 Written by Kelly Seidle, Tanger Arboretum

Tanger Arboretum Gets New Signage
Written by Bob Davis, Tanger Arboretum   


IMG 2513Howdy to all the "Friends of Tanger Arboretum" and thanks for your interest!

One important purpose of an arboretum is to provide an educational experience for those who would like to identify some of the beautiful trees they see and perhaps even write down some names of trees they might like to plant in their home gardens. This is where tree Identification tags become important.

As you may know, Tanger Arboretum now encompasses the full ten acres of the "History Campus". The original Tanger Arboretum encompassed roughly the Eastern one-half of the History Campus along the N President Avenue side. Some of the beautiful, mature specimens (how about that Beech Grove?) as well as some of the great, more recent plantings were in need of new signage. The NEW "Dwarf Conifer Reference Garden" temporarily looked a bit like "Minnie Pearl's hat" (of Grand Ole Opry fame) with the price and/or ID tag blowing in the wind and was ready for signage. The Western one-half of Tanger Arboretum, location of President James Buchanan's home "Wheatland", and location of predominately native trees, has never had identification tags.

IMG 2514We are in the process of installing new signage wherever needed throughout the arboretum. Our signs (see picture) will have the "common name" which most people will recognize and perhaps, more importantly, the "Latin name" including genus, species, and cultivar, and finally the country or area of origin. Without getting into too much taxonomy (see "Oregon State University, Scientific Plant Names") common names can be vague and inadequate. For example there are dozens of trees that are called "Cedar Trees", most of which are not true cedar trees at all, but if you say you want a Cedrus atlantica 'Sapphire Nymph' you can know you will get a small, slow growing, beautiful blue tree which will not outgrow even a small front yard.

As I walked about the Arboretum on this beautiful Spring day with many other visitors walking the paths, I noticed several people pointing at trees and writing down names. Come visit, and don't miss your opportunity to be inspired!

Many thanks to "Friend of Tanger" and neighbor Dennis Schmick for helping with placement of hundreds of name plates and to Howard Kauffman and Jeff Hazlett for help with tree ID and tag placement.

Enjoy the gardens,
Bob Davis

Written by Bob Davis, Tanger Arboretum


There's A Lot of Chirping Going On at the Arboretum...
Written by Kelly Seidle, Tanger Arboretum   

Black-capped20Chickadee20b57-12-036 l 1The Black-Capped Chickadee       [Photo Credit Audubon Field Guide]

I know this is the time of the year when most people stay nice and cozy in their homes. I’d like to give you a reason to put on a pair of boots, gloves and a warm coat to come outside. The Campus of History is home for cardinals, red bellied woodpeckers, tufted titmouse, wrens, blue jays, red-tailed hawks and many other types of birds. The month of March is such a fickle time of the year—warm spring like temperatures one day, bone chilling winds the next. But one thing is for sure our feathered friends are out and about taking every opportunity to scoop up bits of food and perform their singing skills. On this particular morning it’s 32 degrees and cloudy. I noticed a group of black-capped chickadees the moment I stepped away from my car and starting walking the grounds of the Arboretum. I got the sense they were actually following me, a group of four darting over my head keeping me clearly in their sight. I have to admit the chickadees are one of my favorite birds. I think it’s their cute Zorro-like mask appearance and playful antics they will display right in front of visitors. The chickadee is named for its "chick-a-dee-dee-dee" call. Slight changes in its call are used to claim territory, to warn off predators, and to greet other chickadees. I personally think they enjoy singing just to entertain and get your attention. Bravo chickadee, Bravo!


Great Horned Owl b13-37-168 lThe Great-Horned Owl  [Photo Credit Audubon Field Guide]Sometimes the sound of the bird’s song is what you will notice first and then it’s time to grab your binoculars. Case in point…if you’re out for an evening stroll at the Arboretum you may hear the courtship duet of the great horned owls. Be prepared for the haunting hoots “hoo-h’HOO-hoo-hoo”…the female’s voice recognizably higher in pitch than the males. Then point your binoculars carefully into the tall evergreen trees, and don’t be surprised if the owl is staring back at you!


So whatever time of the day suits you come over to the Tanger Arboretum and don’t let a grey, damp or dreary day keep you inside. I’m sure our feathered residents will put a smile on your face!

 You are invited.... To attend the Annual Dinner of the Friends of the Tanger Arboretum, featuring horticulturalist and native plant enthusiast Greggory Tepper. Tepper will provide an entertaining and informative lecture on using native plants in your home landscape to attract, and provide shelter for, our wonderful native birds. This lecture features five each of the best trees, shrubs, and plants for the home landscape that will appeal to both you and our feathered friends alike!

Date of the dinner is April 12, 2016. 5:30pm cash bar, followed by dinner at 6:15pm. Tickets are $35 per person. To learn more about the event and to make your reservation, please visit our "Upcoming Events" webpage

 Written by Kelly Seidle, Tanger Arboretum

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