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Arnold Arboretum

Explorers Garden

Explorers Garden
Map for printing [pdf]

The Explorers Garden rests in a microclimate just below the summit of Bussey Hill. This nearly three acre (one hectare) site provides ideal growing conditions for many species that have been challenging to grow in less protected areas of the Arboretum. Currently, the garden showcases 460 plants representing 228 taxa (kinds), 90 genera, and 45 families.

As such, it has proven to be a perfect testing ground for plants collected in the expeditions of E. H. Wilson in the early 1900s to the NACPEC [pdf] (North American-China Plant Exploration Consortium) expeditions of our own time.

While many of the plants showcased here derive from Asia, the Explorers Garden also displays rare and/or marginally hardy American native plants such as Franklinia alatamaha and the Taxus floridana (Florida yew).


The beds of the Explorers Garden overflow with remarkable specimens including:

Search our inventory for additional accessions information or access our collections using your mobile device via Arboretum Explorer!


The main entry for Chinese Path and the Explorers Garden is along Bussey Hill Road. Look for signs and the path entrance located next to a bench about an eighth of a mile from the top of Bussey Hill. Chinese Path is a horseshoe-shaped path within the Explorers Garden; the southern entry begins at the intersection of Oak Path and Beech Path. Explorers Garden also contains an open lawn with planting beds on its edges, accessible from Bussey Hill Road. The Garden lies about a thirty-five minute walk from the Arborway Gate and a ten minute walk from the Centre Street Gate. It is about twelve minutes from the South Street Gate and twenty minutes from the Bussey Street Gate when accessed via Beech Path. If driving, park in front of the Centre Street Gate, the South Street Gate, or along Bussey Street.

Paths in the Explorers Garden are composed of grass and are not wheelchair accessible. In winter, access may be limited due to snow and ice; please use caution.

A sign at the western end of Chinese Path describes the role plant exploration has played in the development of Arboretum collections. A self-guided cellphone tour, Adventures in the Explorers Garden, highlights Arboretum plant explorers, exciting journeys, and fascinating plants introduced to North American gardens from all over the world.

How long should I explore?
Plan to spend at least thirty minutes walking along Chinese Path and exploring the plants around the open lawn.

Plan your visit to the Arboretum.


Search for related articles in Arnoldia, the magazine of the Arnold Arboretum.

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