Visit different areas of interest in the landscape, from microclimate hills to brooks to scenic overlooks of the Boston skyline. This 281-acre jewel in Olmsted’s Emerald Necklace of parklands is both a research center and museum of Harvard University and a beloved public landscape open free to the public every day.


Lilac Collection

Featured Plants & Areas of Interest

Plants are starting to break out of dormancy. Fresh green leaves are beginning to emerge and early blossoms brighten the landscape. Look for magnolia flowers, cherries, forsythia, early azaleas, crabapples, lilacs, and many more.

Guided Tours

See how much the Arboretum has to offer when you tour the landscape with one of our knowledgeable docents or expert staff. Tours are free and open to the public and cover various areas of the collections and landscape. Free, public tours are offered on Monday, Thursday and Saturday and Sunday. Join us for a special theme tour: Calling All Birders, The Arboretum’s First 25 Years, From Seed to Tree, When Lilacs in the Arboretum Bloomed. See the calendar for all upcoming tours.

Syringa vulgaris 'Hulda'

Tree of the Month

In May, look for our Tree of the Month, Syringa sp. (lilac). The lilac collection at the Arnold Arboretum is famous for the display of blossoms that delight spring visitors with both sights and scents. Within the collection is a wide variety of leaf shape, flower color, form, and fragrance. Get a sneak peek at the beautiful diversity of flowers from the comfort of your own home, via ArbPIX. Or if you are visiting, use your phone and search on ArbExplorer to locate the over 179 different kinds of lilacs that are part of the Arnold Arboretum’s living collection.


Visitor Center

Stop by the Visitor Center (located in the Hunnewell Building) and learn more about the Arboretum’s collections, history, and events. Need advice on where to explore? Friendly and experienced Visitor Engagement staff will suggest walking routes, answer questions, and share their Arboretum knowledge.

Classes and Lectures

Hear renowned speakers discuss topics, participate in stimulating discussions, and gain insight into some of the most fascinating areas of science, horticulture, landscape design, and ecology. Prefer a more hands-on experience? Register for a class or workshop and learn how to prune a plant, grow a mushroom, or upgrade your home garden. See the calendar for upcoming classes and lectures.

Paul Olson

Art at the Arboretum

Drawn to Paint
Paintings of Arboretum Trees by Paul Olson
May 10, 2019 – July 21, 2019
Opening Reception, Saturday, May 18, 1:00-3:00pm

Artist, Paul Olson, has been discovering the nuances of the Arnold Arboretum’s collections since he first passed through its gates in 2011. A landscape painter for decades, Olson explores the grounds with sketchbook in hand, typically in the early morning hours. His goal is to be unencumbered by any agenda and open to what the light of the day presents. In 2012, he had an exhibition at the Arnold Arboretum titled “Drawn to Woods.” The expressive ink drawings in that show were all completed en plein air – on-site in the open air. In this new show, Olson brings his on-site observations into the painting studio to work in color, reflecting on his real-world experience, but searching for that delightful sense of childlike discovery found in nature. These works on paper and canvas also feature paintings of bonsai from the Bonsai and Penjing collection here at the Arboretum.

Paul Olson is an instructor at his Alma Mater, Rhode Island School of Design, and also teaches in the Illustration Department at Massachusetts College of Art. He has exhibited in various group and solo shows in the US. Olson also makes pottery for bonsai and is an avid bonsai cultivator.

All art shows are free and open to the public. The Lecture Hall is also used for lectures, programs, meetings, and school groups, so please call 617.384.5209 for exhibition availability.