Beauty and Mystery in Druid Hill Park

Cylburn Arboretum

Autumn Colors at Cylburn

Volunteers of the Cylburn Arboretum Association Inc. help keep the park beautiful. Here they repair a path on a warm November day. Jesse Tyson, the first owner of Cylburn, and his wife Edyth planted many trees in the late 19th Century. A tree and shrub map on the Association web site shows locations. The specimens, up to 150 years old, are such “notable trees” as Japanese maple, sugar maples, Ginkgos, dawn redwoods, conifers, beeches, magnolias, weeping cherry trees, boxwoods, longleaf pines, paw-paw, China fir, Atlas cedar and black walnut. The trees were developed into a full collection from 1958 to 1994 under the care of Gerald Moudry, chief horticulturist of Baltimore City.


No Tree Climbing, Please

Arnold Blume, a retired school teacher, strolls around Cylburn on his first visit and declares it “beautiful” and “wonderful”. A yoga class is doing its backbends and other poses in a big circle on one lawn. Couples walk hand in hand and stop to inspect the flowers. Scattered around the green park are benches, birds, butterflies, chipmunks, squirrels, bushes, flowers and a few children. But a sign on one inviting tree with low-hanging branches says “Please don’t climb the tree.” An arboretum is a place where trees, shrubs and herbaceous plants are grown for educational and scientific purposes. Cylburn also has a Nature Museum attracting families to the Carriage House and classrooms in the Greenhouse Complex.

Public Gardens Since 1954

Visitors can walk and inspect the peaceful grounds of Cylburn in 60 to 90 minutes. The beautiful Mansion property draws more people than the partly closed insides of the Renaissance Revival building completed in 1868. George Frederick, the architect of City Hall, designed the mansion as the home of Jessie Tyson (1826-1906), flour and chemical businessman. The city bought the property at auction in 1942 for $42,000 although it was valued at far more. The Board of Recreation and Parks began the Cylburn Wildflower Preserve and Garden Center in 1954. This became Cylburn Arboretum in 1982. The park is near the Cylburn neighborhood of mostly African-American residents.

A Cozy City Park

Cylburn Arboretum is a lovely Baltimore city park located conveniently a few miles north of Druid Hill Park at 4915 Greenspring Avenue, the road that cuts through Druid Hill. Cylburn features a rich collection of 15 gardens scattered around the Mansion House. Seasonal flowers include roses, daylilies, dahlias, daffodils and other flowers. The 207-acre park is free and open all year. The gate opens at 8 a.m. and closes at 5 p.m. The preserve is closed Mondays. People can walk on paved paths by lawns and trees and on three miles of dirt trails in woods. The Vollmer Center for visitors, open from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., has exhibits, lectures, dinners and other events a few steps from ample parking.