Morris Arboretum

Morris Arboretum
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Patrick Dougherty Stickwork Sculpture: Loop de Loop

Stickwork Sculpture by Patrick Dougherty
Loop de Loop

Videos by Dave Tavani

For three weeks in March 2019, artist Patrick Dougherty worked with Arboretum staff and volunteers to create a whimsical, site-specific sculpture in the Butcher Sculpture Garden.

The piece, named Loop de Loop, is reminiscent of a roller coaster with its numerous spirals and switchbacks. The top of the sculpture is bound together with sticks wound like pieces of twine, connecting nearly a dozen rooms below. One gallery blends into the next through a maze of light-filled tunnels.

The sculpture was created using hundreds of willow sticks and saplings including purple willow (Salix purpurea) and Miyabe willow (Salix miyabeana) from upstate New York. The piece will remain in place for as long as it lasts in the natural environment, anticipated to be two years.

Kids playing in Loop de Loop

About the Artist and Installation

Patrick Dougherty combines his love of nature with his skills as a carpenter. Utilizing primitive techniques of building, Patrick uses tree saplings as construction materials, recognizing them as a renewable resource which everyone can relate to. Loop de Loop was created in three weeks (March 9-29, 2019) using hundreds of willow sticks and saplings including purple willow (Salix purpurea) and Miyabe willow (Salix miyabeana) from upstate New York. The piece will remain in place for as long as it lasts in the natural environment, anticipated to be two years. During his long career, Patrick has created almost 300 large-scale, temporary sculptures at gardens, universities, and museums throughout the world. To learn more, visit

Located in the sculpture garden. Click here for a Visitor Map.

Videos by Dave Tavani

Patrick Dougherty’s Newest Stickwork Now on Exhibit

Back by popular demand—renowned artist Patrick Dougherty returned to the Morris Arboretum for his third visit in March, to create one of his signature stickwork sculptures. Dougherty’s first exhibit for the Arboretum, Summer Palace, debuted in 2009, followed by Waltz in the Woods in 2015. Once his sculptures are erected, they remain in the garden for approximately one to two years, or as long as they last in the natural elements. Dougherty’s newest creation is named Loop de Loop and resides in the Madeleine K. Butcher Sculpture Garden, which has perfect site lines to be seen from many points of the garden.

“The public loves the enormous scale of Patrick’s work, which is typically 20 feet high, combined with the intimacy of being able to enter the woven structures to peek out through the windows and openings from inside,” says Susan Crane, Morris Arboretum’s Director of Marketing. “Loop de Loop is a kids’ hide-and-seek wonderland with about a dozen rooms to explore.”

“Patrick’s structures have no nails or hardware that hold them together aside from the strength of the woven sticks and branches,” says Crane. “For a public garden to have such a natural and dramatic piece of art is so special.”

About the Materials: Willows

A Waltz in the Woods was created from willow saplings. Below are the specific types.

For the Main Towers:
Salix purpurea ‘Fish Creek’ – Fish creekpurple willow, used for the vast majority of the piece.
Zelkova serrata – Japanese zelkova, used as structural pieces.

For Dome Embellishments:
Salix alba 'Britzensis' – Britz white willow
Salix chaenomeloides - willow
Salix gracilistylavar. melanostachys – black bigcatkin willow


Patrick Dougherty Press

See Patrick Dougherty featured in Penn Today »

See Patrick Dougherty featured in UWISHUNU Philadelphia »

See Patrick Dougherty featured in PhillyVoice »

Learn more about the work of Patrick Dougherty at

This exhibit is supported in part by the Madeleine K. Butcher Fine Arts Endowment.

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Alerts & Updates

Member Dividend Plant Distribution!

Thursday, September 17 - Wednesday, September 30
Fernery Plaza
Advance Tickets Required for Member Dividend Plant Pick Up

Members, we are excited to share Arboretum plants with you! That's right - a free plant for being a member. New (like so many things) this year, there are two locations and two timeframes for picking-up your member dividend plant:

The plant selection will be varied throughout the distribution dates. Dividends are from the Arboretum's collection of propagated plants from our greenhouse. This is your opportunity to bring a piece of the Arboretum to your home garden or neighborhood!

Individual, Dual, Family, Beech, and Chestnut members may select one plant per membership. Holly, Oak, Laurel, and Collectors Circle member may select two plants per membership.  Reserve tickets now.

Map of the Arboretum

Due to the weather and flooding, the Arboretum is closed today Tuesday, August 4th.

Advance Tickets Required for All Visitors (Including Members)

The Morris Arboretum is excited to be open! We have instituted new policies as required by the government of Pennsylvania in order to keep the public safe while visiting. Please review the policies below before your visit.

  • The City of Philadelphia mandates that all visitors age 2 and older wear face coverings.
  • If you feel sick, stay home.
  • The Visitor Center, the Shop, and Compton Café are temporarily closed, but picnicking will be permitted in certain areas.
  • The Fernery and the Log Cabin are temporarily closed.
  • Restrooms are open and sanitized regularly.
  • Hand sanitizing stations throughout the Arboretum.
  • Bring your own water and snacks.
  • Library passes and RAP reciprocal admissions are not accepted at this time.
Reserve Tickets Now

Unfortunately, Out on a Limb will be closed on Wednesday, January 29th through Friday, January 31, 2020 due to scheduled maintenance.

The Garden Railway will not be operational from 2:00 PM Friday (July 19) through the weekend (July 20-21). The trains will open for normal operation on Monday, July 22nd. Our Train Master reported that the trains will not operate in the excessive heat, citing electrical, track and rolling stock failures.

The Arboretum is open as usual. Click here for hours.

Garden Railway trains are not running Saturday, September 8th and Sunday, September 9th due to inclement weather.

Please note: The Rose Garden is closed for maintenance every Thursday morning until noon.

Weather conditions may limit garden access to certain features even if the garden is open – please check the web site or call (215) 247-5777 for updates before visiting. Our visitors’ safety in the garden is our top priority. Therefore when inclement weather is predicted, we will make decisions about closing the garden accordingly.