Swarthmore College's Scott Arboretum Receives $800,000 Gift

By Becky Robert
Swarthmore College’s Scott Arboretum Receives $800,000 Gift

William H. Frederick, Jr. '48 (center) with Scott Arboretum Director Claire Sawyers and attorney Donald H. Sparks, II.

Among Swarthmore College's distinguishing characteristics is its status as an arboretum campus. Recently, one of the Scott Arboretum's most ardent backers demonstrated his support through a gift of $800,000. William H. Frederick, Jr. '48 initiated the contribution to establish the William H. Frederick, Jr. '48 Endowment for the Directorship of the Scott Arboretum.

Frederick has enjoyed a long and meaningful relationship with the Arboretum since working as an intern for the Arboretum some seven decades ago as a student at Swarthmore. Upon signing the gift commitment, Frederick said, "It feels wonderful; like it completes the circle of my life."

Read more about Frederick and his gift in the Philadelphia Inquirer.

Regarding his intentions for the gift, Frederick issued a statement in which he wrote: "This gift is made in an attempt to assure the future of the Scott Arboretum through the many changes in our society which may come with time. . . . In such matters I feel the founder's broad intentions must be the primary guideline. Mr. Scott wished to help spread the culture of horticulture by visual demonstration."

The statement continues: "My own association with Scott Arboretum (then known as the Arthur Hoyt Scott Horticultural Foundation) started in the summer of 1944. It came as a wonderful surprise to meet John Wister, the founding director, Gertrude Smith (later 'Wister'), his assistant, and Harry Wood, superintendent of buildings and grounds. I spent every spare minute and two summers 'working' for this trio. It is hard to explain adequately the significance of these events except to say that it did convert me from becoming a lawyer and did assure a very happy career as a nursery operator, landscape designer/architect, a lecturer, and writer in the fields of horticulture and garden design."

This is the single largest gift to the Arboretum during Director Claire Sawyers' 24-year tenure. "This special gift, initiated by Bill, feels amazingly supportive and generous, and comes at a fortuitous time as the Arboretum has just commenced a new planning process with the completion of paying for the Wister Education Center at the end of 2013," Sawyer says. "By offsetting significant ongoing costs with this new endowment fund, we will have new, stable resources going forward, allowing us to plan with the means in hand to accomplish new goals. This gift is particularly meaningful to me as Bill has been a leader and mentor to me since the time I became a Longwood Graduate Fellow in the early 1980s."

"So many visitors to our campus comment on the spectacular and distinctive setting for living and learning provided by our beautiful arboretum campus," says President Rebecca Chopp. "We are extremely grateful for Bill Frederick's thoughtful and generous gift that will further ensure the stability of our arboretum for years to come."

Frederick received the Royal Horticulture Society's prestigious Veitch Memorial Medal (rarely given to Americans) in 2006. He is the author of two classic books: One Hundred Great Garden Plants (1975) and The Exuberant Garden and the Controlling Hand (1992). He is currently working on a third book, due out in early 2015, which will outline "the making of a garden across 45 years" and will include an accounting of his education as a garden maker. Frederick has served distinguished tenures on the boards of Longwood Gardens in Kennett Square, Pa., and Callaway Gardens in Pine Mountain, Ga.

The Scott Arboretum is an educational garden of ideas and suggestions. Covering more than 300 acres of the Swarthmore College Campus and exhibiting more than 4,000 different kinds of plants, the Arboretum displays some of the best trees, shrubs, perennials, and annuals for use in the Delaware Valley. Established in 1929 as a living memorial to Arthur Hoyt Scott, the Arboretum is open to the public year-round free of charge, from dawn to dusk. Adam Levine of Garden Design magazine described the Scott Arboretum of Swarthmore College as "the most beautiful campus in America." Office hours are Monday through Friday, 8:30 a.m. to noon and 1 to 4:30 p.m. For more information, please call the Arboretum Offices at 610-328-8025.