Arboretum

The Linda Hall Library’s grounds have been managed for more than 65 years as an urban arboretum, a garden of trees within the city.

Arboretum

When Herbert and Linda Hall bequeathed their estate for the purpose of establishing a public library, it was their wish that the grounds on which their former home stood be appropriately preserved and maintained so “that the surrounding trees and grass shall add beauty and dignity” to the Library. Working with noted Kansas City landscape architects, Hare and Hare, the Halls introduced a variety of trees that were not native to the Midwest.

Tree acquisition has been centered on obtaining unusual and underutilized trees that are adapted to the local environment. Careful selection and meticulous cultivation of plantings through the years have yielded an urban green space that is recognized as one of the Library’s most distinctive features. Today the 14-acre grounds surrounding the Library are home to some 300 trees representing 38 genera and 130 species. Highlights of the Arboretum include the Peony Gardens, which are located on the Northeast side of the grounds, and the 11 Champion Trees.

The grounds are open to the public from dawn to dusk. Pets on a leash are always welcome, but we ask that pet owners come prepared to clean up after their visit. To maintain the integrity of the grounds, we do not allow picnics or the placing of chairs/hammocks. The Arboretum is maintained to the highest of standards and your help in maintaining its cleanliness is greatly appreciated.

We’d like to extend a special thank-you to those patrons who have enhanced our grounds with generous donations. If you are interested in donating in support of the Arboretum of Linda Hall Library, please contact Patty Bowen, Director of Development at 816.926.8727 or email development@lindahall.org.


Map of the Arboretum

Coordinates for all the trees in the Arboretum were determined using GPS technology and loaded into ArcView mapping software to produce the map below. Point references on the map represent the location of individual trees on the Library’s grounds. Left-clicking on any point provides more detailed information and a photograph of the individual tree. The mapping project is made possible by generous support from the Westport Garden Club.


Self-Guided Tours

Explore the arboretum at your own pace on a free, self-guided tour. A brochure is available to print in advance or view on your mobile device:



Tree Peonies

The peony gardens are located on the northeast side of the grounds and are open to the public from dawn to dusk.

One of the earliest accounts of tree peonies was written by Ou-yang Hisu (1007-1072) and is titled “Record of the Tree Peonies of Loyang.” In this account Hisu says “as for the tree peony, this has no name but is merely referred to as ‘flower,’ meaning that in the empire the tree peony is the only true flower.” This record included names and descriptions of twenty three cultivars about which Hisu says, “… I now record only the most outstanding varieties, and rank them in order.”


Facts About Tree Peonies

  • Linda Hall Library’s collection of tree peonies was started in the early 1970s.
  • Tree peonies are propagated by grafting a tree peony bud onto an herbaceous peony root.
  • Tree peonies are not really “trees” but are deciduous shrubs.
  • In their native habitat in China, they can reach eight to ten feet tall.
  • In the United States they will grow in zones 4-8, requiring some winter weather in order to bloom.
  • The largest shrub on the grounds of Linda Hall Library is about 5′ tall and 5-6′ wide.