History of Adkins Arboretum

Adkins Arboretum was originally slated in 1972 to be the Maryland state arboretum on the grounds of Tuckahoe State Park, a 4,000-acre park bordered by the Tuckahoe Creek in Caroline County. In 1980, the Arboretum opened with a donation from its first benefactor, Leon Andrus, a native of Queen Anne's County. The Arboretum was named after the Adkins family, an Eastern Shore family who were avid conservationists and longtime friends of Andrus. Andrus also established a private foundation, the Friends of Adkins Arboretum, to oversee the Arboretum's development. In 1989, Leon Andrus died at age 101, leaving a bequest to the Arboretum's endowment.

Leon Andrus speaking at Arboretum Founding

Arboretum benefactor Leon Andrus speaking at the Arboretum's founding on May 19, 1980.

The Arboretum was founded with the mission of displaying all of the forest types of Maryland. By the late 1990s, with a new mission in place to display and study the indigenous plant communities of the Delmarva Peninsula, the Friends of Adkins Arboretum proposed to the state that they manage the Arboretum. A public/private partnership was made official in 1998 with the state granting a 50-year lease to the Friends of Adkins Arboretum.

Today the Arboretum is self-supporting, receiving grants from federal and state agencies and from private foundations, as well as donations from members and income from program fees, and gift shop and plant sales.