History of Adkins Arboretum

In 1972, Adkins Arboretum was slated 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 resident 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. Upon his death in 1989 at age 101, Leon Andrus left 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 the forest types of Maryland. By the late 1990s, with a new mission in place to display and study the Delmarva Peninsula's indigenous plant communities, 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.