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Baker Arboretum

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The Baker Arboretum

P.O. Box One

Bowling Green, KY 42102


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The Downing Museum



Red Obelisk Beech behind the Antique lamp from Copenhagen.

Conifers by the Downing MuseumLight through a weeping Japanese MapleVarious conifers.Dragon's Eye pine in the fogFall foliage of a Bald Cypress


Go to our Visitor Information Page for more information.

What is an Arboretum?  

ar·bo·retum:  a place where trees, shrubs, and herbaceous plants are cultivated for scientific and educational purposes. Etymology: New Latin, from Latin, plantation of trees, from arbor.  Plural noun:  Arboreta

Similar to a botanical garden, an arboretum displays plants for educational, research and ornamental purposes.  Arboreta focus on trees and shrubs.

Both arboreta and botanical gardens play important roles in conservation and preservation.  They are places to see a greater range of plants that can grow in an area,see how to use different plants to create a pleasing landscape,  and to see mature plants to appreciate their ultimate sizes and characteristics.  An additional role is for people to have a green space to visit for the spiritual and emotional benefits of a quiet natural environment.

Founded in 1992 by Jerry Baker, the Baker Arboretum now covers nearly 115 acres.  Built on a ridge of rolling hills in the outskirts of Bowling Green Kentucky, the arboretum overlooks Bowling Green and the Western Kentucky University campus.  

Working with the tree and art collections, landscape architect Mitchell Leichhardt (1924-2015) designed a tapestry of trees and art.  Featuring many varieties of dogwoods, magnolias and other flowering trees, woven among the conifers and Japanese maples. 

Visitors will enjoy year-round highlights.  Not only spring and summer blooms, but also the fall color, featuring over 160 Japanese maples and the winter beauty of the conifers.


Jerry E. Baker photograph

Jerry E. Baker (1931-2017)

Jerry E. Baker, renowned south central Kentucky philanthropist, passed away at his home at the Baker Arboretum on Thursday, June 22, 2017. Mr. Baker was a longtime supporter of the arts and humanities in Kentucky, gifting his $17 million estate to WKU for the purpose of education and public enjoyment. Together with Mitchell Leichhardt (1924-2015) and Joe Downing (1925-2007), he founded and constructed the Baker Arboretum and Downing Museum. His history of support for local organizations is unrivaled and will continue to be felt across the region through his philanthropic endeavors. The true image of a gentleman, Mr. Baker will be missed by his many friends and colleagues. His obituary is listed on the JC Kirby & Son's Website.

 Mitchell Leichhardt

In Memory of Mitchell Leichhardt

Mitchell Leichhardt (1924-2015) was the guiding force behind the Baker Arboretum.  He was a close, lifelong friend of Jerry Baker.  They traveled the world, and returned with the vision for the arboretum.  His touch is throughout, the classic European design, from the conifer collection to the Japanese Maples.  We are among the many that he took under his wing and nurtured.  He will be greatly missed. His obituary is in the Bowling Green Daily News.


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 Last Modified 10/30/17