New Morris center

Rosa 'All Ablaze' blazes cherry red in Burke Brothers' Tuscany exhibit, accenting classic Italian elements with bright flowers. (Ron Tarver / Staff photographer)

This is the work-in-progress over at Morris Arboretum - phase I of a new horticultural and education complex. The hort staff is expected to move in sometime in January, a welcome development for folks who basically work in a scrum  now. This is going up at the arboretum's Bloomfield Farm, set on 75 acres across Northwestern Avenue from the 92-acre gardens. Morris also plans to add a new building for classes, conferences and private events, but that's on hold while fundraisers get busy. Tough time to be raising money, for sure.

But the good/better news at the arboretum is the big jump in attendance over the last year - 74 percent - and a similar boost in membership. There are probably a couple of reasons for this, one being the idea that more folks are looking for things to do that don't entail a long drive and a hotel. Another is Morris' "Out on a Limb" exhibit, which is a huge hit. I visited on a quiet Tuesday morning in summer, figuring the place would be empty, and was surprised to find the "tree house" packed with families. Hanging out - literally - over the Wissahickon makes me a little queasy, but it appeared I was the only one getting dizzy. More power to everyone else.