Springtime is here, summertime is rolling in, and Philly is finally waking up from its long, winter hibernation. I think it is safe to say that we are all ready to break out our summer gear, head outdoors and take in some of Philly’s gorgeous natural beauty. Bartram’s Garden in Southeast Philadelphia is a great place to take in some fantastic scenery without having to leave the city.
Bartram’s Garden exists as a memorial and testament to the work of John Bartram, a preservationist and expert in horticulture, and widely considered America’s first Botanist, purchased the property in 1728. Today, the property is funded and maintained by the John Bartram Association, with the help of their 750 members. These generous and hardworking individuals allow Bartram’s Garden to remain open 365 days a year so that visitors may stroll the grounds and take advantage of their phenomenal programs.
Located along the banks of the Schuykill River, Bartram’s garden consists of 45 acres of intricate gardens, historic structures and winding trails, providing a spectacular opportunity to step out of the city into a fantastical wonderland. The garden offers endless sights including animals, plant life, views of the river and picturesque landscapes. There is also a full itinerary of events available including tours, kayaking, outdoor movies, live music, art workshops and children’s activities. With all of this amazing imagery and excitement so close to home we urge all Philadelphians (and Philly visitors) to make some time to experience everything that Bartram’s garden has to offer.
Staff member and expert on all things Bartram’s Garden, Pete Prown, gave us the inside scoop on the best way to experience the history, magnificence and fun of Bartam’s Garden. He urged everyone to take advantage of the tours offered by Bartram’s garden and strongly suggested visiting “the giant ‘cider wheel’ down on the riverbank [where] John Bartram used to make cider and sell it to thirsty customers who paddled down the Schuylkill River.” Prown also recommended a cruise on The Patriot, and a visit to the garden’s “Welcome Center for a selection of native and heirloom plants, snacks, gifts, and more.” Prown also praised the numerous children’s programs as well as the kayaking and paddling opportunities on the river. Most importantly, he felt that people should come out and “simply enjoy nature.”
Pete Prown explained that “Bartram’s Garden is America’s first botanical garden and we honor the Bartram entrepreneurial spirit today through programs that inspire curiosity and a passion for nature.” One of the association’s major goals is to “raise funds to provide hands-on environmental education lessons to nearly 9,000 Philadelphia school children annually, with a focus on the Southwest Philadelphia neighborhood.” They also host a “community farm and food resource center [which] provides vegetable starts, fresh produce, and garden plots to [their] neighbors, and is offered in partnership with the Agatston Urban Nutrition Initiative and the Pennsylvania Horticultural Society.” Moving forward, Bartram’s Garden is going to improve their accessibility by installing a footbridge across the Schuykill River and they are also in the process of adding new gardens and performing necessary renovations. Clearly, this organization is focused on improving the lives of Philadelphians in any way that they can, providing a beautiful space and giving back through their educational and charitable programs. Bartram’s Garden truly embraces the Philadelphia spirit of community and giving back. Start planning your visit now! You will not be disappointed!
Written by Patrick Kaisinger (Mike McCann Team Blogger Extraordinaire)