The Quaker way of life preserved for 300 years
Duck into the partially hidden garden along busy Germantown Avenue for a 2.5-acre oasis of color and scent at the historic Wyck House gardens. You’ll be whisked back to the Colonial and Victorian eras as you walk through the rose garden, vegetable garden, lawns and other plantings, many of which are direct descendents of the original 19th-century plantings.
As you stroll past the flower borders and low boxwoods that accent Wyck’s gardens, feel free to talk roses with your guide. The ornamental rose garden blooms with more than 30 varieties of old roses.
The history of Wyck House is as colorful as its gardens. Now on the National Register of Historic Places, Wyck was a peaceful 50 acre farmstead that was settled by Quakers. During the Battle of Germantown, Hessian troops seized the house and used it as a field hospital, an 18th-century MASH unit.
Over the next 300 years, the family made its mark on the Philadelphia community, including founding the Pennsylvania School of Horticulture of Ambler (now Temple University Ambler), along with numerous horticultural research projects and inventions including a patented device to press apples for a more natural tasting juice.
In dramatic contrast to its modern city neighborhood, Wyck’s quiet landscape prepares visitors for time travel as they tour the house and grounds. Experience three centuries of gardening on the property, established in the early rural Colonial layout of woodlot, vegetable and herb gardens and ornamental gardens.
Because this landscape has been faithfully renewed and restored over the years, a stroll through the formal rose garden as you approach the house transports you to the 1820s. A walk to the other side of the house reveals an expanse of lawn with handsome trees that evokes the pastoral landscapes of the 19th Century. Don’t miss the 18th-century barnyard area where vegetable crops now grow.
Wyck’s gardens were a significant part of the lives of the Wistar and Haines families, who lived here from 1690 to 1973. For more than nine generations they preserved the historic plantings and layout, with the period 1912 to 1935 being the most recent time of renewal. The house, remodeled in 1824 by the famous architect William Strickland, contains an extensive family library of early horticultural books, as well as furnishings and possessions that illustrate Philadelphia Quaker life.
Open April – December, Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays. Other hours by appointment. Fee for tours. Log onto wyck.org for details.
The Revolutionary Germantown Festival, held the first Saturday in October.
Bring your camera when the old roses bloom in late May and early June. The vegetable garden and perennial border are at their best in mid to late summer.
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In the neighborhood
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One Awbury Road Philadelphia, PA 19138
- Germantown White House
- Historic RittenhouseTown
- Ebenezer Maxwell Mansion
- Historic Germantown Visitor Center
- The Johnson House Historical Site, Inc.
- Revolutionary Germantown Festival
- Juneteenth Festival
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