Attraction

Bartram’s Garden

America’s birthplace of gardening

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Photo by R. Kennedy for VISIT PHILADELPHIA®
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Overview

This oasis of quiet fields and modest 18th-century farm buildings is where gardening first took root in America.

Today at Bartram’s Garden, visitors can join a morning bird walk, catch a breeze along the River Trail, stroll through the upper kitchen garden and the fragrant flower gardens, or visit the riverside meadow, which brims with grasses and wildflowers.

With its riverfront location and beautiful view of the Philadelphia skyline, Bartram’s Garden also appeals to more active visitors.

The dock, with access to the lower Schuylkill River, is a popular put-in for boats.

The History

John Bartram purchased the 102-acre farm along the west bank of the lower Schuylkill River in 1728, and turned it into America’s first garden.

The Bartrams are credited with identifying and cultivating more than 200 native plants.

For more than 50 years, John and his son William devoted themselves to the collection and study of North American plants, traveling far and wide to collect trees, shrubs and herbaceous plants for their own garden, as well as for other collectors at home and abroad.

The Bartrams are credited with identifying and introducing into cultivation more than 200 native plants. In 1765, King George III appointed John Bartram the “King’s Botanist” for North America, a position he held until his death in 1777. They supplied plants and seeds to horticultural enthusiasts in England and Europe throughout the 18th Century, and Washington ordered some for Mount Vernon.

Bartram’s heirs issued the first catalog of American plants and developed one of the first commercial plant nurseries in America.

In 1850, industrialist Andrew Eastwick purchased the garden to protect it from encroaching industry. Today, Bartram’s Garden includes a playground, ball fields and picnic areas as well as a boat dock.

Events & More

Special public programs are held throughout the year, including the native plant sale during the first week of May and the holiday green sale and open house in December.

Don’t Miss

Bartram’s Garden is home to the country’s oldest ginkgo tree and the delicate Franklinia alatamaha tree, two of the Bartrams’ most famous discoveries, which they saved from extinction and named for their friend, Ben.

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