A Rainy-Day Walk at Bartram’s Garden, Philadelphia

The area Bartram’s Garden occupies is very picturesque with beautiful views of the Schuylkill River just beyond the main house. Humans have inhabited the area since prehistoric time, leaving bits behind for archaeologists to discover.

In somewhat more recent history, the 17th Century, Swedish settlers also called the location home. In the 18th Century, John Bartram, co-founder with Benjamin Franklin of the American Philosophical Society, purchased the land from the Swedish settlers and began to collect all the plants and trees he could find. His son, William Bartram continued his work. Many trees and plants in America can trace their roots back to Bartram’s work and this very garden!

Bartram's Garden
The barn at Bartram’s Garden.

Just beyond the barn and welcome area, we discovered the oldest Ginko in North America!

As Philadelphia grew, the area was in danger of being developed for city living. However, several wealthy patrons preserved the area and today, the Philadelphia Parks and Recreation Department makes sure the buildings and plants are protected. More about the history can be found at http://www.bartramsgarden.org/ along with information about visiting.

Along with conservation work and the occasional wedding reception, Bartram’s Garden will welcome anyone to its beautiful estate with rolling hills where you can completely escape modern Philadelphia. Not much has changed in 250 years which is fine with me.

Look! It's the city. Far, far away.
Look! It’s the city and the 21st Century. Far, far away.

Visiting Bartram’s Garden was on my list of 18th Century things to do in Philadelphia and Frank was in the mood to take nature photos so we ventured although not in appropriate clothes. It’s way too humid these days.

Here I am by the main house. Frank decided to take a series of photos of me with my umbrella.
Here I am by the main house. Frank decided to take a series of photos of me with my umbrella.

The main house has a rather interesting stone facade. On one side, there is stucco covering the stone. On the other, the stone is visible. There are two, maybe three, rough-hewn columns on either side of the porch, that are rather unique on an otherwise very straightforward 18th Century home. You can just about make them out in the photo. I’ll be on the lookout for other examples.

The inside of the home will have to wait. I can hardly call on the family dressed in a dirndl. I’ll need my sacque gown for visiting!


The grounds are beautiful and as close to going back in time as one can get. I almost expected Elizabeth Bennett to come popping out of somewhere…

This is a very charming pond with lilies.


I am very find of thistle. I need to find out if this can grow in a pot because since my rose bush has perished, it would be nice to have something else that flowers.

Bartram’s Garden has picnic facilities so we will return in the fall, when the colors are coming in and the weather is a little cooler, for a period picnic.


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