Hidden in Philadelphia: America’s Oldest Botanical Garden

Philly is rich with early American landmarks, but here’s one you may be less familiar with: Bartram’s Garden on 54th Street and Lindbergh Boulevard is the oldest surviving botanical garden in the U.S. John Bartram, who was anointed “Royal Botanist” by King George III, officially founded it in 1728. But its history can be traced back much further. Artifacts found on this fertile ground—which you can see by appointment—indicate that Native Americans as far back as 3,000 BCE used it seasonally.

What You’ll See Despite its long history, the garden is far from stuck in the past. Today you can wander through its 45 acres and admiring flora like Franklinia, the garden’s signature flowering tree named for good ol’ Ben Franklin himself. You can also seek out a photo op with the oldest Ginkgo biloba tree in America. Be sure to spend some time in the meadow and soak up the view of Philly’s skyline.


Photo: All rights reserved by Toc and Barbara

What You Can Do Aside from guided tours of the garden and Bartram’s home, you can shop for native and rare plant varieties at the Bartram Nursery. Afterwards, cool off by signing up for an ice cream tour, where you’ll churn out the sweet treat fresh from an old-fashioned hand-crank machine. On summer Sundays, the boat to the Bartram tour cruises up the Schuylkill River, followed by an exclusive walk through the grounds.

Got garden fever this summer? Check out our flora-focused SideTour where you’ll stroll through seven Philly gardens—there’s a tour departing tonight!

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