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Mar 16, 2018

Top 6 Gardens In The Heart of Philadelphia

With spring approaching, flowers are blooming and America’s own Garden Capital is ready to blow your mind with the best of its flora and fauna. Offering everything from traditional Japanese gardens to the Morris Arboretum of the University of Pennsylvania, there’s much to learn from the following gardens at the heart of Philadelphia.

No, you don’t need to be a gardening expert or have a green thumb to enjoy the spellbinding fields and arboretums in Philadelphia. Tens of thousands of people from all around the world have come to experience the tranquility of Philly's tranquil gardens, oftentimes referring to them as their ‘little getaways’. Entrance fees and classes are affordable so, you don’t have a bust a budget during spring break. Just gather the kids, family, and friends and you’re ready to have a relaxing weekend outdoors in the manicured garden of your choice. 

Peaceful Japanese Garden with Pagoda

1. Shofuso Japanese House and Garden

Lansdowne Dr & Horticultural Dr, Philadelphia, PA 19131
(215) 878-5097
Clock into this amazing traditional Japanese garden and you’ll feel as if you’ve stepped right out of the Philadelphia charter bus and into a whole new different era. Gifted by Japan to American as an act of friendship, the garden symbolizes the post-war peace between the two countries. At the time of its construction, it was the first to showcase such a deep combination of Japanese contemporary art against an American backdrop. Small as it may be, it is a relaxing respite from the hustle and bustle of downtown Philly. There are guides available to take groups around the attraction and much is explained throughout the tour. The traditional 17th-century Japanese house and garden in Fairmount Park serves well over 30,000 visitors annually, while its Nio-Mon Temple Gate, also known as the ‘Japanese Pagoda’ and lotus pond, are absolute show-stealers. If you’re keen, the establishment offers garden workshops, lessons on tea-drinking and ceremonies, Taiko lessons for kids and adults, and classical Japanese dance lessons are also available all year round. 

2. Bartram’s Garden

5400 Lindbergh Blvd, Philadelphia, PA 19143
(215) 729-5281
John Bartram was a well-known botanist, explorer, plant collector and the founder of Bartram’s Garden; the garden and home are strategically located off of the alluring west banks of Schuylkill River. Bartram went on to develop both the home and garden as a part of his hobby and lifestyle, and the garden, today, is the oldest surviving botanic garden of its kind in the United States. The garden offers free admission for all and is open all year round except for City-observed holidays. Apart from reliving history through the tours, there are special events like its annual spring plant sale, Mother’s Day event, and greens sales held at its 46-acre grounds. The guides would happily share nuggets of information about the garden, history of the Bartram family and Philadelphia, while you unwind with a walk along Schuylkill River. During warmer weathers, patrons can sign up for a river cruise to the Bartram’s Garden to and from Philly city center.

3. James G. Kaskey Memorial Park  

Carolyn Lynch Laboratory, 433 S University Ave, Philadelphia, PA 19104
(215) 898-7175
Truth be told, if the locals had it their way, especially the students from the University of Pennsylvania, this hidden gem would not be listed on Yelp, Tripadvisor or any other travel websites or printed materials. The oldest green space on the University grounds, the history of the park goes as far back as the late 1800s, and it has always been the go-to place to get away from the noise of the bustling city center. Secluded and almost-secretive, kids will have a field day wandering around the green space, splashing in the waterfall while there are walking trails snaking its way around the garden. If ‘Zen’ is what you’re looking for in Philly, this is as verimilliar as you will get. 

4. Bowman's Hill Wildflower Preserve

1635 River Rd, New Hope, PA 18938
(215) 862-2924
Bring out your favorite, most comfortable sneakers and get ready for a bit of a walk around Bowman’s Hill Wildflower Preserve in New Hope after approximately an hour’s charter bus drive from downtown Philadelphia. Right ‘across the aisle’ from the busiest city of Pennsylvania and with nearly 2,000 native species of plants and vegetation from around Pennsylvania’s meadows, forests and woodlands, it is the perfect place to learn the ropes on how to become a naturalist. The preserve also holds events, workshops, and classes like the Children’s Summer Reading, Nature Buddies, Nature Exploration, and talks related to topics like ecology and local conservation efforts. Thanks to its location next to Pidcock Creek and the graceful Delaware River, it serves as an excellent spot for both photography and bird-watching. It remains committed to its main mission of educating and spreading the love for our diverse natural world. Although any time of the year is a good time to visit this preserve, spring, summer and fall are undoubtedly the best times!

5. Chanticleer Garden

786 Church Rd, Wayne, PA 19087
(610) 687-4163
Less than 45 minutes away from downtown Philadelphia is a true hidden gem in the form of Chanticleer Garden; its name was derived from the French word for ‘rooster’. Peaceful, laid-back, unhurried, serene, green and possessing an all-encompassing charm, you can either don your walking shoes and explore the 48-acre landscape or paint, draw or simply read a book and relax. It is, however, an alphabet soup of gardens, namely Chanticleer House, Asian woods, Pond Garden, Teacup Garden, Minder Woods, Tennis Court Garden, 'The Ruin' Garden, Gravel Garden, Bell's Run, Bulb Meadow and many more! You can’t help but feel that everything in the garden has been touched by the loving hands of someone who loves history and nature. Visitors are more than welcome to tour the estate from April to October. 

6. Philadelphia's Magic Gardens

1020 South St, Philadelphia, PA 19147
(215) 733-0390
The Magic Gardens is more than just your ordinary outdoor space - filled to the brim with explosively creative art installations and with an indoor gallery, there are colorful folk art and contemporary masterpieces being displayed throughout the grounds. It remains to be the largest work of art by mosaic artist, Isaiah Zagar. Be it bicycle parts, recycled bottles, broken mirrors or tiles, the artists behind each personal narrative shows the world that anything, literally anything, can be turned into an inspiring, thought-provoking piece of art. Spanning half a block in Isaiah Zagar’s visionary art environment, the history of how the Zagars turned this desolate and possibly-dangerous corner of Philadelphia (when it was set for demolition) became a true rags-to-riches story. What’s even more interesting is the fact that the Philadelphia Magic Garden is a work-in-progress, thanks to the continued efforts poured in by the local art community. The attraction can be packed during peak season, hence, booking your tickets ahead of time comes highly recommended. 

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