You’re never far from a park in Philadelphia. A bench under a shade tree is an ideal place to relax or read a newspaper and can always be found just around a corner. Philly, however, has much more than neighborhood parks of peace and reflection. Some of the country’s earliest and most impressive gardens are located here. So next time you need a dose of self-renewal or simply a place in which to reconnect with nature, check out these top botanical gardens around the City of Brotherly Love.
1001 Longwood Road
Kennett Square, PA 19348
The du Pont family is known for having founded one of the world’s largest chemical companies, but around Philadelphia, fabulous grounds and vibrant gardens are synonymous with the du Pont name. Pierre S. du Pont is credited with creating Longwood Gardens, a kaleidoscopic floral paradise covering more than 1,000 acres. Meticulously landscaped gardens feature domestic and exotic beds of blooms that change seasonally. In addition, an indoor children’s garden, Italian water garden, topiary, orangery, waterlily pond, waterfalls, fountains, sprawling greenhouse, museum and special events and performances make this one of the premier botanical gardens in the entire nation.
Winterthur Museum, Garden And Library
5105 Kennett Pike
Wilmington, DE 19735
Winterthur’s garden was designed by Henry Francis du Pont, who was given the distinction by the Garden Club of America as being one of the best master gardeners United States has ever produced. The 60-acre naturalistic wonderland is filled with woodland trees, dogwoods, rhododendrons, azaleas and wild flowers. Profusions of seasonal blooms, including peonies, day lilies and rudbeckia, pop out of the dense ground cover. Miles of paths, meandering streams, a reflecting pool and the three-acre Enchanted Woods children’s garden make Winterthur a place of pure magic.
Related: Winterthur Museum Garden & Library
5400 Lindbergh Blvd.
Philadelphia, PA 19143
One of only a smattering of identified prehistoric locations in southwest Philadelphia, Bartram’s Garden is considered the earliest botanical garden in the nation that’s still alive and thriving. Named after John Bartram, a devout Quaker who purchased the land in 1728, the plot is now a beautiful 46-acre garden along the Schuylkill River. It features an expansive collection of native North American flowers and plants as well as ancient trees, a river trail, water garden and meadow with a stunning view of the Philly skyline. Pay for a tour or explore the grounds on your own. Don’t miss our nation’s oldest ginkgo tree and the finicky Franklinia alatamaha, a flowering shrub named for Benjamin Franklin.
100 E. Northwestern Ave.
Philadelphia, PA 19118
The University of Pennsylvania purchased this property from the Morris family in 1932 and transformed the Chestnut Hill summer estate into the Morris Arboretum. The interdisciplinary resource center is now the official arboretum of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. Visitors can stroll through the 92-acre Victorian landscape to discover streams, sculptures and gardens bursting with 12,000 labeled plants and flowers. Make sure to explore the Out On a Limb 50-foot-high canopy walk, where you can get a bird’s eye view of the lush trees below.
Shofuso Japanese House And Garden
Philadelphia, PA 19131
The Shofuso Japanese House and Garden made its way to Philly in 1876 for the Centennial Exposition. While the property has changed over the years, it has always reflected the traditional Japanese values of goodness, truth and beauty and ranks as of the top three Japanese gardens in North America. The tranquil, 1.2-acre site welcomes visitors to step back in time to 17th-century Japan with lush green lawns, cherry blossoms, rock walls and goldfish ponds.
Related: Top Parks In Philadelphia
Susan DeFeo has been a professional writer since 1997. She served as a community events columnist for New Jersey’s “Cape May County Herald” for more than a decade. A writer for numerous online publications, Susan has covered health, fitness, beauty and travel, all subjects that are near and dear to her as a married mother of seven children. Her work can be found at Examiner.com.