The Greater Philadelphia / South Jersey area is home to some of the nation's oldest and most beautiful botanical gardens and arboretums. Within easy driving distance of almost any area location, you can find one of these gardens. We've chosen ten of our favorites, including a geographically diverse selection and a selection with offerings for all ages. We present these in alphabetical order and include links to the websites for each garden.
Just minutes from the Liberty Bell, Independence Hall and the Betsy Ross House is America's oldest living botanical garden, a pastoral 18th century homestead surrounded by the urban bustle of Philadelphia. You won't believe you are in the city when you see the wildflower meadow, majestic trees, river trail, wetland, stone house and farm buildings overlooking the Schuylkill River, and, of course, the historic botanical garden of American native plants.
A great place for the young to explore and discover the natural world. Located adjacent to the New Jersey State Aquarium on the Camden New Jersey waterfront, the Garden provides horticultural experiences for creative and imaginative play. The 4-acre interactive Garden includes an Amphitheater, Butterfly Garden, Carousel, Dinosaur Garden, Maze, Picnic Garden, Railroad Garden, Storybook Gardens and Treehouse.
Located on the Main Line in Wayne, Chanticleer is the former residence of chemical magnate Adolph Rosengarten, Sr. Now a "pleasure garden" designed to illustrate the beauty of the art of horticulture, Chanticleer features orchards of flowering trees with native wildflowers blooming in the woods, a vegetable garden, cut-flower garden and numerous fruit trees. A woodland garden carpeted with exotic groundcovers precedes a water garden surrounded by grasses and sweetsmelling herbs.
The region's and one of the world's premier horticultural display gardens, Longwood Gardens in Kennett Square PA, was created by industrialist Pierre S. du Pont and offers 1,050 acres of gardens, woodlands, and meadows; 20 outdoor gardens; 20 indoor gardens; spectacular fountains; and performing arts events including concerts, organ and carillon recitals, musical theatre, and fireworks displays. Longwood is open every day of the year and annually attracts more than 900,000 visitors.
The Morris Arboretum is an interdisciplinary center that integrates art, science and the humanities amidst thousands of rare and lovely woody plants. These include many of Philadelphia's oldest, rarest, and largest trees which are set in a romantic, 92-acre, Victorian landscape garden of winding paths, streams, flowers and special garden areas.
America's first zoo is located in Fairmount Park, Philadelphia and, in addition to its superb animal collection, offers a 42-acre Victorian garden with over 30,000 species of plant life. Among the more unique horticulture features include a 216-year-old English Elm planted by John Penn, William Penn's grandson; a rare Chinese Wingnut tree; and endangered American Chestnut trees.
The Scott Arboretum of Swarthmore College is a garden of ideas and suggestions. Encompassing more than 300 acres of the Swarthmore College campus and exhibiting over 4,000 kinds of ornamental plants, the Arboretum displays some of the best trees, shrubs, vines and perennials for use in the region.
The Japanese House and Garden (Shofuso) is one of the most notable and unusual attractions in Philadelphia. This shoin-zukuri (desk-centered) house, built in 16th century style, is located on the grounds of the Horticultural Center in the West Philadelphia section of Fairmount Park. The perfectly proportioned architecture of the main structure and adjoining tea house is enhanced by an ornamental garden and picturesque pond.
Located in Media, Delaware County, the Tyler Arboretum is one of the oldest and largest arboreta in the northeastern United States, encompassing 650 acres of horticultural collections, rare specimens, ancient trees, historic buildings, and extensive hiking trails. Highlights include an 85-acre Pinetum, the Stopford Family Meadow Maze, Pink Hill and 450 uncultivated acres which remain natural and contain 20 miles of marked trails much used by hikers, birders and naturalists.
Located on Route 52, in the Brandywine Valley, six miles northwest of Wilmington, DE, Winterthur is less than an hour south of Philadelphia. It has color throughout the year which may be seen on a narrated tram ride or self-guided walk featuring early spring blooming plants, hillsides of daffodils, eight acres of mature and rare azaleas and rhododendrons, a Quarry Garden with rare primulas, Sundial Garden, reflecting pool and ponds, and a 3-acre children's garden - the Enchanted Woods.