Bartram’s Garden

Philadelphia, Pennsylvania (PA)

Bartram’s Garden is a place of beauty, botany, and untold secrets. Anyone visiting the park has the opportunity to take something different from their experience; what will this place mean to you?

Discover Bartram’s Garden

Bartram's Garden, located in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, is North America’s oldest botanical garden. Positioned on the banks of the Tidal Schuylkill River, the 50-acre public garden boasts a rich history, having been founded by one of the most influential botanists of the 18th century, John Bartram.

Today, the garden is a National Historic Landmark and has established itself as an outdoor classroom providing information on botany and the history of Southwest Philadelphia. It also contains an extensive collection of documents pertaining to the history of the garden and serves as a venue for art. A wander through the garden instils feelings of peace, rest, and a deep connection with the natural world.

Bartram's Garden

The Origins of Bartram’s Garden and its Dramatic History

Origin Story

John Bartram was a self-taught botanist who began collecting and studying plants in the early 18th century. Given his lifelong devotion to plants, he established his own garden on a 102-acre farm in Kingsessing Township, in September 1728. It was created for personal use, to grow and study both native and exotic plants. However, it wasn’t long before Bartram – a naturally curious soul – was discovering new specimens and making substantial scientific achievements.

These discoveries led Bartram’s Garden to become a hub for scientific inquiry and exchange. Bartram even began exchanging plant materials and information with his London correspondent, Peter Collinson. With garden culture revolutionising in England at the time, seeds from Bartram’s Garden were highly sought after and a flourishing trade in plants began. Bartram even supplied specimens to the royal gardens of England and in 1765 was appointed the “King’s Botanist” by King George III.

War in Bartram’s Garden

The garden remained in the Bartram family for generations, and during the Revolutionary War, it played a key role in the battle for American independence. The British troops occupying Philadelphia used the garden as a base, but the Bartram family secretly supported the American cause. They passed information to American troops and even smuggled weapons and supplies through the garden.

Opening Bartram's Garden up to the Public

After the war, and John Bartram’s death in 1777, his sons William Bartram and John Bartram Jr expanded the botanic garden and plant nursery. They also continued in their father’s footsteps, trading plants. This practice continued even after Bartram's Garden passed from their ownership into John Jr’s daughter’s possession. Ann Bartram Carr and her husband Colonel Robert Carr, shipped as many as 2,000 different species of plants worldwide.

Ann Bartram Carr became the first Bartram to open the garden up to the public. She planted a small garden and welcomed others to revel in the enjoyment and peace that could be found in the simple green space.

Out of Bartram’s Hands

Due to financial reasons, Ann had to relinquish possession of the garden in 1850, where it finally slipped from Bartram hands. It wasn’t until 1879, when the new owner Andrew Eastwick had passed away, that a campaign was set up to protect the garden. Consequently, the City of Philadelphia assumed control of the site in 1891 and finally it could be preserved for future generations.

The John Bartram Association

From 1879 until 1891, the garden fell into disrepair and was heavily neglected. Buildings had crumbled and much of the plant specimens had died or been stolen. In 1893, the non-profit John Bartram Association was founded to support the City of Philadelphia’s management of Bartram’s Garden. Having been founded by – and until the 1930s largely composed of – Bartram’s descendants, the Association focused loyally on restoring the historic buildings and plant life.

Under the Association’s careful management, Bartram Garden was brought back to life. With the help of dedicated volunteers and partners it is now a thriving public garden, welcoming over 100,000 visitors annually.

Indigenous Connections

The land upon which Bartram’s Garden was established is known as Lenapehoking, the traditional land of the Lenape people. During the introduction of Dutch, French, and English settlers to Indigenous America, the Lenape people were forced from their lands. Today the garden’s management seeks to recognise and celebrate the indigenous connections that Bartram’s Garden has to the land and the Lenape peoples, with its themed Native American Garden.

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Boating on the Schuylkill River near Bartram's Garden

Features of Bartram's Garden

The Schuylkill River

One of the most notable features of Bartram's Garden is its stunning view of the Schuylkill River. The garden's location on the banks of the river – a section known as the Bartram’s Mile – provides visitors with the only recreational public access to the river and its surrounding wetlands. On Saturdays people visit the garden for its access to free boating along the Schuylkill River.

The Wetland Trail leads walkers, runners, and cyclists through a diverse natural habitat. Along which they can observe a variety of migratory birds, insects, small mammals such as the West Philadelphia groundhog, and other wildlife.

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A Inquisitive Groundhog Sneaks out of its Burrow in Bartram's Garden

Bartram’s House

Another impressive feature of Bartram's Garden is the historic Bartram House and several outbuildings. Built in 1728, this elegant brick house is a prime example of Georgian architecture and has been beautifully restored to its former colonial glory. It is possible to undertake a guided tour through the house, learning more about Bartram’s life as well as his work.

Plant Life in the Garden

Bartram’s Garden is home to three notable trees; the continent’s oldest Ginkgo Tree, the delicate Franklinia Tree, and the Yellowwood Tree. The Franklinia is among Bartram’s most famous discoveries, having saved it from extinction and naming it for his good friend, Benjamin Franklin. Any new Franklinia trees are derived from this original specimen.

Alongside these important residents the garden also features several themed gardens including the Flower Garden – bursting with fragrance – the Kitchen Garden, and the Medicinal Garden. Quality herbs, vegetables, and other produce is grown in the Kitchen Garden and sold locally. Meanwhile, every Spring plant sale occurs in the nursery.

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The Beautiful Ginkgo Tree

Future Plans for the Garden

Bartram's Garden has ambitious plans for the future, including the development of new gardens, trails, educational programs, and community engagement strategies.


The garden’s Board of Directors is determined that Bartram Garden remains a place of welcome, respite, and celebration. Where the natural world is accessible and inviting to everyone, without discrimination.


As of 2020 the garden’s mission is to create deep connections between people and nature. There are plans to use immersive, community driven experiences, to express the Bartram legacy, garden, and research elements. Maintaining the garden’s core qualities as a place of education and discovery.

Our Thoughts…

In conclusion, Bartram's Garden is a historic and beautiful destination. It can be considered the birthplace of American gardening and as such is a vital tool to understanding the long evolution of Botany. John Bartram and his family have been credited with identifying and introducing into cultivation more than 200 native plants in their time on this earth. And the Bartram Garden serves as a celebration and recognition of these efforts.

Whether you're taking a leisurely stroll through the garden or sitting on a bench admiring the view, the natural beauty of the area is sure to leave you feeling peaceful and refreshed. It’s a truly remarkable place and is a must-visit spot in Philadelphia!

If you're looking for other ways to immerse yourself in Philly culture, why not check out our secret escapes and lose yourself in an urban adventure?!

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Philadelphia, Waiting to be Explored

Bartram’s Garden Questions


What you need to know

Bartram’s Garden
5400 Lindbergh Blvd, Philadelphia, PA 19143
39.932716, -75.211761
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