Bartram's Garden is a historic garden and arboretum on the west bank of the Schuylkill River. Founded in 1728 by botanist John Bartram, it is the oldest surviving botanical garden in North America. The garden is located near the intersection of 54th Street and Lindbergh Boulevard.
The garden includes the Bartram Special Collections Library, a vast collection of documents and materials related to the history of the Garden, the history of Philadelphia, and the development of the field of botany. It was designated a National Historic Landmark in 1960.
American botanist, John Bartram, founded the garden on his farm, miles outside of the then-borders of Philadelphia. He built the stone house, which is still standing, between 1728 and 1731 and added a kitchen around 1740. The Palladian-inspired, carved facade was finished in 1770. The original garden, completed in 1728, and greenhouse, in 1760, are still remaining!
The current collection contains a wide variety of native and exotic species. The garden also contains three notable trees (listed below): * Franklinia alatamaha: John and William Bartram discovered a small grove of this tree in October 1765 while camping by Georgia's Altamaha River. William eventually brought seeds to the garden, where they were planted in 1777. The species, named in honor of John Bartram's friend, Benjamin Franklin, was last seen in the wild in 1803. All Franklinia growing today are descended from the work of the Bartrams who saved this species from extinction. * Cladrastis kentukea: A notably old tree, possibly collected by French plant explorer André Michaux in Tennessee and sent to William Bartram in 1796. * Ginkgo biloba: This ginkgo is believed to be the last of three original ginkgoes introduced to the United States from China, via London, in 1785.
John Bartram's garden began as a personal landscape. With his lifelong devotion to plants, his collection grew over time, as he discovered different examples of new North American species. His collection became the most diverse of North American plants in the world.
Following the American Revolution, Bartram's sons, John Bartram, Jr. and William Bartram, expanded the family's botanic garden and nursery business. William became an important naturalist just like his father. Under his influence, the garden became an educational center that aided in training a new generation of natural scientists and explorers.
In 1891, control of the site was turned over to the City of Philadelphia and it remains protected as a city park.
The garden's plant collection does not include many plants from the time of the Bartram family, but the plants during that time are well documented.
Information sourced from Wikipedia. Cover Image by Jtfry and sourced from Wikipedia (CC BY 3.0 license).