John Bartram purchased the 102-acre farm along the west bank of the lower Schuylkill River in 1728, and turned it into America’s first garden.
The Bartrams are credited with identifying and cultivating hundreds of native plants.
For more than 50 years, John and his son William devoted themselves to the collection and study of North American plants, traveling far and wide to collect trees, shrubs and herbaceous plants for their own garden, as well as for other collectors at home and abroad.
The Bartrams are credited with identifying and introducing into cultivation more than 200 native plants. In 1765, King George III appointed John Bartram the “King’s Botanist” for North America, a position he held until his death in 1777. They supplied plants and seeds to horticultural enthusiasts in England and Europe throughout the 18th Century, and Washington ordered some for Mount Vernon.
Bartram’s heirs issued the first catalog of American plants and developed one of the first commercial plant nurseries in America.
In 1850, industrialist Andrew Eastwick purchased the garden to protect it from encroaching industry. Today, Bartram’s Garden includes a playground, ball fields and picnic areas as well as a boat dock.
Events & More
Special public programs are held throughout the year, including the native plant sale during the first week of May and the holiday green sale and open house in December. Bartram’s Garden is also one of the hosts of the annual Philadelphia Honey Festival , which takes place every September.
Additionally, guests can volunteer at the Sankofa Community Farm, which produces more than 15,000 pounds of food annually.
Bartram’s Garden is home to the country’s oldest ginkgo tree and the delicate Franklinia alatamaha tree, two of the Bartrams’ most famous discoveries, which they saved from extinction and named for their friend, Ben. Also, the Bartram’s Mile segment of the Schuylkill River Trail allows walkers, runners and bikers to travel through Bartram’s Garden to the Grays Ferry Bridge.