Saturday, September 18, 2010

Bartram's Gardens

Bartram House
Today mom, dad and myself headed into West Philadelphia to check out the birthplace of American horticulture, Bartram's Gardens. While we had a slightly difficult time finding the gardens, our search was worth the effort. In case you aren't familiar with the Bartrams, John is considered the father of American horticulture as he traveled throughout the United States to find undocumented specimens of plants and record them for science. He was also in the plant trading business and so he would collect specimens and seeds for trade in Europe and around the world.

Among the species that were discovered by John Bartram is the Franklinia, a leafy shrub in the tea family that was discovered growing near the Altamaha River in Georgia in 1765. It is named in honor of Benjamin Franklin. Bartram collected some seeds upon discovery and shipped them to Philadelphia. Today there are no known Franklinias growing in the wild. The last record of a wild Franklinia was in the 1830s. Therefore all known Franklinas growing today are descendants of the plants that were grown at Bartram's Gardens. It was a thrill to see the Franklinias growing there, though I was a bit disappointed that they were not in bloom.
Eric and Franklinia

John's son William is also well known as one of America's first naturalists. The house that John built beginning in 1728 is a highlight of the site. It's architecture is impressive and we were able to see the inside on a guided tour. its great to see it so well preserved. Its preservation is in a great respect due to the efforts of Andrew M. Eastwick who purchased the site in the 1850s.  

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