Bartram's Garden, Philadelphia, PA USA
On the banks of the Schuylkill River tucked away in the Eastwick section of Philadelphia of Philadelphia, PA amidst oil refineries and industrial sprawl, is a tiny gem called Bartram's Garden. This National Historic Landmark is just minutes from center city Philadelphia, and is America's oldest botanic garden.
Bartram's Garden was the home of John Bartram, a Quaker farmer turned botanist and plant explorer. A contemporary and friend of Benjamin Franklin, Bartram and his son William were plant hunters or explorers, traveling up and down the east coast of the United States and as far west as the Ohio River to collect seeds and plants from the wild to cultivate in their garden in Philadelphia. Although it seems strange to us, plant hunting and botanical excursions were popular hobbies for gentlemen in the 18th century.
The house is a fine example of an early 18th century home, but it is the informal botanical gardens surrounding the house that make Bartram's Garden a special place. Wandering through the garden, visitors will find many familiar plants that date back to the time the original plants that were collected by Bartram and his son, who carried on the tradition after Bartram's death.
One of the most fascinating artifacts on the 45-acre property is the foundation of a cider press carved into the bedrock on the riverbank. The cider press is a point of interest on the river trail where visitors can meander along the river through meadow and wetland habitats, as well as archaeological sites.
I love these kinds of places. Remnants of life the way it was in days gone by. These little gems are often found in areas you'd least expect--off the beaten path. Many eco-travelers like myself prefer visiting places where no other tourist goes. All-inclusive resorts? Forget about it! Bungalows with open-air louvers and sharing space with lizards scurrying across the floor and tree frogs croaking in the night is more like it--as long as there's a toilet and shower of course!
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