A Stroll through Jenkins Arboretum & Gardens

I love Jenkins Arboretum and Gardens. It’s one of my absolute favorite gardens. If you know me, you know I say that a lot. But it’s always true – I sincerely love them all. 🥰🌿 I’ve visited Jenkins quite a few times this summer, usually on a lazy weekend or after a particularly hectic weekday when I need to unwind.

A woman walking downhill on a garden path towards a pond during sunset
Jenkins Arboretum, early September 2023

The great thing about Jenkins is that this garden is open later than most – until 8 pm in the summer months, and until 7 pm in September. Always check their website for their current opening hours because they close earlier in the late fall and winter months.

  • Jenkins Arboretum, Devon, Pennsylvania

Early August 2023

Jenkins opened to the public in 1976. The grounds of this garden were formerly the private properties of Elisabeth Phillippe Jenkins and her husband H. Lawrence Jenkins as well as the adjoining estate of a Mrs. Louisa P. Browning. Many of the gardens that I’ve written about were owned by prominent Philadelphia area families. But according to the Jenkins website, Elisabeth and Lawrence were neither wealthy nor socialites. They were two people who lived within their means on a wooded hillside, who loved nature, and wanted to preserve this legacy for future generations. Elisabeth passed away before her husband, and he donated their land “as a living memorial to his wife” (source).

Forest of trees with small violet and white flowersEarly August 2023

If you’ve never visited Jenkins before, drive carefully once you turn onto Berwyn Baptist Road, the street where the arboretum is located. The entrance is hidden and so, so easy to miss. When you pull into the parking lot, you’ll see the visitor’s center, the garden shop, and restrooms. Even though the visitor’s center generally closes around 4 pm, they usually leave maps outside that you can grab, and the restrooms remain open until the garden closes.

Early August 2023

It’s hard to believe, but this magical place is free. There is no entrance fee. I feel blessed to live in a place where this is the case, as I know this isn’t true in every part of the world, or even every part of the country. Jenkins is well known for its native flora, especially its azalea and rhododendron gardens which bloom in the spring. I visited this year in late summer, but here’s a photo I took in spring 2020 that shows what it looks like at that time of year.

Spring 2020 at Jenkins

This dreamy woodland is spans a very steep hill. There are small gardens at every level of the incline, and the hill descends towards a pond, which marks the edge of the arboretum. There are paved paths throughout and benches where you can take a moment and rest. If you have trouble with inclines, you may want to pace yourself at this garden. Wear sturdy shoes with good traction, don’t be afraid to take breaks to catch your breath, and consider bringing a walking stick.

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I think the wildlife at Jenkins is one of my favorite parts about this garden. There are bunnies, chipmunks, frogs, and even hummingbirds. A lot of these cuties like to hang out by the pond. They are not shy at all. I journaled one evening while bunnies chomped hungrily on grass merely feet away from me. I walked in the azalea garden another night, and a chipmunk happily skipped along the path just a stone’s throw away. Be cautious of the rocks by the pond, because I hear snakes like to hang out in that area. They must keep to themselves though because I haven’t seen one.

see the bunnies on instagram

The pond is a wonderful place to sit, read, journal, and think. In early August, the yellow American lotus flowers were in full bloom, floating in the pond. The sky was moody that day, and the grounds felt filled with secrets. I felt enchanted, like I had just walked into an impressionist painting.

Although I don’t have kids, I would consider this garden to be family friendly. There are fun interactive follies dotted throughout the grounds, like the oversized watering can below. There are lawn chairs for parents to sit while you let your kids explore to their little hearts’ content. Sometimes I’ve seen colored chalk on the walking path – I think there are youth programs during the summer.

Visiting Jenkins is nourishing to my spirit. I like coming throughout the different seasons – including the brutally cold winter months. One my favorite watercolors that I’ve painted was of Jenkins in the snow.

Jenkins Arboretum, 2020, Julicia James (sold)

I hope you will get a chance to visit this special place. If you do, please tell me all about it. I’d love to hear what you thought.

Golden Hour at Jenkins Arboretum, late August 2023

While I was at Jenkins in August, I caught a few quick clips of the grounds and the adorable bunnies. You can watch that reel here.

America’s Garden Capital

Jenkins is featured in the America’s Garden Capital (AGC) passport book. Here’s my passport stamp from 2019, but I have visited several times since then.

If you’d like to read about more gardens, check out my Botanical Garden Guide.

To read more about other gardens that I’ve visited in the local Pennsylvania/Delaware/New Jersey area, check out my Ultimate Guide to America’s Garden Capital.

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