Appleford Estate, Lovely in Rain or Shine

I visited Appleford Estate, based in Villanova, PA, twice over the course of this spring – first in March, and again in June.

It was a rainy day when I visited Appleford Estate in March. This 24-acre beauty was a part of a land grant from William Penn. Penn is credited with founding the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania over 300 years ago, on grounds that originally belonged to the Lenni-Lenape people. There is a historic fieldstone home on the estate which reflects early Pennsylvania farmhouse architecture.

When I need solitude, I love to walk the grounds of a garden when it’s overcast. Everything is so moody – the sky is gray, and everything is quiet, dark, shadowy, broody.

Appleford was absolutely empty on that day in March, and I felt blessed to have the estate all to myself. I could explore, linger, and stare at beautiful trees and the new spring growth for as long as I wanted without feeling self-conscious.

Have you ever wanted to stop and just take a moment to gaze at a majestic tree or a teensy flower? The stem, the roots, the leaves, the buds? If not, just know that I am that girl. I usually have to restrain myself when other people are around, so they don’t think I’m weird. The “normal” thing to do is to see a tree, register that it exists, and keep it moving.

Most people prefer to visit a garden on a sunny day when the weather is cooperative. I absolutely delight in a warm, sun-soaked day just as much as anyone else, but there is something electric about walking around in the rain. It’s like the air is full of secrets. Plants communicate to each other through their roots, airborne chemicals, and ultrasonic clicking noises. They’re apparently especially chatty when it rains. I can’t describe it, but it’s like I can feel the tension in the air and the fragrances of the flora are magnified. If you’ve never visited a garden in the rain, I challenge you to do so just once.

When I visited several weeks later in June, it was amazing to see the contrast from late spring to the beginning of the season. The sun was shining; teeny buds had blossomed into lovely maturity; and roses danced in the courtyard, which once was bare.

I marveled at how alive, how different it felt to be in that moment. After the dreary winter months of December, January, and February, seeing the first sprigs of green in March feels so exciting – like the earth is finally awaking from her slumber. Yet, on that day in June, it felt like the earth had not only woken up – but she had also gotten out of bed and gotten dressed. Everything was alive and dancing to the same song.

Appleford has generous hours of operation and is open from dawn until dusk. Just know that this is a popular spot for hosting weddings and events from April through November. If you plan to visit during this timeframe, I highly recommend contacting them via email or phone a couple days ahead to verify that they’re open.

This is a garden that does not have trash bins, so you’ll have to take any waste home with you. There also are no public restrooms on the grounds.

All photos taken June 2023

I had a reflective, peaceful time walking the Appleford grounds, both in March and June. I highly recommend it as a place to go for a quick, contemplative walk. Appleford is also a great spot to take professional family or graduation photos (you’ll need to email them and ask permission though).

During my March visit, I spotted a beautiful blue-grey heron. I caught a quick clip of her.

If you’re like me and collecting stamps for your America’s Garden Capital passport, you’ll want to know that Appleford doesn’t have a stamp (yet). I rang the doorbell of the fieldstone home, and the professional in the residence at the time gave me the Appleford business card. I cut out the logo and pasted it into my passport.

Tell me all about what you think about Appleford if you visit – and post a comment below this blog! Let me know if you like garden visits in the rain, too.

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. I add new gardens to that list every month.


  1. Sounds like a delight whatever the weather. Romantic, introspective souls have plenty to be nourished by, as well as those of us that only come out when the summer sun does. I want to go!

  2. I loved this blog so much and how you described wanting to take your time gazing at a majestic tree or a flower because I am that girl, too !!! Your description of the garden in the gloomy , rainy weather, as well as the sunny weather was beautiful, also ! You definitely are my kindred spirit !!!

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