Visit Bartram’s, America’s oldest surviving botanic garden

Bartram’s Garden is unique in so many ways. It’s a public park in the city spanning 50 acres. This Garden is free and open to visitors every day, and there are so many activities available to you: from kayaking to fishing, bike-riding to volunteer opportunities at the Sankofa Community Farm. It’s a great spot for dates, walks with a friend, or even a solo day trip.

I visited a couple weeks ago in early May with a friend, and we started our walk at the Welcome Center. There were plants for sale in the small courtyard, and we chatted while looking at all the beautiful potted herbs and blooms. Next, we walked along the pathway reading the signs at each tree, bush, and flower. This majestic yellowwood tree was planted in 1805.

One of the things I love about being at a botanical garden is that everything is a sensory experience – even walking. Hearing the satisfying “crunch” of tiny pebbles underfoot as we walked along the pathway was just so satisfying to me. I know I can’t be the only one who loves that little crunch-crunch sound and the gentle massage of smooth stones through your sandals.

Bartram’s had a display of the most beautiful lavender-colored Japanese irises. Seeing these unusual flowers was like inhaling a breath of fresh air. So refreshing!

I also loved this fence with unique, trumpet-like orange and yellow flowers. I looked up the image in iNaturalist, and apparently they’re called cross vines.

There was a grassy field bursting with happy, yellow flowers. It looked like something right out of a movie. They were so tiny and cheerful.

Near the house, a few peonies had popped their bright magenta heads up to say hello.

Bartram’s House, which sits at the front of the garden, was built in 1728 by John Bartram, an explorer, botanist, and horticulturist. Bartram’s is the is the oldest surviving botanic garden in the United States, and it sits on prehistoric grounds and an ancient riverfront. According to the National Park Service, “Artifacts recovered during archaeological excavation at the site indicate a prehistoric occupation by Native Americans from the Archaic to the Late Woodland Periods, ca. 3000 BCE–1550 CE” (source).

There are little nooks everywhere. From the grassy wildflower field of buttercups to the hideaway with a coy pond.  There’s an African Diaspora community garden in the back where I volunteered through the Junior League last year, and a riverfront with kayaking and free fishing. There’s SO much to explore and do at Bartram’s! Have you ever pulled up in front of a house that looked small from the outside, but when you went inside it was way bigger than it seemed? Bartram’s is kind of like that.

Writing about Bartram’s feels like coming back to my roots, even if this sounds a little silly. I’ve visited this garden so many times – both with loved ones and by myself. It’s also the first place where I met someone who recognized me as the girl who enthusiastically (perhaps even obsessively lol) posts on Instagram all the time about her garden adventures. Shout out to Tahnisha – @nanashooks on Instagram! Back in 2019, Tahnisha introduced me to her coworker Aseel, a Visitor Experience Specialist at Bartram’s, who then connected me with some folks at America’s Garden Capital. They loved my Instagram and asked me to be a plantfluencer (botanical garden influencer), and the rest is history.

I painted Bartram’s around Christmastime a few years ago and shared some of that process during my sketchbook series on Instagram. You can check that reel out here.

Bartram’s is featured in the America’s Garden Capital passport book. Here’s my passport stamp from 2019, but I have visited many, many times since then.

I look forward to bringing you with me to the next garden! My email subscribers hear all about my garden adventures first. It normally takes me a bit of time to get the blog posts out. If you don’t like to wait, become an insider and sign up to my mailing list.


  1. Lovely blog post Julicia, the photos are so carefully and beautifully taken bringing the experience to life!

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