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History of Early American Landscape Design

Bartram Botanic Garden and Nursery

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Overview

Alternate Names: Bartram's Garden, Bartram House and Garden

Site Dates:

Site Owner(s):

Site Designer(s):

Location: Philadelphia, PA
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Related Sites:

Related Terms: Arbor, Border, Botanic Garden, Bower, Canal, Fence, Greenhouse, Grotto, Hermitage, Hothouse, Lake/Pond, Meadow, Nursery, Orangery, Orchard, Parterre, Shrubbery, Walk, Wall, Yard

Images

Texts

  • Kalm, Pehr, September 19, 1748, describing Bartram Botanic Garden and Nursery (1937: 1:41) [1]
“Mulberry trees are planted on some hillocks near the house and sometimes even in the courtyards of the house.”


“he disdains to have a garden less than Pensylvania & Every den is an Arbour, Every run of water, a Canal, & every small level Spot a Parterre.”


  • Bartram, John, June 24, 1760, in a letter to Peter Collinson, describing his plans for the Bartram Botanic Garden and Nursery (quoted in Darlington 1849: 224) [3]
“Dear friend, I am going to build a greenhouse. Stone is got; and hope as soon as harvest is over to begin to build it, to put some pretty flowering winter shrubs, and plants for winter’s diversion; not to be crowded with orange trees, or those natural to the Torrid Zone, but such as will do, being protected from frost.”


  • Alexiowitz, Iwan, 1769, describing Bartram Botanic Garden and Nursery (quoted in Darlington 1849: 50) [3]
“The whole store of nature’s kind luxuriance seemed to have been exhausted on these beautiful meadows; he made me count the amazing number of cattle and horses now feeding on solid bottoms, which but a few years before had been covered with water. Thence we rambled through his fields, where the rightangular fences, the heaps of pitched stones, the flourishing clover, announced the best husbandry, as well as the most assiduous attention....He next showed me his orchard, formerly planted on a barren, sandy soil, but long since converted into one of the richest spots in that vicinage.”


“It [the garden] is finely situated, as it partakes of every kind of soil, has a fine stream of water, and an artificial pond, where he has a good collection of aquatic plants.”


“There were several other hermitages, constructed in different forms; but the Grottoes and Hermitages were not yet completed, and some space of time will be necessary to give them that highly romantic air which they are capable of attaining.”


“The Summer sun was riding high,
“The wood in deepest verdure drest;
“From care and clouds of dust to fly,
“Across yon bubbling brook I past;

“And up the hill, with cedars spread,
“Where vines through spice-wood thickets roam;
“I took the woodland path, that led
“To Bartram’s hospitable dome….

“The squirrel chipp’d, the tree-frog whirr’d,
“The dove bemoan’d in shadiest bow’r….

“A wide extended waste of wood,
“Beyond in distant prospect lay;
“Where Delaware’s majestic flood
“Shone like the radiant orb of day….

“There market-maids, in lovely rows,
“With wallets white, were riding home;
“And thund’ring gigs, with powder’d beauxs [‘’sic’’],
“Through Gray’s green festive shade to roam.

“There Bacchus fills his flowing cup,
“There Venus’ lovely train are seen;
“There lovers sigh, and gluttons sup,
“By shrubb’ry walks, in arbours green.

“But dearer pleasures warm my heart,
“And fairer scenes salute my eye;
“As thro’ these cherry-rows I dart
“Where Bartram’s fairy landscapes lie.

“Sweet flows the Schuylkill’s winding tide,
“By Bartram’s emblossomed bow’rs;
“Where nature sports, in all her pride
“Of choicest plants, and fruits, and flow’rs.


  • Committee of the Pennsylvania Horticultural Society, 1830, describing Bartram Botanic Garden and Nursery (quoted in Boyd 1929: 428) [6]
“Mr. Carr’s fruit nursery has been greatly improved, and will be enlarged next spring to twelve acres—its present size is eight. The trees are arranged in systematical order, and the walks well gravelled. The whole is abundantly stocked, from the seed bed to the tree. Here are to be found 113 varieties of apples, 72 of pears, 22 of cherries, 17 of apricots, 45 of plums, 39 of peaches, 5 of nectarines, 3 of almonds, 6 of quinces, 5 of mulberries, 6 of raspberries, 6 of currants, 5 of filberts, 8 of walnuts, 6 of strawberries, and 2 of medlars. The stock, considered according to its growth, has in the first class of ornamental trees, esteemed for their foliage, flowers, or fruit, 76 sorts; of the second class 56 sorts; of the third class 120 sorts; of ornamental evergreens 52 sorts; of vines and creepers, for covering walls and arbours, 35 sorts; of honey suckle 30 sorts, and of roses 80 varieties.”


  • Wynne, William, 1832, “Some Account of the Nursery Gardens and the State of Horticulture in the Neighbourhood of Philadelphia,” describing the Bartram Botanic Garden and Nursery (Gardener’s Magazine 8: 272–73)
“I shall begin with Bartram’s Botanic Garden; the precedence being due to it, both for antiquity (it having been established 100 years), and from its containing the best collection of American plants in the United States. There are above 2000 species (natives) contained in a space of six acres, not including the fruit nursery and vineyard, which comprise eight acres. . . . Indeed, the most remarkable feature in this nursery, and that which renders it superior to most of its class, is the advantage of possessing large specimens of all the rare American trees and shrubs; which are not only highly ornamental, but likewise very valuable, from the great quantities of seed they afford for exportation to London, Paris, Petersburgh, Calcutta, and several other parts of Europe, Asia, and Africa. This garden is the regular resort of the learned and scientific gentlemen of Philadelphia.”


  • Hovey, C. M., June 1837, describing Bartram Botanic Garden and Nursery (Magazine of Horticulture 3: 210)
“In the orangery attached to the large greenhouse are a great number of very old orange and lemon trees.”


“He [John Bartram] was, perhaps, the first Anglo-American who conceived the idea of establishing a BOTANIC GARDEN for the reception and cultivation of the various vegetables, natives of the country, as well as exotics, and of travelling for the discovery and acquisition of them.*
“* The BARTRAM BOTANIC GARDEN, (established in or about the year 1730,) is most eligibly and beautifully situated, on the right bank of the river Schuylkill, a short distance below the city of Philadelphia. Being the oldest establishment of the kind in this western world, and exceedingly interesting, from its history and associations,—one might almost hope, even in this utilitarian age, that, if no motive more commendable could avail, a feeling of state or city pride, would be sufficient to ensure its preservation, in its original character, and for the sake of its original objects. But, alas! there seems to be too much reason to apprehend that it will scarcely survive the immediate family of its noble-hearted founder,—and that even the present generation may live to see the accumulated treasures of a century laid waste—with all the once gay parterres and lovely borders converted into lumberyards and coal-landings.”


“884. At and near Philadelphia are Bartram’s botanic garden, now the nursery of Colonel Carr, and accurately described by his foreman, Mr. Wynne (Gard. Mag., vol. viii. p. 272.); Messrs. Landreth and Co.’s nursery; and that of Messrs. Hibbert and Buist; besides some commercial gardens in which, to a small nursery with green and hot-houses, are added the appendages of a tavern. These tavern gardens, Mr. Wynne informs us, are the resort of many of the citizens of Philadelphia, more especially the gardens of M. Arran, and M. d’Arras; the first having a very good museum, and the latter a beautiful collection of large orange and lemon trees."

References

Notes

  1. Pehr Kalm, The America of 1750: Peter Kalm’s Travels in North America. The English Version of 1770, 2 vols. (New York: Wilson-Erickson, 1937), view on Zotero.
  2. C. Colden, The Letters and Papers of Cadwallader Colden, 9 vols. (New York: New-York Historical Society, c. 1918-37), view on Zotero.
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 William Darlington, Memorials of John Bartram and Humphry Marshall: With Notices of Their Botanical Contemporaries (Philadelphia: Lindsay & Blakiston, 1849), view on Zotero.
  4. 4.0 4.1 Manasseh Cutler, Life, Journals and Correspondence of Rev. Manasseh Cutler, L.L.D., ed. by William Parker Cutler and Julia Perkin Cutler, vol. 1 (Cincinnati: Robert Clarke & Co., 1888), view on Zotero.
  5. Alexander Wilson, The Poems and Literary Prose of Alexander Wilson, the American Ornithologist, ed. Alexander B. Grosart, 2 vols. (Paisley: Alex. Gardner, 1876), 359, 361-62, view on Zotero.
  6. James Boyd, A History of the Pennsylvania Horticultural Society, 1827-1927 (Philadelphia: Pennsylvania Horticultural Society, 1929), view on Zotero.
  7. J. C. (John Claudius) Loudon, An Encyclopaedia of Gardening; Comprising the Theory and Practice of Horticulture, Floriculture, Arboriculture, and Landscape-Gardening, new ed., corr. and improved (London: Longman et al., 1850), view on Zotero.

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History of Early American Landscape Design contributors, "Bartram Botanic Garden and Nursery," History of Early American Landscape Design, , https://heald.nga.gov/mediawiki/index.php?title=Bartram_Botanic_Garden_and_Nursery&oldid=8077 (accessed September 27, 2022).

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