by Betsy Natter
Montgomery County is in full bloom and summer is the perfect time to enjoy the gorgeous color and fragrances of the season at a public garden or arboretum. While the Greater Philadelphia area is well known for the magnificence of Longwood Gardens, there’s no need to take a long drive when several awe-inspiring options are available locally. Take a casual stroll through the grounds, let the kids romp amongst the trees, paint a landscape or take a class – it’s your choice at these featured sites.
786 Church Rd., Wayne, PA 19087
Chanticleer is a public garden offering 35 acres of gardens and over 5,000 plants. Known as the “pleasure garden” it is a place to stroll the grassy knolls and take in the many unique spots. Relax on one of the many hand-crafted benches or chairs and enjoy the artistry of unique gateways, lamps, and bridges that add interest to the natural beauty of the gardens. Classes in gardening, photography and various art forms are available from outside sources that utilize the gardens as their inspiration and backdrop. Information on these classes is available on the Chanticleer website.
Chanticleer is open Wednesday through Sunday from 10 am to 5 pm and until 8 pm on Fridays from May through Labor Day. Live painting is allowed Wednesday through Fridays during open hours. Artists should check the website for guidelines.
Jenkins Arboretum & Gardens
631 Berwyn Baptist Rd., Devon, PA 19333
This tiny gem located just southwest of King of Prussia is the former estate of Lawrence and Elisabeth Jenkins. The park exists to promote horticulture and education through its collection of native plants and rhododendrons. Visitors can stroll the 1.2 miles of paths winding through woodlands, past a bog garden and pond and back to the Education Center.
Kids will enjoy the gardens too, especially when they attend a Jenkins Explorers program on Sunday afternoons or Thursday mornings. Listen to a story, make a craft and then explore the grounds together. Pre-registration is required, but the events are free and run until mid-August.
The arboretum is open daily from 8 am to sunset and the Education Center is open daily from 9 am to 4 pm except on major holidays. Best of all – admission is free.
Morris Arboretum of the Univ. of Pennsylvania
100 E. Northwestern Ave., Philadelphia, PA 19118
There are plenty of activities for the whole family at the Morris Arboretum. Climb in the treetops of the Tree Adventure exhibit and get “Out on A Limb” on an elevated walkway 50 feet above the ground. Little ones will enjoy “Nature Play” held the first Saturday of the month. They can get down in the dirt, climb over logs and engage in free play activities set up by the staff. Download activity cards prior to your visit, available by clicking here, to engage in a variety of educational activities any day of the week.
Another favorite feature in the arboretum is the Garden Railway. The quarter-mile track is set in a miniature landscape made entirely of natural materials and running locomotives. A must see for train lovers. The arboretum is open weekdays from 10 am to 4 pm and 8 am to 5 pm on weekends.
The Barnes Arboretum
300 N. Latch’s Lane. Merion, PA 19066
Located in southern Montgomery County, the Barnes Arboretum is host to the Barnes Foundation’s collection of living “art” and its horticulture school. The 12-acre site has a diverse collection of species, many of which are rare or dating back to the early 1900s. Enjoy the medicinal plant garden, several rare specimens of trees from Asia and the largest collection of Hostas in the region.
The Barnes Arboretum is only open on the weekends from 11 am to 4 pm between May and September. The grounds operate on a pay as you go basis – no tickets necessary. Guided tours are available for $10 between 1 and 2 pm but reservations should be made in advance.
Temple University Ambler Campus
580 Meetinghouse Rd., Ambler, PA 19002
The Ambler Arboretum spreads its way across the 187 acres that is Temple University’s Ambler Campus. The grounds are home to the School of Horticulture but are open to the public free of charge. Several types of gardens can be seen on the self-guided tour. Among them are wetland, conifer, native plant, woodland, herb and formal perennial displays.
The arboretum also offers classes for the community, guided tours by appointment, regular public events and lectures, and a summer garden party. Visitors may stroll the grounds any day of the year from dawn to dusk. Visit the website prior to your visit to download a map.
Hatfield Township Arboretum
830 Princeton Place, Hatfield, PA 19440
This park-like setting consists of 5 acres dedicated largely to the display of over 200 trees. The trees were planted due to a large grant from the county back in 1999. The trees now show the shapes and distinctive features of their species, giving inspiration to local homeowners for their own properties. Included are a variety of shade, flowering, deciduous and conifers as well as a large bed of unusual ornamentals. The park also features a variety of native plant species, all labeled for reference, a walking path, and resting benches. The park is open to the public from dawn to dusk.