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The Flower Show

8 Must-See Public Gardens to Visit in Philadelphia

April 14, 2022

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By Melissa O'Brien

Spring has sprung and eight spectacular gardens managed by PHS's Public Gardens and Landscapes are blooming across Philadelphia – including 70,000 rainbow-colored bulbs in Philadelphia’s Logan Square alone!  

“PHS maintains a wide range of public gardens and landscapes that contribute to the rich cultural fabric of the City of Philadelphia. They serve to not only beautify, but also educate and inspire visitors through discovering first-hand the positive impact that urban public greenspaces have on a community,” says PHS Director of Public Gardens and Landscapes, Tom Morris. 

Visit these eight must-see public gardens and landscapes in Philadelphia for an exciting and inspiring respite from winter with multi-colored plantings and new designs and renovations. 

1. Logan Square - Benjamin Franklin Parkway

Experience a rainbow-colored assortment of 70,000 bulbs at Logan Square this spring! In partnership with Jack de Vrooman, a famed flower bulb and perennial plant expert from the Netherlands, PHS installed elaborately designed mixes of bulbs throughout the Logan Square garden spaces to showcase flowers reminiscent of those found in the celebrated Keukenhof Garden in Lisse, Netherlands. This garden, famous for its vast expanse of vibrantly colored tulips, will be brought to life here in Philadelphia. A picturesque spot to celebrate the arrival of Spring, you do not want to miss this breathtaking garden! 

Drexel Gateway Garden

2. The Gateway Garden at Drexel – University City

Now entering its second year, the Gateway Garden at Drexel will be adding 1,000 square feet of space to offer guests more seating and lounge options. Open to everyone including the Drexel University community, garden guests can also anticipate the addition of several new planters, and a vibrant new palette of spring plantings to refresh and inspire visitors to celebrate the outdoors. 

The Gateway Garden’s weekly “Meet the Brewers” beer garden events will be expanding this season due to popular demand. Running on Wednesdays from April - August, the roster of brewers and cider makers that plan to visit include Triple Bottom Brewing, Urban Village Brewing, Dressler Estate, Hale and True Cideries, and many more. On Thursdays, guests can enjoy outdoor vendor markets featuring local artists and producers. You won’t want to miss this buzzing hotspot! 

PUG Manayunk

3. PHS Pop Up Gardens – South Street and Manayunk

Whether you’re seeking a relaxing midday escape somewhere green, a hot spot for urban nightlife and delicious botanical cocktails, or a place to enjoy the best of Philly foodie culture, either the PHS South Street and Manayunk Pop Up Gardens will be a great choice to ring in springtime! 

The Pop Up Garden in Manayunk features an array of cool season annuals and bulbs, as well as North American native plants and flowers which will mimic the feel of an urban forest. Additionally, Manayunk will plant several new street trees this year, as well as incorporate 2022 PHS Gold Medal Plant winner, Acer freemanii, ‘Autumn Blaze’ to the garden’s plant and floral design palette. 

At the South Street Pop Up Garden, guests will be greeted with a mix of annuals and bulbs, layered with existing selections of diverse perennials and herbs. Come the summer months, dramatic, large-scale tropicals with long-lasting colorful annuals will be rotated into the garden space, delivering beauty and vibrancy well into the Fall. 

In addition, Manayunk and South Street Pop Up Gardens also have a full roster of events and programming beginning in April – including plant swaps, giveaways, and hands-on crafting events -- most free, and always fun! 

Delaware River Waterfront

4. Delaware River Waterfront – Old City

This spring, the Delaware River Waterfront and its medians will feature stunning plants that offer unique spring interest, such as blooming cherry trees, early Spring perennials such as Hellebore, Euphorbia, Salvia, Nassella, and many others to excite and inspire visitors. 

Come Summer, these gardens will be refreshed with ornate installations to prepare for the Summerfest Openings, including large annual and tropical container plantings at Spruce Street Harbor Park, Summerfest, and Cherry Street Pier. Pay a visit to this gorgeous waterfront and experience a refreshing getaway with all its floral delights! 

5. Love Park Garden – Center City

New this year, PHS will partner with Philadelphia Parks and Recreation to maintain the garden spaces and displays in Love Park! New plantings will adorn the park this year with a mix of color as well as bold plantings, including large tropical foliage, bright magenta annuals, and urban tolerant perennials that will span four large beds, approximately 6,500 square feet.  

This unique garden space will also include numerous shrubs as a backdrop for copper and burgundy-toned foliage, and colorful bulbs will fill large swaths of the garden emerging as the temperatures rise, welcoming in the season. Stop by, take a photo with the iconic LOVE statue, and soak in the beauty of vibrant flowers and greenery to brighten up your day. 

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6. Eastern State Penitentiary Gardens – Fairmount Area 

Last Fall, many of the original plantings (Viburnum trilobum, Viburnum prunifolium, and Viburnum dentatum) onsite at the Eastern State Penitentiary gardens were cut back to ground level to rejuvenate and prune them for fresh and vigorous growth this season. This spring, the Eastern State Penitentiary gardens will continue renovations while visitors can experience a sequence of new bulbs, including daffodils and various species of eye-catching tulips. On the southern façade, 300 containers of warm season grasses will thrive in the full sun coverage and offer guests a beautiful splash of green at this historic city landmark. 

Navy Yard

7. Philadelphia Navy Yard Gardens – South Philadelphia 

This upcoming season, visitors to the Philadelphia Navy Yard will be greeted with a wonderful display of Spring bulbs, including a variety of tulips, Camassia, and Alliums, as well as several new trees in the Navy Yard Arboretum. Along the waterfront, visitors will find beautiful perennial gardens, offering a picturesque vantage point to see passing ships and planes overhead, while soaking in the Springtime beauty of the gardens. For those looking to foster their green thumb, or anyone looking to expand their horticultural expertise, seasonal gardeners will be available across the 1,200-acre campus to give further insight and detail about the varied horticultural displays. Pay a visit to this South Philadelphia landmark and experience all the gorgeous views and lush garden spaces in store this season! 

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8. Geary Park – South Philadelphia 

In collaboration with the Sports Complex Special Services District, PHS has completely renovated Geary Park in South Philadelphia, providing a brand-new space for the community based on feedback calling for more lighting, open space, and beautiful gardens for visitors to enjoy. 

The park now features an extensive lighting plan which will be programmable with colors for holidays and Philly sports gamedays! Geary Park’s garden renovations will be reminiscent of strolling gardens, with various brick walking paths, new site furnishings, a nature grove, and various colorful flowering plants and trees, creating a serene and relaxing experience for visitors. Pay a visit to Geary Park following its May 24th ribbon-cutting ceremony and experience everything this exciting, full renovation has in store! 

Promoting Health and Well-Being

PHS public gardens and landscapes are an integral part of the PHS mission of promoting health and well-being through horticulture. These areas create vital greenspace throughout the Philadelphia region, contribute to a much-needed tree canopy, and attract vital pollinators, all while benefiting both physical and mental health. Free to access for all, these spaces offer neighbors, suburbanites, and out-of-town visitors the opportunity to connect with the natural world, be inspired by plants and gardening, and foster social connections. 

Sign up for updates on PHS public gardens and local landscapes, including the Pop Up Gardens and Meadowbrook Farm.