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Susquehanna Life

10 Exceptional Gardens & Landscapes to Explore this Fall

Sep 01, 2016 06:25PM ● By Melanie Heisinger

Keithan's Garden

Before the leaves fall there’s still time to get out and see gorgeous garden color. Here are 10 places to start.

By Erica L. Shames

1.     Governor’s Mansion Gardens, Harrisburg

Governor's Mansion, Harrisburg. Courtesy of the office of Gov. Tom Wolf.

The gardens are the result of a campaign beginning with former First Lady Ginny Thornberg’s Committee for the Governor’s Gardens. Penn’s Woods educational garden features plants native to Pennsylvania; the Jane Shaffer Rose Garden, a colorful centerpiece to the landscape, features over 250 roses of 13 different cultivators; and the Susquehanna Garden, designed to provide privacy in the midst of public spaces, features a fountain and iron wall sculpture highlighting the Susquehanna River and its wildlife. 

More information: Residence.PA.Gov/The%20Gardens/Pages/


2.     Hershey Gardens, Hershey

Hershey Gardens Gazebo. Photo courtesy of Hershey Gardens.


This 23-acre botanical display features an award-winning rose garden, collections of conifers, hollies, rhododendrons and Japanese maples and several specimen trees. A new addition is the Milton and Catherine Hershey Conservatory. The 16,000-square-foot conservatory indoor tropical butterfly atrium—one of only 25 in the U.S.—features 600 colorful butterflies, including tropical species never before seen in central Pennsylvania.  More information:


3.     Historic Bartram’s Garden, Philadelphia

Bartram's Garden

The oldest living botanical garden in the US, and the home and garden of John Bartram, America’s first botanist and best-known plant collector. Bartram’s Garden is a 45-acre National Historic Landmark, operated by the John Bartram Assoc. in cooperation with Philadelphia Parks and Recreation. It is a destination and an outdoor classroom, living laboratory and membership organization for nearly 40,000 visitors each year. Photos by Pete Brown. 

More information:


4.     Louise Arnold Tanger Arboretum, Lancaster

Tanger Arboretum. Courtesy of Wikipedia.

Designed by Gustav Malmborg, of Manheim, PA, the arboretum beautifies the historical society grounds with 104 varieties of mature plants. Open to the public, it’s an inviting spot to spend time enjoying nature. 

More information:


5.     Penn State Horticultural Trial Garden, Manheim

Penn State Trial Garden

The trial gardens in Manheim are living laboratories and garden classrooms for horticulture, plant pathology and entomology. Commercial visitors use the gardens to develop plant lists, secure in the knowledge that varieties have been fully tested in this climate. Others use the trials for photography, relaxation, inspiration or selecting the best plants for their own gardens. 

More information:

6.     Pennsbury Manor, Morrisville

Pennsbury Manor's Marsh Mallow Plant.

The reconstructed home of William Penn along the Delaware River includes a kitchen garden of fruit, vegetables and herbs and walled formal gardens. The 43-acre green space focuses on heritage plants, including curiosities like the Marsh Mallow plant: The roots of this plant, when crushed up and beaten with sugar and egg whites, produces a gooey, white, mixture very similar to our modern marshmallows.  Pennsbury events, offered April through October, depict demonstrations by colonial craftspeople. 

More information:


7.     Reading Public Museum Arboretum, Reading

Reading Public Museum Arboretum

The arboretum offers 25 acres of grounds with hundreds of flowering trees, shrubs and sculptural gardens. An accredited station for the United States Bureau of Plant Industry, the park features 65 distinctive specimens, many from the original planting in the late 1920s. The Wyomissing Creek flows through the arboretum and park.  

More information:


8.     Rodale Institute Experimental Farm, Kutztown

Rodale Institute Landscape

The farm features 333 acres of organic research, education and outreach, centering on subjects as diverse as its water-purification eco-center and honeybee conservancy to ag-supported communities. Operations include compost, livestock, vegetables production, greenhouses, small grains, gardens and 1100 certified organic apple trees. Demonstration projects can be replicated on farms and in communities throughout the world, bringing Rodale one step closer to realizing its vision of an organic planet. 

More information:


9.     John J. Tyler Arboretum, Media

John J. Tyler Arboretum

Among the highlights of the 700-acre preserve is the Wister Horticulture Collections, honoring the first director of the arboretum, John C. Wister. He was a member of a prominent Philadelphia area family, which included the 18th century physician Caspar Wister, after whom the species Wisteria was named. Features include cherry, lilac, magnolia, rhododendron and crabapple collections, and the Pinetum and trail system. 

More information:


10.     Keithan’s Gardens, Sunbury

Keithan's Garden

In the 1920s, Sunbury resident Charles Keithan started a hobby garden that grew into part of the community landscape. Located on a 1.5-acre tract along Sunbury’s riverside, the park still contains some of the exotic trees that Keithan imported from around the world, as well as representative species of two of his favorite plants—azaleas and rhododendrons.  

More information: (570) 286-7820.

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