Fresh growth

A sample of what's sprouting for spring and summer at area gardens and arboretums.

Whimsical bench crafted by Doug Croft and Doug Randolph of Chanticleer will be featured in a show at Wayne Art Center starting Sunday

Curious about what some of the public gardens and arboretums in the Philadelphia region are planning for 2012?

Here's a preview:

Awbury Arboretum in Germantown has a new community apiary - three hives outside and a demonstration hive inside the Francis Cope House. A 10-session beekeeping course is under way and a 4-H beekeeping club is planned, as are honey sales.

Beekeeper Anaiis Salles suggested the apiary because "Awbury has underutilized green space, plenty of room for hives, it's easy to get to, and has a really nontoxic environment. It's never been sprayed."

And with so many urban farms in Northwest Philadelphia, including one run by Weavers Way Co-op at Awbury, "this will be a good neighborhood for bees," says Salles, executive director of Green Sanctuary Earth Institute of Pennsylvania, who also runs a community-supported agriculture network.

Awbury Arboretum, 1 Awbury Rd., 215-849-285, Open.

Bartram's Garden in Southwest Philadelphia is looking to shift from "a 'show and tell' site to a place where people can get their hands dirty," says Stephanie Phillips, assistant director.

In 2011, a 11/2-acre organic farm replaced unused tennis courts and a baseball field at the southern end of the property. Plans call for the farm's acreage to double.

Meanwhile, 10 community garden plots will be planted this spring, and while those are spoken for, 14 more will be added eventually.

Bartram's has 37 new fruit trees, including apple, pawpaw, almond, Northern pecan, cherry, persimmon, fig, peach, plum, apricot, and pear. No fruit is expected for three to five years, and there are no picnic tables yet, but visitors are invited to bring lunch and a blanket.

Bartram's also is channeling its namesake, the influential 18th-century botanist John, with a new plant nursery. Nothing huge, maybe just two or three hoop houses to start, but it will be the first nursery here since the 1850s.

The focus will be native plants, Bartram discoveries, such as pawpaw, summersweet, and foamflower, and possibly plants that the garden's Kingsessing neighbors might like to grow.

Adds Phillips: "What if every visitor to Bartram's Garden went home with a plant?"

Bartram's Garden, 54th St. & Lindbergh Blvd., 215-729-5281, Open.

Chanticleer, the "pleasure garden" in Wayne, approaches spring with the new Bell's Woodland, a three-acre garden featuring ferns, sedges, azaleas, trilliums, and other natives, including a spectacular cinnamon clethra. The woodland also has hollowed-out log planters and a bridge sculpted to look like a fallen beech tree.

Eight years in the making, the new garden replaces what R. William Thomas, Chanticleer's executive director, describes as "a very damaged woodland" filled with invasive weeds.

And for those who've long admired Chanticleer's whimsical garden art, Wayne Art Center will exhibit handcrafted furniture and other objects by its talented gardeners this Sunday through March 10.

Chanticleer, 786 Church Rd., Wayne, 610-687-4163, Opens March 31.

Wayne Art Center, 413 Maplewood Ave., 610-688-3553,


Longwood Gardens hopes to "inspire visitors in a new way - at night," says director Paul B. Redman of a gardenwide installation by British lighting designer Bruce Munro that will run from June 9 through Sept. 1. The show, called "Light!", will highlight night photography, plants that bloom after dark, and other features, such as a "Forest of Light," 20,000 illuminated stems mimicking blooming flowers.

Longwood Gardens, 1001 Longwood Rd., Kennett Square, 610-388-1000, Open.

Morris Arboretum in Chestnut Hill has new plantings to enhance the restored Orange Balustrade, one of the garden's oldest features. And this year's Garden Railway theme is "Storytime Rail." From May 25 through Sept. 3, the quarter-mile track will feature characters such as the Little Mermaid, the Three Little Pigs, Sleeping Beauty, and Red Riding Hood. It all ties into a summer reading program for kids.

Also, artists are being invited to reinterpret the century-old Adirondack chair. About 50 of the reimagined works will be on display throughout the garden and at Woodmere Art Museum next door from May 31 through Sept. 3.

Morris Arboretum, 100 E. Northwestern Ave., 215-247-5777, Open.

Woodmere Art Museum, 9201 Germantown Ave, 215-247-0476,


Scott Arboretum at Swarthmore College has an interesting art installation - an earthen wall made of local clay. "It's kind of this amorphous mud structure with a slate roof. It's neat," says curator Andrew Bunting, and it's meant to be ephemeral, or temporary, lasting about two years.

Also this spring, Scott will be planting 500 hellebores along Magill Walk, the latest piece of a decadelong project to transform the walkway leading to Parrish Hall, the college's main building.

Scott Arboretum at Swarthmore College, 500 College Ave., 610-328–8025, Open.

Tyler Arboretum in Media has new paved (but permeable) paths in the Wister Rhododendron Garden, which has been diversified with kalmias, hardy camellias, ground covers, and shade trees. The result, according to Betsey Ney, public programs director, is "an easily walkable space that's not just lots and lots of rhododendrons" - although there are 1,429 of those.

Tyler also is sponsoring an art exhibit called "Sit a Spell: Seats That Tell a Tale," in which artists will fashion imaginative chairs, rockers, benches, and gliders to be displayed in the gardens from May 26 to Oct. 28.

Tyler Arboretum, 515 Painter Rd., Media, 610-566-9134, Open.

Winterthur, near Wilmington, has converted an original estate greenhouse into the $1 million, 3,000-square-foot Brown Horticulture Learning Center, adding classroom and meeting space. And 150 new azaleas, propagated from originals planted by "Mr. du Pont" himself - Henry Francis, that is - have been added to the Azalea Woods and Oak Hill.

Winterthur, 5105 Kennett Pike (Route 52) 302.888.4600, Opens March 1.

Wyck, the historic house in Germantown, will have a new and historically accurate shade garden come spring. Horticulturist Elizabeth Belk plans to fill it with native ferns and other plants that would have been present in the 1820s.

First, though, Wyck farmer Emma Morrow needs to move the chicken coop. It's over by the Wyck farm portion of the property, which is below the ha-ha, a trench that keeps livestock out of mischief.

Morrow grows vegetables, fruit, herbs, and cut flowers for Wyck's farmer's market from June to mid-November. This year, she's planting a new crop, popcorn, and tackling an old problem: how to prevent the squirrels from stripping the pear tree of every single piece of fruit.

Wyck, 6026 Germantown Ave., 215-848-1690, Opens April 1.

Contact garden writer Virginia A. Smith at 215-854-5720 or