Roses and ramps and sticks, oh my!

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The Morris Arboretum's summer Garden Railway display opens May 23 and runs daily through Labor Day. (JUDY MILLER)

It was a long, cold winter, but when you live in America's Garden Capital, you've got a smorgasbord of public gardens and arboretums to help you recover.

And like every spring, there's always something new to see. This year: more roses on the rose-rich grounds of Wyck, the first garden renovation at Bartram's in about a century, and a new light and sound display at Longwood. Here's a sample of what visitors can expect:

Awbury Arboretum (awbury.org) in Germantown will host the first Heartwood Music Festival on May 16 as a way to introduce the arboretum to new visitors. In partnership with the Philadelphia Folk Song Society, the event will feature two stages of local musicians, local crafters and cooks, and kid-focused fun. For more information, go to www.pfs.org/heartwood.

Bowman's Hill Wildflower Preserve (bhwp.org) in New Hope is introducing Nature Rangers Summer Camp in July, where campers age 6 to 11 will explore the facility's more than 100 acres of ponds, meadows, and forests, learning about the plants and animals that live there.

Bartram's Garden (bartramsgarden.org). Over the summer, visitors will be able to watch the progress of the first major garden renovation in nearly 100 years at the 45-acre site. The Carr Garden, created by John Bartram's granddaughter and her husband in the early 19th century, will be restored - and will once again showcase exotic plants from Asia and the Carr family's own hybrid dahlias and camellias. Also, beginning May 5, the garden will offer a "Hidden History Tour," which will include a behind-the-scenes look at a 200-year-old ice pit, the oldest standing barn in the city, and what is believed to be the oldest greenhouse in North America.

Chanticleer (www.chanticleergarden.org) in Wayne will unveil its highly anticipated elevated walkway at the end of May, replacing a somewhat challenging and steep ascent by the Chanticleer House. With a more gentle slope that complies with the Americans With Disabilities Act, the walkway, designed by landscape architect Jonathan Alderson, has a rustic appearance, with hand-carved benches along the way and two viewing platforms that offer never-before-seen views of the garden.

Longwood Gardens (longwoodgardens.org). A new exhibit, "Nightscape: A Light and Sound Experience," will feature a garden-wide installation with music, images, and lights set against Longwood's natural backdrop. Created by local video art company Klip Collective, the project - to debut July 4 weekend - showcases rare views of the Kennett Square display garden in the dark, says Paul B. Redman, its executive director.

Morris Arboretum (www.morrisarboretum.org). After his wildly popular Summer Palace went up in 2009, artist Patrick Dougherty added a new "stickwork" sculpture - A Waltz in the Woods - that comprises seven towers made from willow saplings. On June 21, the garden will host a Steampunk Expo, with at least 10 workshops including learning about how Victorians were wild about ferns, and a lesson on Rube Goldberg-like inventions - all in the Victorian garden. The Chestnut Hill garden will continue its popular Garden Railway beginning May 23, where riders can see miniatures of iconic Philadelphia buildings and sculptures. And Morris will also offer a summer concert series on the Azalea Meadow Stage.

Scott Arboretum (scottarboretum.org) at Swarthmore College is showcasing its newest and largest green roof, an almost 35,000-square-foot expanse planted with grasses and perennials that tops the three-story Lang Performing Arts Center. While the arboretum offers green roof tours, the one on Lang, the fifth green roof at Scott, can be viewed without appointment from the art center's landing.

Wyck (wyck.org). Visitors to this former family home in Germantown will see newly installed garden beds to replicate part of the original 1820s design. Made possible by the fellows of the Longwood Graduate Program in Public Horticulture of the University of Delaware, the plantings may be best seen during the annual Rose Festival on May 30. Wyck's Rose Garden features 50 types of historic or antique roses, which have a shorter bloom time and a very strong scent. "It's really something to see, rich in scent and color," development director Kristin Hagar said. "A true sensory experience." The festival is free, but book in advance for guided tours.

 


To learn about the more than 30 gardens within 30 miles of Philadelphia, visit www.americasgardencapital.org.