PHILADELPHIA — He was America’s first botanist, and his garden is still one of the best.
John Bartram was called “the greatest natural botanist in the world” by no less than Carl Linnaeus, who in the 18th century devised our system for classifying plants.
Bartram’s garden is a convenient stop during a visit to Philadelphia, just minutes from the Liberty Bell.
When he bought this tract along the Schuylkill River in 1728, it was rural land skirting the colonial city. Bartram’s botanizing took him throughout what is now the eastern United States, and this land was where he grew the many plants and seeds he collected in his travels.
His son, William, was a knowledgeable companion for those travels. The notes and sketches that William made during a four-year journey throughout the South, beginning in 1773, were eventually published as “Travels,” a book that would be published in several foreign editions as well.