Sunday, August 18, 2013
hot date to bartram's garden
The Excellent Wife (TEW), who doesn't ride anywhere near as much as I do, insists every now and then on having a daytime, weekend, outdoor date that doesn't have to do with cycling. Can you imagine?
This time, she found a neat trip. Patriot Harbor Lines offers a trip along the Schuylkill from downtown Philadelphia to Bartram's Garden, the home of an 18th-century botanist and naturalist. You get a half-hour boat ride there, complete with tour, a tour of the house and info about the gardens, and the boat ride back. The three-person crew of the boat is eager, friendly, and knowledgeable, and it was just that kind of quirky date at which TEW excels.
I got to see the river from a new perspective. The guide pointed out that "Schuylkill" means "Hidden River", and it certainly has been to me.
We got to the house and gardens after a half-hour. The house is a nifty stone structure:
There's TEW lookin' all summery:
Unlike most of the 18th-century historic houses we've visited (and their names are legion; TEW is a fan of early-American history), Bartram's house was of stone. And, even into his 70's, he did much of his own stonework: the window details and tiles below were done by him.
I love the detailing around the window frames.
The design on these tiles became the logo of the preservation association for the house and gardens:
Bartram was a Quaker, and before the Quakers got that radically-welcoming, revelation-is-ongoing thing down, he was read out of meeting (which is the Quaker version of excommunication) for denying the doctrine of the Trinity. On his house, he put up this plaque:
"It is God alone, almyty Lord/ The holy one by me ador'd." Take that, polytheistic Quakers.
Bartram traveled the colonies, and beyond, to collect plants (he went north to Maine, and south to Florida, back when Florida was undeveloped Spanish territory). On one trip to Georgia, he came upon a grove of these trees, and named them Franklinia, in honor of his friend Benjamin Franklin. When he went back to find the grove, it was gone - and now, all of the Franklinia trees in the world come from seeds that he saved. Here's a Franklinia flower below:
Other neat stuff in the garden:
Did you see the bullfrog in the one above?
Three hours for the tour, then on to the Reading Terminal Market for dinner. TEW has an unofficial plan to patronize every booth in the Market between the time we first started going and whenever we're too incapacitated to get there. Since the individual vendors keep changing, she marks off the locations on a floor plan. (We've still got quite a few to go.)