Last weekend we continued our exploration of Philadelphia with a boat ride down the Schuylkill River and a tour of Bartram’s Garden. This was all thanks to Philly Fun Savers, a weekly email I subscribe to with half-off deals for Philadelphia activities. The day I stop being interested in a good coupon deal will be the day I lose interest in life.
We got two separate tours: one on the river, and one at Bartram’s Garden.
But I’m getting ahead of myself.
As you might be able to see from the pictures, Philadelphia has a fairly industrial history. And the Schuylkill has seen boom times (like when the fish were thriving) and lean times (like when the fish all died).
And while it would be nice if everywhere in the US looked all pristine and flawless and all (Oregon, stop making all the other states look bad!), we still need industry, you guys. Like industry to revitalize the river that industry also ruined.
The good news is that fish are back in the Schuylkill now! We saw many of them jumping around, and they didn’t have two heads or shriveled gills or anything.[Just don't eat them.] Industry and progress!
So, the boat took us to Bartram’s Garden (and house). John Bartram was an 18th century Philadelphian, farmer, botanist, and failed Quaker. The Quakers kicked him out because of his alleged Deist beliefs. It was very scandalous, but I guess that’s what you get when you hang out with Benjamin Franklin too much.
John Bartram and his son traveled up and down the eastern seaboard of the US and into Canada, collecting plants and doing scientific stuff, while the ladies of the house stayed home doing cross stitch after cross stitch after cross stitch.
The Bartram garden and home have been preserved by the City of Philadelphia, and are available for your touring pleasure.
One plant in the garden is the Franklinia, named after John Bartram’s friend Frank Linia. Just kidding, it’s named after Benjamin Franklin just like EVERY landmark/bench/school/bridge/ building/museum in Philadelphia. Apparently there were zero other famous mentor and/or father figures in Philadelphia in the 18th century.
Anyway, Bartram and his son discovered the Franklinia, brought it home and planted it, and then it was never found again in the wild. It’s a botanical mystery just waiting to have a book written about it. If it were me, I would call it: “And Then There Were No Franklinia.” So now any Franklinia plants you see are likely related to the one in Bartram’s garden.
We wandered around the gardens for an hour or so, and then we had a tour of the Bartram residence. It began as a modest home, and Bartram added onto it as he grew richer and more insufferable. Actually, he was apparently a very nice man, or at least, that’s what the powerful Benjamin Franklin lobby wants you to believe.
This was all a great way to spend an afternoon. Word to the wise, though, it will make you sleepy. The boat ride was so relaxing, and then we just slow-walked around gardens and an old house. Slow-walking is guaranteed to make you sleepy, a fact I’m reminded of every time I step foot inside a museum and then immediately look for a place to sit and recoup my sapped energy. We went home and took naps.
In conclusion, this post was sponsored by Benjamin Franklin.