Contributed by Guest Blogger Rick Sellano

Giving thanks feels right. It’s what many Americans do, particularly at this time of year. On Thanksgiving Day—perhaps with a nostalgic memory of 1621’s celebration on Plymouth Plantation—we carve out time to reflect on what’s good. For those of us who live in or around Philadelphia, we have a distinct “30/30” privilege well worth acknowledging. We reside in America’s Garden Capital! With over 30 gardens, arboreta and historic landscapes within 30 miles of Center City, we don’t need to travel far to benefit from nature’s generosity.


Nature’s November in Morris Arboretum

Morris Arboretum, established in its history-rich setting in Chestnut Hill, is one beautiful example. A November visit is, without a doubt, a bounty to be harvested. Neighboring Anglecot, Graver’s Lane Station, and Inglewood Cottage would likely tip their hats to the abundant richness of the Commonwealth of PA’s official arboretum. A visit to Morris Arboretum this month bestows us with a cornucopia for the senses. Think butterscotch-colored foliage, rich russet leaves, high-energy, evergreen limbs and distinctive fragrances! A must-see is our Engler beech (Fagus engleriana)—one of our Great Trees. Another high-octane “GT” is our Katsura (Cercidiphyllum japonicum), which does double duty with striking yellow color and a sugary aroma. Marvel at the reality of the redwoods (Dawn redwoods / Metasequoia glyptostroboides) when taking in eye candy near the Log Cabin. Then, check out the Japanese maples (Metasequoia glyptostroboides), vibrant varieties that pepper our landscape with potent color. Wander past Willow-leaved spicebush (Lindera salicifolia), a Laurel family shrub that lives up to its name and grows near the Long Fountain. Hardly last and certainly not least on your list might be the lovely, Fine tooth holly bushes (Ilex serrata). Natives of Asia, these holly bushes are often fundamental to a florist’s fall arrangement. You’ll find so many gifts from Mother Nature in the landscapes and gardens of Morris Arboretum.


Plants Plus People

What would a garden be without the delicate dance between Planet Earth and inspiring “human efforts”? No need to ponder that one for long. Instead, visit our Holiday Garden Railway, a timeless attraction that opens the Friday after Thanksgiving (November 25). Or, visit the beautiful and fascinating plant/people creation that is Wintergarden, America’s Garden Capital Maze at Dilworth Park. Created to be a large-scale winter attraction, you’ll find it on the Albert M. Greenfield Lawn at Dilworth Park near City Hall. The Maze, designed by Groundswell Design Group for both children and adults, features willow-branch archways, evergreens, trees, perennials, shrubs, and topiary sculptures from 32 area gardens. Twinkling lights and colorful plantings will give the Maze a festive atmosphere that will provide perfect photo opps to share. Anchoring the center of the Maze is a welcoming gazebo. Visitors can share their experiences and photos using the hashtags, #AmericasGardenCapital, #VisitPhilly, or #DilworthPark. The Maze was made possible by a generous grant from the William Penn Foundation to the Center City District Foundation (CCDF). For the most up-to-date schedule and information, visit


Bouquet of Choices

Picking a plum bunch of experiences is easy in America’s Garden Capital. Nearly right in our backyards, we can readily find an arboretum to adore! Among those to visit are the Arboretum at the Barnes Foundation (Merion Station, PA), Barton Arboretum (Lumberton, NJ), Jenkins Arboretum (Devon, PA), Henry Schmieder Arboretum (Bucks County, PA) and Tyler Arboretum (Media, PA)—and those are just the destinations with “Arboretum” in their names! Don’t miss Chanticleer’s well-deserved crowing in Wayne, PA, when it reopens spring 2017. Right now, delight in the spectacles that include the du Pont properties in PA and Delaware—Hagley, Longwood Gardens, Nemours and Winterthur—sites that show how family wealth can be used to create and perpetuate fabulous gardens.

And So, We’re Thankful

For many of us, there’s a lot of good fortune to foster thankfulness. Plus, there is an entire range of ways to enjoy Thanksgiving Day. It may even feel like the options compete for our time and energy. There’s the Bamberger family’s (today Macy’s) Thanksgiving Day Parade, an annual festivity that debuted in 1924. The Parade is a staple for many and sometimes beats football games for Turkey Day TV time. Yet, living in America’s Garden Capital means you don’t necessarily have to choose but can enjoy a myriad of well-planted destinations. In other words, you can have your pumpkin pie and eat it too. For example, the Wintergarden Maze is open until late February, and many garden gates stay open year-round. Like that combination of herbs in the dressing that stuffs our turkeys, the 30-something area gardens exist in tandem. These botanical attractions enjoy a special synergy, nearly all owing much to specific Philadelphia-area history. As roots reach across distances, our senses thrill and so many of us learn and enjoy. Join us in celebrating all the area offers!