A beautiful spring day at the Philadelphia Horticultural Center featuring the Sundial by Alexander Stirling Calder (1870-1945).   This is an Art Nouveau-style bronze sundial atop a sculpted limestone base representing the four seasons. Spring holds a rose; Summer carries poppies; Autumn wears grapes in her hair; and Winter has a pine branch.

The Basics

The Horticultural Center, located in West Fairmount Park at Belmont Avenue and North Horticultural Drive, is a set of greenhouses and an event space surrounded by beautiful grounds, gardens, and statuary.  There is excellent signage about the gardens and statuary.

Much of the grounds are accessible with paved walkways, although some statuary is set back, a challenge for wheelchairs or strollers.  Great for dog walking and for kids to run around.

The Center was built in 1979 and sits on the site of the former Horticultural Hall, an 1876 Centennial Exposition building. Located adjacent to the Shofuso Japanese House and Garden.

Dates and Hours: open 365 days a year during daylight hours.

Free with parking available.

Check out this suggested self-tour: https://www.associationforpublicart.org/tours/around-the-horticulture-center/

The Wrestlers: This is a cast of the 3rd century BCE Greek original depicting the Greek sport of pankration, a combination of wrestling and boxing. This cast was made from the marble Roman copy.   It is located near the parking lot.

We visited Pavilion in the Trees by Martin Puryear (1993) twice, once in winter and once in spring.  In the winter it’s easy to spot from the main grounds of the Horticultural Center.  It’s a sixty-foot walkway that leads across a natural basin to an observation platform – a square deck covered by a latticed canopy – that rises twenty-four feet above the ground. It’s a bit of a walk on a trail but well worth it when you get there.

Well, look who we found.  The poet, Friedrich von Schiller (1759-1805).  Was he my ancestor?  I’m looking into that. Statue (1885) by Heinrich Carl Johan Manger (1833 – 1891)

Jamie and Jade, hanging out with Giuseppe Verdi, the great composer.  By G. B. Bashanellifusi. A gift of the Italian Colony of Philadelphia in 1907.

Ask Jamie:

What did you like best?

Pavilion in the Trees. It would be a good spot for a snack or to read.  We had the dog, though.

What would you like to go back and see?

There are some herb gardens close to the greenhouses that weren’t growing yet when we were there.  I’d like to go back and see them.  There are benches around the small gardens. People were sitting and reading.

How was the spring visit? 

The tress were beautiful but the Japanese House was open, and the whole area was super-crowded.  They also had a pop-up beer garden. Parking was tough. The Japanese House isn’t open Monday and Tuesday.  I’d go then.