Exploring Philly’s Pop-Up City Gardens

In the summer, parts of Philly transform into mini green oases, providing a place to relax, enjoy the warm weather, and maybe have a drink with friends. The pop-up garden trend doesn’t show signs of slowing down, and a number of new spots have opened up.

Philly has many vacant lots or otherwise underused spaces. At some point, a number of organizations had the great idea to transform some of those lots into public areas, or city gardens, designed to give people a place to relax and enjoy time outdoors during the warmer months of the year. The pop-up garden trend has spread like wildfire across the city, with restaurants opening their own versions and a few of the original options still going strong. If you’re looking for a place to go this summer that has a bit of green as well as food and drink options, check out some of the more well-known pop-up gardens and parks.

PHS Pop-Up Gardens

The Pennsylvania Horticultural Society has been building a pop-up garden in abandoned or under-used lots since 2010. In 2015, the organization, which runs a number of city gardens programs throughout the year, has two pop-up gardens going. The first is located just west of Broad Street in Center City, on South Street, where it was last year. The second is located by Pat’s Steaks and Geno’s Steaks in East Passyunk. Both offer food and drink and will feature a variety of special programming all summer long, and into the fall.

To get into the garden, you do have to become a member, which involves signing your name on a piece of paper, giving your email address, and taking a small membership card. The membership is free and gets you into both gardens all season, until they close at the beginning of October.

Spruce Street Harbor Park

Spruce Street Harbor Park first opened in 2014, turning a previously unpopular stretch along the Delaware River into a must-visit hangout site. When you visit the park, you can relax on a hammock hung up under the trees or head to the three floating barges, which offer a variety of food and drink options, as well as plenty of greenery and trees. There is also a selection of oversized board games, such as life-sized chess and Jenga, and classic lawn games, such as bocce. New for 2015 is a meadow that features perennial plants repurposed from an outdoor exhibition at the Philadelphia Museum of Art.

The Oval

Located on the Ben Franklin Parkway, directly in front of the Philadelphia Museum of Art, The Oval has the shortest season of all the pop-up gardens, as it’s only open from mid-July until the end of August. Although it’s only open for a limited amount of time, there is plenty to do at the pop-up park and garden, from movie nights to Quizzo. A variety of food trucks will be at The Oval throughout the season and a beer garden is located under a canopy of trees. The highlight this season might be the large mural, painted on the ground across the space. Sponsored by the Mural Arts Program, “Summer Kaleidoscope” is a 25,000-square-foot installation by Baltimore-based muralists Jessie Unterhalter and Katey Truhn.

This summer, you don’t have to escape to the mountains or the beach to enjoy a bit of green space. Visit one of the city’s many pop-up gardens and parks to get away from the hustle and bustle of a busy day, at least for a little while.

Image Source: Flickr/Ben Harwood


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