PHS Garden

Originally the home of J. Liddon Pennock and Alice Herkness Pennock, Meadowbrook Farm is a 25 acre property where visitors can come to enjoy formal and informal gardens, seasonal plantings, and an extremely diverse plant palette. The Pennocks were known to say, “We didn’t want to have an estate, we wanted a place that our friends could enjoy”. Visitors continue to enjoy the gardens thanks to their bequest of the property to the Pennsylvania Horticulture Society in 2004. Celebrate the garden as art at the PHS Garden at Meadowbrook Farm, where the gardens have been lovingly tended for over 80 years.  

Planning on these remarkable gardens began in 1936 after the completion of the Pennock’s home. Mr. Pennock was the first gardener at Meadowbrook Farm. He had a deep love and appreciation of plants and was often seen carrying a pair of clippers when walking the gardens. It was not uncommon for him to climb onto a brick wall to snip a stray bit of holly or remove a spent flower. The terraced garden was designed on a linear axis with intimate focal points directing your gaze down the vistas. Many of the focal points and accents in the garden are gazebos, structures, and statues repurposed from the years Pennock spent exhibiting at the Philadelphia Flower Show. 

Pennock created a series of lush “garden rooms” throughout the terraces using many varieties of holly, pieris, boxwood, southern magnolia, camellia, cherry laurel, and aucuba as evergreen backdrops for colorful, seasonal plantings.  Pennock said about his garden, “nothing can be seen except from where it is intended.” Discovery and surprises wait around every corner. Pennock is also quoted as saying, “We plant for every effect, for the seasons, for continuing flowering, for the evergreen quality.” Every garden is always evolving, but much of what Mr. Pennock planted remains today. Our gardeners draw inspiration from what he left behind and still fill the garden beds and containers with hundreds of annuals, tropicals, and perennials every spring and summer to provide a stunning show to visitors throughout the growing season.

There is much to admire as you walk through the gardens today, in particular an old pair of cloud pruned Tsuga canadensis (eastern hemlock), an enormous cloud pruned Taxus baccata (English yew), espaliered Magnolia grandiflora (southern magnolia), a grove of Franklinia alatamaha, and a large Acer griseum (paperbark maple).

In addition to formal garden beds around the house, the PHS Gardens at Meadowbrook Farm include a large display garden, pollinator garden, cutting garden, xeric garden, cacti and succulent garden, rain garden, rock garden, and woodland path. The gardens are free and open to the public April to September. Docent led tours are available. To join an upcoming tour, visit our calendar page. To schedule a group tour, visit our tours page.