Chestnut Hill Looks to Next 20 Years as Philly’s Garden District
by Lauren Johnson
In an area teeming with natural, architectural and cultural attractions, the Chestnut Hill Home and Garden Festival, held this year on May 7, offers a unique chance for visitors to experience it all in full bloom. Not only does this one-day event feature local garden vendors, artisans and demonstrations, it is hosted by a community whose commitment to the environment is sure to inspire.
“The festival began as a way to celebrate our dedication to green spaces and Chestnut Hill being Philadelphia’s Garden District,” says Martha Sharkey, executive director at the Chestnut Hill Business District. “The goal of the event is to introduce people to the wonderful urban village we have here in Northwest Philadelphia—we truly are the suburb in the city.”
Since 1996, Chestnut Hill has officially been designated as Philadelphia’s Garden District in recognition of its attention to sustainable urban planning, greenways and horticultural assets. This year’s Home and Garden Festival celebrates the 21st anniversary, and special events will be held throughout the area during the spring and summer months.
The area presents a perfect backdrop for the event, with easy access to the 1,800 acres along Wissahickon Valley Park, as well as more than 15 parks and green spaces throughout the community and business district, including the Woodmere Art Museum’s burgeoning outdoor sculpture garden and the picturesque Morris Arboretum.
In addition, private homes with gardens that are exquisitely maintained are peppered throughout, although they are not offered for tours during the festival.
“Amidst enjoying the surrounding natural beauty, we want to encourage people to walk around and experience the many diverse shops and restaurants along Germantown Avenue,” Sharkey says. “The garden festival is a wonderful opportunity to take it all in and has since become one of our signature events, attracting close to 30,000 visitors each year.”
During the festival, Germantown Avenue is closed down for foot traffic only, and guests are treated to a full-scale open air market celebrating all things garden-related.
The 150 participating vendors include local nurseries selling plants, pottery, terrariums, birdhouses and more. Demonstrations introduce visitors to beekeeping, worm composting, aquaponics and candlemaking.
There will be plenty of music and food as well as activities for children of all ages. Attendees can also ask their most burning gardening questions at the “ask the expert” booths stationed by volunteers from Morris Arboretum.