The Philadelphia Main Line, lies 30-minutes west of the city and was renowned for sprawling country estates. Today there are a handful of estates that now operate as cultural destinations that breathe new life into the region, along with a bevy of restaurants and shops to fill your day. Plan to stay for a night or two. The Wayne Hotel is a boutique option right in the center of Wayne, Pennsylvania.
Stop 1: Chanticleer, a Pleasure Garden
786 Church Road, Wayne, Pennsylvania
Visit chanticleergarden.org to confirm hours of operation.
➔ Arrive at 10am right when the garden opens and allow yourself two hours to explore and discover what pollinators and wildlife revel in the 7,000+ different varieties of plants maintained by skillful gardeners. Once the Rosengarten estate, today’s Chanticleer is a colorful, contemporary garden within an historic setting. The garden is a study of textures and forms, where foliage trumps flowers, the gardeners lead the design, and even the drinking fountains are sculptural. It is a garden of pleasure and learning, relaxing yet filled with ideas to take home. Visit to see for yourself why the London’s Financial Times called Chanticleer “planted to perfection”.
➔ There are many charming elements at Chanticleer—a productive Cut Flower Garden flanked by a working vegetable garden, creative seasonal plantings that incorporate tropical, non-hardy plants, and plenty of staff-made furniture for guests to sit and relax on. Perhaps the most brooding area of the garden is the Ruin, which is not to be missed. The Ruin Garden is composed of three rooms: a “Great Hall” with a fountain shaped like a large sarcophagus that rests on a mosaic “rug” of tile, granite and slate, a “Library” where the books are sculpted of stone, and a “Pool Room, where marble faces gaze up from the depths of another fountain. It is a landscape theater.
➔ There is no café to be found at Chanticleer, however guests can pack a picnic and enjoy light bite in the garden before zipping off to the next public garden. If a restaurant is more your style, stroll the main street in Wayne to find something that fits your fancy.
Stop 2: Stoneleigh: a natural garden
1829 East County Line Road, Villanova, Pennsylvania
Visit stoneleighgarden.org to plan your visit.
➔ Stoneleigh is a place with deep roots: towering trees, lauded landscape architecture, and community connections. For nearly 80 years, Stoneleigh was the home of the Haas family, who donated the property to Natural Lands in 2016 so that it would remain preserved forever. Stoneleigh is undergoing a transition from a beloved family home to a public garden rich with native plants so that everyone may be inspired to think in new ways about their own properties.
➔ The garden today features sweeping vistas and intimate garden spaces and serves as a showcase for native plants in all of their beauty. Check out where they are on this journey.
➔ Stoneleigh is home to several roofed lych gates. Translated from Old English, the word “lych” means corpse. In the Middle Ages before mortuaries, the dead were taken to the lych gate where they remained for several days and guarded against body snatchers until the funeral service. The lych gate sheltered the body and the vigil watchers from inclement weather. The lych gates at Stoneleigh are examples of romantic “follies” that became popular in 18th century English and French gardens, and later emulated by Americans.
➔ Stoneleigh features more than a mile of porous-paved walking paths. Restrooms, a picnic pavilion, and a water fountain are available during visitation hours.
Stop 3: Jenkins Arboretum & Gardens
631 Berwyn Baptist Road, Devon, Pennsylvania
Open year round from dawn to dusk. Visit jenkinsarboretum.org to plan your visit.
➔ Jenkins Arboretum & Gardens is one of the region’s great horticultural and environmental assets. As a botanical garden, the Arboretum maintains a collection of trees, shrubs, wildflowers, and ferns in a tranquil, naturalistic landscape. In addition, the Arboretum features an accredited, world-class collection of rhododendrons and azaleas from across the globe.
➔ The history of Jenkins Arboretum & Gardens is a love story. It sprouted from the love between a husband and wife and their love of horticulture and nature. This theme flourished at every stage, through the love between a father and son, the dedication of directors, donors, board members, staff, volunteers, and visitors with a deep love of horticulture and nature.
➔ While strolling the garden, head down to the pond and seek out the Franklin tree (Franklinia alatamaha). There you will find one of their largest specimens, with shiny green leaves, late summer flowers, vibrant fall color, and striped bark.
➔ The Arboretum is comprised of 48 acres of gardens and woodland, with 1.2 miles of trails.
Additional Recommendations Nearby
➔ If you’re looking to add plants to your garden after these visits, head over to Mostardi Nursery in Newtown Square, PA. It is a long-running nursery with its own greenhouse offering a wide selection of indoor & outdoor plants.
➔ To learn more about the history of the Philadelphia Main Line, visit the Radnor Historic Society’s website and take a walk down memory lane viewing their photograph collection and digitized maps throughout history, http://radnorhistory.org/.
➔ Have multiple days to fill? Visit the Wharton Esherick Museum, housed in the former studio of American artist, Wharton Esherick. https://whartonesherickmuseum.org/. A guided tour will take you through all three floors of the studio, a marvelously hand-crafted space that is like a time capsule.
➔ Downtown Wayne is full of restaurants, shops, and bars to enjoy.