• Lucy Dinsmore

Grave Gardener Happy Hour

Did you miss our Spring Happy Hour? Well, we're here to fill you in. On May 14th, Women in Hort spent a brisk Tuesday evening with the Grave Gardeners in the historic Woodlands Cemetery. If you remember that week, you'll recall that it was a chilly start to the week, before warming up substantially. Storm clouds threatened that evening, but held off, allowing us a couple hours to learn more about the Grave Gardener program and see their beautiful handiwork. We enjoyed yummy snacks, cold beverages, and it was chilly enough that some of us even used beer cozies!


We met at the Hamilton Carriage House, where minutes earlier, Executive Director Jessica Baumert was covered in dust and wielding a grinder while carefully uncovering the historic brick paving inside the carriage house. Outside, an assortment of annual and perennial plants were laid out for the Grave Gardeners' taking. Some were donated, while others, like a big bleeding heart, were leftovers from the 2019 Philadelphia Flower Show, where the Grave Gardeners exhibited in the Small Garden design category. On this evening, the gardeners came and went, picking out plants for their graves, and chatting with us about their work. Robin Rick, the Facilities and Landscape Manager, welcomed us to the Woodlands, and after introductions, toured us around to see some of the cradle graves, which were bursting with blooms.




The Woodlands is a 19th century rural cemetery on 54 acres in West Philadelphia. It was the former estate of plant collector William Hamilton, and is now a designated National Historic Landmark District. The Grave Gardeners are 150 volunteers that plant and tend to the cemetery’s cradle graves. Over 180 cradle graves are tended with Victorian-era plants. We toured some of these cradle graves, where roses and irises were in bloom, along with bleeding hearts and columbine. Of the roses that were blooming, the 'Magna Charta' rose was a highlight with large carmine-pink blooms and a fine damask fragrance.


The Woodlands is open daily from dawn to dusk, so check out the grounds and blooming cradle graves for yourself. They host fun events year round, like their upcoming Annual Benefit and Firefly Night, both happening in June.






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