Garden Highlight: Bowman’s Hill Wildflower Preserve

BHWP Entrance Sign

The trouble with buying plants from nurseries is that they are small and you may not be sure what they are going to do once unleashed in your landscape. To help inform your plant selection decisions, may we recommend visiting your local public garden?

In a public garden you will find plants in surprising combinations. You will find mature plants that will give you an idea of what that little plant at the garden center will grow into. You will find experts willing to answer your plant questions. Some will have informational signage and plant labels, most have workshops and lectures, some are strictly for pleasure. Some have plant sales, some have gift shops. All will surround you with a staggering diversity of plants to fill your wish list. While most gardens have a season that is favored by most visitors, it is essential that you visit gardens in each season. Seasonal visits are a great way to learn what to add to your gardens that will increase your diversity providing you with year-round interest in the garden.

Bowman’s Hill Wildflower Preserve offers all of the above. Primarily known for the spring display of bluebells, with 134 acres to explore and nearly 800 species of Pennsylvania native plants Bowman’s Hill is a stunning place to visit any time of the year.

Early Spring Display of Mertensia virginana (Virginia Bluebells) and Stylophorom diphyllum (Wood Poppy) along the Parry Trail.

Bowman’s Hill is known for their early spring display.  Here Mertensia virginana (Virginia Bluebells) and Stylophorum diphyllum (Wood Poppy) combine for a exquisite vernal show along the Parry Trail.

A Great Place to Visit Any Time of the Year

All seasons are great seasons to visit Bowman’s Hill. As you plan your trip you can find out what will be in bloom with this monthly bloom list. In the Autumn take in the fall colors of the large trees in Penn’s Woods. Winter exposes the bones of the preserve. Look for the geology of exposed boulders, the skeletons of deciduous trees, fascinating fruits the many birds haven’t yet eaten. This structure is often hidden by the green leaves and you are distracted by all of the flowers while exploring in different parts of the year. Spring is, of course, stunning at the preserve. Fleeting spring ephemerals abound, gracing us with their jewel tones and then disappearing nearly as quickly as they arrived. Summer is also a beautiful time at Bowman’s Hill.

Summer at Bowman’s Hill Wildflower Preserve

Stop in over the summer and take in the beauty of the meadow.

Stop in over the summer and take in the beauty of the meadow.

The display in the meadow at Bowman’s Hill changes daily and as quickly as the blooms change so too do the winged visitors. Bees abound. Birds of all kinds take in insect meals. Though there are paths through the meadow, take a seat. You will be mesmerized. Sit and watch the show. Just some of the flowers on display through the summer are Ruellia humulis, the Wild Petunia; Veronicastrum virginica, Culver Root; Hibiscus moscheutos, Swamp Rose Mallow; Verbena hastata, Blue Vervain, and Tradescantia virginiana, Virginia Spiderwort.

More than Meadows

The meadow is in front of the preserve, outside of the 100 acres of deer-fenced wildflower area. The visit doesn’t end with an exploration of the meadow. Be sure to go inside the fence. You will find an ‘Idea Garden’ filled with plants suitable for home landscapes. This idea garden is right outside the visitor center – a must-stop for any birder. Take a moment to sit and observe the many birds at the feeders through the large picture window. As you meander the more than 12 miles of trails you will come across creeks, bogs and even a brand new pond.

The spring house and water falls of the new pond

The spring house and water falls of the new pond

Planning Your Visit

Before you venture to Bowman’s Hill, please take a look at their suggestions to visitors.

Come Prepared! Bowman’s Hill Wildflower Preserve propagates many of their own plants (yes, they do get some from us too) for sale. Make sure you bring some folding money just in case you find something in the Twinleaf gift shop or on the many tables at the native plant sales.

Bowman’s Hill Wildflower Preserve

1635 River Road

New Hope, PA 18938

No pets no picking

There are many public gardens around the county with countless plants on display. In these places you can view unique combinations, mature plants or plants used in ways you may never have considered. To find a garden near you visit the American Public Gardens Association’s “Find a Public Garden” tool. There are many to visit and many with native plants and sustainable gardens on display. Bowman’s Hill Wildflower Preserve is a great place to start.

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