Northeast Times

Celebrating among Friends

— Quakers foun­ded Friends Hos­pit­al in 1813 as the na­tion's first free-stand­ing psy­chi­at­ric hos­pit­al.

Car­ol J. Del­gado, Dir­ect­or of Ad­min­is­trat­ive Ser­vices with Thomas Scat­ter­good Found­a­tion, sits next to a wooden tabe craf­ted over 150 years ago at Friends Hos­pit­al. The table is one of two ever made in the world, and is part of the his­tor­ic fur­niture found in the hos­pit­al room, where tea will be served to cel­eb­rate its 200th an­niversary next month, Thursday, May 24, 2012, Phil­adelphia, Pa. (Maria Pouch­nikova)

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The grounds at Friends Hos­pit­al are a neigh­bor­hood treas­ure that not many people get to see any­more. There are no pub­lic tours of those 100 acres, but, in June, the pub­lic will have a chance to see the well-main­tained gar­dens of nat­ive plants and stately trees that grow be­hind the fences along the 4600 block of the Roosevelt Boulevard.

As part of the 200th an­niversary cel­eb­ra­tion of the Quaker psy­chi­at­ric hos­pit­al’s found­ing, the non-profit Thomas Scat­ter­good Found­a­tion will be con­duct­ing a series of events that will be edu­ca­tion­al, fun and, mem­bers hope, fund-rais­ing.

From June 1 through June 29, a show of con­tem­por­ary botan­ic­al art, “Friends Hos­pit­al Grounds: A Liv­ing Leg­acy” will be presen­ted dur­ing nor­mal busi­ness hours.

More than 30 pieces of art will be on dis­play in the hos­pit­al’s his­tor­ic build­ing. Ad­mis­sion is free, said Scat­ter­good Found­a­tion dir­ect­or Car­ol Del­gado.

Prints and oth­er items will be on sale. The found­a­tion is hop­ing to raise money to re­store the aza­leas grow­ing on the hos­pit­al grounds. New aza­leas re­cently have been planted, she said.

“The whole pur­pose is to put money in the gar­dens,” Del­gado said.

For more than 60 years, the hos­pit­al had yearly “Garden Days,” when the pub­lic could tour the grounds, said Car­ol Ashton-Her­gen­han, chair of Friends Hos­pit­al’s board and a mem­ber of the found­a­tion. Those events stopped in 2000, she said. The prop­erty has to be re­stored to a more present­able con­di­tion, she said.

The garden’s stats, es­pe­cially con­cern­ing aza­leas, are im­press­ive.

The grounds con­tain 115 aza­lea vari­et­ies rep­res­en­ted in 20,000 plants, Ashton-Her­gen­han said in a phone in­ter­view Fri­day.

Dur­ing brunches and teas in the hos­pit­al’s Scat­ter­good Build­ing on June 2 and June 9, Orefield, Pa., res­id­ent Kirk Brown will por­tray 18th cen­tury Quaker bot­an­ist John Bartram.

Bartram, some­times known as the “Fath­er of Amer­ic­an Bot­any,” was a farm­er who star­ted a small ex­per­i­ment­al garden on his prop­erty. Bartram’s gar­dens still ex­ist in the city’s King­sess­ing sec­tion and are part of the Fair­mount Park Sys­tem.

From grow­ing plants that simply in­ter­ested him, Bartram moved on to ser­i­ous study, trips, books, cor­res­pond­ence with European bot­an­ists and ex­changes of seeds and spe­ci­mens.

Dur­ing the June 2 brunch from 9:30 to 10:30 a.m., Brown’s Bartram will ex­plain how he in­tro­duced and defined the prac­tices of bot­any, dis­covered plants, de­veloped a sys­tem of plant no­men­clature, ex­plored Amer­ica and de­veloped cor­res­pond­ence with European ar­is­to­cracy.

At a tea from 2:30 to 3:30 p.m. the same day, he will talk about the more than 200 plants he dis­covered and how his plant ship­ments re­for­es­ted the whole of south­ern Eng­land, adding col­or to the is­land’s au­tumns with Amer­ic­an oaks, wil­lows and maples.

These events on the ground floor of the hos­pit­al’s main build­ing will give guests a peek at the “an­tique room,” Del­gado said.

The el­eg­ant space, once the hos­pit­al su­per­in­tend­ent’s par­lor, is fur­nished with pieces that are 100 years old or older, Del­gado said. A 150-year-old table in the room is one of only two in the world, she said. The oth­er is in Eng­land.

At the June 9 brunch, Brown’s Bartram will talk the heal­ing be­ne­fits of plants. He val­ued the res­tor­at­ive power of nature. Dur­ing the June 9 tea, he will fo­cus on the spir­itu­al val­ues of his for­ays in­to the wil­der­ness and about how he star­ted the first pub­lic gar­dens in Amer­ica. After years of in­tro­du­cing plants, King George III dubbed Bartram the Of­fi­cial Bot­ant­ist of the North Amer­ic­an Colon­ies and presen­ted him with 50 pounds an­nu­ally.

Ashton-Herge­han said she met Brown at a garden­ing sem­in­ar in which he ad­dressed at­tendees as John Bartram. When he vis­ited the hos­pit­al’s grounds, she said, he came dressed as the bot­an­ist.

“This guy does not go out of char­ac­ter,” she said. ••

Brunches are $25 per per­son; teas are $15. For more in­form­a­tion and to re­serve seat­ing, call 215-831-3000. 

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You can reach at jloftus@bsmphilly.com.

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