Andalusia Historic House, Gardens & Arboretum Opens Soon for 2023 Season!

-Courtesy of En Route Marketing

Andalusia Historic House, Gardens & Arboretum will open for the season on Saturday, April 1, providing visitors opportunities to tour the picturesque  property overlooking the Delaware River. The Biddle family’s early 19th-century Greek Revival home is situated on a sprawling 50-acre estate, surrounded by stunning native woodlands and spectacular  formal gardens. The Bucks County riverfront property is a National Historic Landmark just 13 miles from  Center City, Philadelphia. Andalusia is an ideal day trip for nature enthusiasts looking to enjoy dazzling gardens, explore wooded paths, or just relax along the riverbank.   

Andalusia dates back to the 18th century, when John Craig, a Philadelphia merchant, purchased the  property as a summer retreat in 1795. He built a house two years later, then expanded it in 1806-08  with additions by architect Benjamin Latrobe. In 1814, the property was passed to Craig’s son-in-law,  Nicholas Biddle, best known as the President of the Second Bank of the United States during the 1820s  and 1830s. Biddle was also a Renaissance man with a wide range of interests, including classical  architecture and agriculture. Under his care, Biddle oversaw an expansion of Andalusia’s gardens and  commissioned architect Thomas Ustick Walter to design a Greek temple façade to wrap around the  main mansion, known as the “Big House.” 

From April 3 through November 3, Andalusia will be open Monday, Tuesday, and Friday from 10 a.m. to  3 p.m., excluding holidays. Admission to tour the gardens has been reduced to $15 per person. Guided  tours of the Historic House are offered at 10 a.m. and 1 p.m. and cost $30 per person, including access  to the gardens. Tickets are available online or at Andalusia, though advance tickets are recommended for all house tours.  

Andalusia will also host six Open Saturdays, offering the public opportunities to enjoy the grounds during the weekends. The first Open Saturday is April 1, with additional dates May 20, June 10, September 23, October 28, and November 4. Each Open Saturday features special public programs and  offerings, including a daffodil and spring bloom garden walk in April, a garden photography day in May, a celebration of local rivers in September featuring beer on sale from Neshaminy Creek Brewing  Company, and a fall foliage tree tour in October. This year, Andalusia begins extended hours on  Saturdays, from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., with Historic House tours offered at 10 and 11:30 a.m. and 1 and 2:30  p.m. Visitors are encouraged to purchase tickets for Open Saturdays in advance from the Andalusia  website. Admission is free for children twelve and under.

During visits, guests can embark on self-guided garden tours aided by a map of the grounds. This spring, visitors can view a panorama of trees and flowers in various stages of bloom. Highlights include the  fragrant crab apple trees in the Graperies against the backdrop of the tall, elegantly weathered brick and  stone wall covered in purple wisteria. Visitors can stroll to The Woodland Walk to view a field of vivid daffodils and observe the Easter Garden’s brilliant array of blossoming magnolias, redbuds, and tulips that often peak this time of year. Other seasonal highlights include Virginia bluebell, lily of the valley, and a variety of rhododendrons, lilac, roses, wisteria, hydrangeas, pink flowering dogwoods, Japanese  flowering cherry, Southern magnolia, fringe tree, and many more.  

For a truly immersive and memorable experience, guests are encouraged to pack a picnic basket and  settle among the gardens, or along the riverbank, for a blissful afternoon recess. From the riverbank and expansive grounds, visitors have a perfect view of the Historic House’s exterior architecture and classic design and many other buildings that dot the Andalusia property. 

Masterful interior design and Greek revival style architecture combine inside Andalusia’s Historic House, which underwent several restorations in January 2023 to its Yellow Parlor and Ottoman Parlor. Rehung  draperies, restored decorative plaster ceilings, and newly painted walls and woodwork frame this historic treasure’s rich textures and priceless heirlooms. An expansive and impressive art collection— including Voltaire’s complete works edition of 1785, kept in Andalusia’s extensive library, ornate Chinese art, polished silver serving pieces, marble sculptures, carved stone and wood fireplaces, period furnishings, and commissioned portraits of centuries of Andalusia residents and extended family  members—make the Historic House a delightful must-see. Tours of the Historic House run one hour and are led by guides with in-depth knowledge of the property’s history, the Biddle family, and their  distinguished guests.  

One of the featured tours of Andalusia is the Champagne Garden Tour, hosted by horticulturalist and Andalusia Board Trustee Kristin Biddle. On June 10 and September 23, from 4 p.m. to 6 p.m., guests will  be treated to a glass of champagne and light refreshments on the grand porch of the Historic House. After a guided tour of the formal gardens, guests will return to the Historic House to relax while  overlooking the Delaware River or stroll along The River Walk. Champagne Garden Tour tickets are $65 per person; access to the Historic House is not included. 

On May 4, Andalusia hosts the first-ever Andalusia Garden Symposium, where attendees have the  unique opportunity to hear lectures from world-renowned experts Fergus Garrett, Annie Novak, Frances  Palmer, and Xa Tollemache. The Andalusia Garden Symposium speakers represent a cross-section of expertise, from garden and floral design to urban gardening to integrating ornamental plants into the natural environment. The lectures will be followed by an exclusive reception at Andalusia Historic House, Gardens & Arboretum with afternoon tea, book signings with the speakers, and ample time to  explore the magnificent grounds. Additionally, guests can extend their weekend by attending Andalusia’s Garden Party, an evening  cocktail reception on the banks of the Delaware River, Saturday, May 6, 2023. 

Those looking to support and preserve Andalusia and keep the site open to the public can join the  Friends of Andalusia, a membership program that offers exclusive offers and benefits. A membership to Andalusia Historic House, Gardens & Arboretum includes invitations to all special events and programs and the biannual newsletter, The Column, filled with news, articles, and more. Members also receive free Garden Admission and Big House Tours during public hours (free reservations are required for Big  House Tours to ensure availability).

The Andalusia Foundation was established in 1980 to preserve and maintain the grounds that are home to more than 1,000 trees, including nearly 250 unique specimens and cultivars from around the world. The estate’s natural beauty has been carefully curated over the generations to include an expansive flora and plant life collection. From 2017 to 2018, renowned British landscape designer Lady Arabella Lennox-Boyd led a revitalization of the grounds. This enormous undertaking led to the addition of some 10,000 plants consisting of assorted trees, shrubs, roses, and perennials. In 2020, Andalusia Historic  House & Gardens was officially designated an Arboretum after being awarded Level II accreditation by Arbnet thanks to its diverse collection of tree species, cultivation practices, specialized staff, and educational programming. The Morton Register of Arboreta also added Andalusia to its global tree focused database of public gardens.  

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