Reconnect. Delight. Educate. Inspire. As an important resource for local ornamental horticulture, regenerative agriculture and community events, Hortulus is a 100-acre 18th-century farmstead and nursery operation, situated amidst beautiful, rolling hills at 60 Thompson Mill Road in Wrightstown.
During this April, Hortulus team members celebrated their second season opener under the stewardship of the Kontz family. Local landscape designer/owner of PLANT Design Group, Jon Kontz, along with his wife, Ariel, and their three young children, lead the operation.
“It's our mission to create encounters with the beauty in nature and one another through this beloved farm and experiences we create here,” says Jon.
“The idea of inspiring a whole new generation of gardening enthusiasts energizes us,” adds Ariel. “We're excited to invest in our community and planet via horticulture, and in doing so, inspire our neighbors alongside us."
Founded in 2008, The Hortulus Farm Foundation is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit community destination with a mission to ensure this historic property will continue to exist as a public place of tranquility and horticultural inspiration in perpetuity. Jon is the president of the foundation's board of directors.
The gardens' portion, previously under multiple owners, was created by famed garden and event designer Renny Reynolds and noted garden author Jack Staub. The gardens have been called "one of Pennsylvania's secret treasures" and "a garden of world-class charm."
A longtime member of Greater Philadelphia Gardens, in 2015, Hortulus Farm was honored by being made the second-only-in-their-history Affiliate Garden of The Garden Conservancy, giving it major new national prominence.
The property is the ancient seat of the Thompson and Warner families and an original William Penn land grant of 1683. The Isaiah Warner house, the classic stone home that centers the property, was built between 1793 and 1830, and was added to the U.S. National Registry of Historic Places in 2004. Two immense dairy barns, as well as other outbuildings, were added in about 1860, and the property was worked as a significant dairy operation by the original owners’ descendants into the 20th century.
The staff has an array of rare flowering trees, plants and palms that customers can use to decorate private events, weddings or parties. Whether looking for tabletop olive topiaries, rosemary standards, aged terra cotta or 12-foot palm trees, the staff can accommodate events, including design, white glove delivery and pickup service.
Jon says the nursery's ever-changing stock includes tropicals, standards, espaliers, topiaries, their signature caged and frame-grown specimens, and a superb collection of hard-to-find perennials, shrubs and annuals.
Hortulus also offers furniture, garden tools, pottery, home decor products, festivals, vendor marketplaces, gift cards and seasonal special events. Plans are slated to again host an Hortulus European Christmas Market in December.
New Option Launched
This year, Hortulus Farm team members broke ground for a future Children's Botanical Play Garden. "As a leading destination for nature enthusiasts and families, it's always been our mission to create an experience filled with wonder, exploration and imagination. With the addition of the Children's Botanical Play Garden, we're taking this mission to the next level," Jon says.
Designed as a restorative environment, Ariel says the Children's Botanical Play Garden will provide a space where families can escape the hustle and bustle of daily life and reconnect with each other and with nature.
"Our hope is to foster a love for the natural world and joyful discovery in every child who visits," adds Lindsey Vogel, Hortulus marketing director.
This unique garden will feature a variety of interactive exhibits, including a sensory garden and butterfly habitat. Lindsey says carefully curated exhibits are being designed to engage children's senses and inspire creativity and curiosity.
Ariel states they believe that connecting with nature is essential to people's well-being.
Those interested may donate to the new garden project, with funds going toward creating and maintaining the garden.
Hortulus Farm Partners:
THE GARDEN CONSERVANCY
From the nation’s largest garden preservation organization, Hortulus Farm was made an Affiliate Garden of The Conservancy in 2015, the second only in their history.
GREATER PHILADELPHIA GARDENS
Philadelphia is America’s Garden Capital, where one can visit 30-plus public gardens, arboreta, and historic landscapes. Member gardens include Longwood Gardens, Winterthur, Chanticleer: A Pleasure Garden, Mt. Cuba, Bartram’s Garden, and Hortulus Farm.
THE JAMES A. MICHENER MUSEUM
The Michener Art Museum in Doylestown is a wonderful regional museum exhibiting both American and International paintings, sculpture, craft and design, and, most particularly, the work of Bucks County Impressionists. Hortulus Farm representatives loaned a number of important paintings to the museum and entered into a partnership with its staff regarding an annual "Art In The Garden" installation.
AUDUBON OF NEW JERSEY
Founded in 1897, the New Jersey Audubon Society fosters environmental awareness, protecting New Jersey's birds, mammals, other animals and plants, especially endangered and threatened species, and promoting preservation of valuable habitats. Hortulus Farm became an official NJ Audubon destination site in 2014, with 44 species of avian life identified to date.
Note that Hortulus public garden tours are slated to re-open during May 2024.
Hortulus partners with New Hope Arts for an Artist in Residence program to provide a series of weekend art events featuring varied mixed media and installation artists through the summer.