Travels Through North America, during the years 1825 and 1826
A merchant, Mr. Halbach, to whom I was introduced, took a walk with me to two gardens adjoining the city. One of these belongs to a rich merchant, Mr. Pratt, and is situated upon a rocky peninsula, formed by the Schuylkill, immediately above the water-works. The soil consists mostly of quartz and clay. The owner seldom comes there, and this is easy to be perceived, for instead of handsome grass-plots you see potatoes, and turnips planted in the garden. The trees, however, are very handsome, mostly chestnut, and some hickory. I also observed particularly two large and strong tulip trees; the circumference of one was fifteen feet. In the hot-houses was a fine collection of orange trees, and a handsome collection of exotic plants, some of the order Euphorbia from South America; also a few palm trees. The gardener, an Englishman by birth, seemed to be well acquainted with his plants. Through a hydraulic machine the water is brought up from the river into several basins, and thence forced into the hot-houses. There was also in the garden a mineral spring of a ferruginous quality. From several spots in the garden there are fine views of the Schuylkill, whose banks, covered with trees, now in the fall of the year, have a striking and pleasant effect from the various hues of the foliage. The other garden, called Woodlands, belonged to the Hamilton family. The road led us through the village of Mantua, which altogether consists of country-seats, and where Mr. Halbach also has his country residence. Woodlands has more the appearance of an English park than Mr. Pratt's country-seat; the dwelling house is large, and provided with two balconies, from both of which there is a very fine view, especially of the Schuylkill and floating bridge. Inside of the dwelling there is a handsome collection of pictures; several of them are of the Dutch school. What particularly struck me was a female figure, in entire dishabelle, laying on her back, with half-lifted eyes expressive of exquisite pleasure. There were also orange trees and hot-houses, superintended by a French gardener.