If you haven’t yet visited the Italian Water Garden, we’re almost sorry to ruin the surprise. With its sparkling blue-tiled pools, splashing fountains, and lush lawns, it is, in a word, sublime. Enclosed by pristine allées of littleleaf lindens and mature evergreens, this formal space, nestled between its naturalistic neighbors, evokes a tranquil grandeur—and the allure of a secret garden.
About This Garden
Simple tones of blue and green comprise the palette of this symmetrical and exquisite water garden, lively with 600 water jets and views of six pools and 12 pedestal basins. There is an old-world flair to the formality of the design, which features hand-carved stonework ornaments, copings, urns, pedestals, and fountainhead decorations from Italy and Philadelphia. A curvilinear water staircase and stone wall with arched recesses add to the distinguished feel of the space while supporting the southern terrace. Hand-pruned littleleaf lindens (Tilia cordata) provide a canopy on either side of the garden from spring through autumn—and during the winter months, their artfully manicured limbs add a sculptural element to the experience.
Whether you enter from the wilds of the Meadow Garden to the north, from the lakes to the south, or from the woodlands of Peirce’s Woods or Peirce’s Park to the west, the contrast in garden design can’t be ignored. Part of what is so enchanting about the formal versus informal juxtaposition of these adjacent spaces is the sense of discovery it provides, particularly with the seasonal changes and all that they bring to the landscape. Especially lovely are the views of this garden from the terrace: Note the focal points of symmetry that lead one’s eye north to the distant Meadow Garden while still providing a sense of enclosure, with echoes of order seen in the shapes of the conical evergreens and the rows of lindens.
Please note: The water features of this garden can be enjoyed from mid-April until mid-October.