Hershey Gardens was created by Milton Hershey in Hershey, Pennsylvania after he was inspired by being asked to sponsor a national rosarium in Washington D.C. The rose garden that Hershey had created was a modest one at only 3.5 acres. The garden opened to the public in 1937 and over the course of the next five years, the garden was quickly expanded to 23 acres of cultured and landscaped botanical gardens.
The Garden became a part of the M.S. Hershey nonprofit foundation in 1989 and additional expanses occurred including a Butterfly House, Children’s Garden, and the Rose Garden has grown to over 7,000 bushes. There have also been wings added for horticulture and educational purposes, special events such as weddings and many themed gardens.
Hershey Gardens started out as a small rose garden dedicated in memory to Milton Hershey’s wife that was something beautiful for the community to enjoy. The gardens grew to six themed gardens in the mid-20th century and have now expanded to 11 that span 23 acres of land.
The Historic Hershey Rose Garden from 1937 when the garden was conceptualized still exists and is the most historically significant part of Hershey Gardens. There are over 3,000 roses from nearly 300 different varieties that can be enjoyed in the rose garden. The annual AARS rose variety winners are also showcased in this space every year.
Seasonal Display Gardens are a visitor favorite because it changes every few months with the season so visitors are unlikely to see the same garden twice. This is one of the most vibrant gardens with over 20,000 spring tulips and fall chrysanthemums that have rich tones.
M.S. Hershey Tribute Garden is one of the newer themed gardens created in 2012. This garden was dedicated to Milton Hershey on the garden’s 75th birthday. The M.S. Hersey Rose is showcased in this garden with a unique seating area and many other brightly colored plants.
Perennial Garden has a large assortment of the flowers that people most typically associate with spring and summer—daffodils, rhododendrons, black eyed susans, sunflowers and other native east coast assortments of wild flowers. In the fall, there are many ornamental grasses that are showcased and the jewel toned chrysanthemums.
Herb Garden is the most aromatic of the gardens with many bold and earthy scents to be enjoyed. There are many interactive opportunities in this garden where visitors can learn about medicinal herbs, household and culinary herbs, and how to make dye from a plant base.
High Point Garden is the direct tribute to Catherine Hershey, Milton Hershey’s wife. This garden is modeled after the Hershey historic estate garden and features old garden roses.
Rock Garden features plants throughout every season that grow in and around large rocks. There are conifers, holies and dogwoods mixed in with a variety of spring flowers and perennials to have a representation of all the seasons.
Ornamental Grasses is a tall walkthrough garden of decorative grasses as large as the giant reed grasses and some of the shorter fescues as well.
Japanese Garden is a peaceful and traditional Japanese style garden that promotes tranquility and reflection. The garden is secluded and features almost complete ground cover as well as large Japanese Maples, Redwood trees and shrubs.
The Bill Bowman Garden is dedicated to a past director of Hershey Gardens and features a bronze sculpture and award winning roses as the focal point.
Oak Grove is a natural grove of tall and shady oak trees. There is natural wildlife such as birds, squirrels and chipmunks that can be seen frequently. There are benches for seating on the path through the trees.
The Children’s Garden is an entirely separate garden within a garden. There are 32 individually themed gardens in The Children’s Garden and many hands-on learning experiences that families can enjoy together.
There is an education center, butterfly house, amphitheater and tree house all located within this garden as well. Some of the themed gardens include the kisses fountains, caterpillar tunnel, pioneer herb patch, Native American garden, and several more.
The Arboretum is a special tree garden featuring the Four Seasons Statues, and trees that are native to Pennsylvania and the East Coast. There are walking paths and seating in shady areas for visitors who want to experience a walk in the woods.
The Butterfly Atrium is open all year and is kept as a tropical like climate for as many as 600 butterflies at a time. There are many tropical plants and a water system that will make visitors feel as though they are in the Jungles of South America, Asia, and Africa, the three continents that most of the rare butterflies in the atrium come from.
The Conservatory was built by the Hershey’s so that flowers could be viewed all year long, even in the winter. The all glass green house is a favorite for visitors looking to escape the cold and see something tropical.
The Gift Shop is in the Welcome Pavilion where stained glass butterflies and palm trees greet visitors at the ticket booth. This gift shop includes home décor, statuary, jewelry and Hershey Gardens mementoes like key chains, pens, and t-shirts. There is also a large assortment of educational gifts and children’s book.
Educational and Horticulture Wing is part of the Hershey Conservatory and features tropical plants, tree samplings, and educational exhibits that rotate with the seasons. This wing is also where school trips and homeschool groups are held.
As a non-profit initiative, Hershey Gardens hosts several school and public tours and programs. There are separate programs for homeschool, pre-k, elementary, middle and high school students. School groups will receive guided tours and a program tailored to their curriculum. These programs are during school hours.
Hershey Gardens also hosts summer day camps where kids explore the garden with hands on learning instruction and have lunch in the outdoor pavilion. There are art, science, and theater performance that are also part of the summer day camp programs.
Every year, Hershey Gardens has a schedule of Girl Scout workshops where all different levels of girl scouts can come and earn their badges. There is a scavenger hunt badge up for grabs every day at the garden. All girl scouts need to do is print off a scavenger hunt form online and bring it to the Garden, complete it and turn it in to get their badge.
There are adult programs as well that include lectures, workshops, lessons on horticulture and culinary herbs.
There are many special events that are hosted at Hershey Garden for the community and for fundraising for the gardens and other community organizations. Conservatory Notes is a special event featuring award winning violinist Odin Rathnam, where wine, cheese, and chocolate will be served and guests can leisurely stroll both the conservatory and the Butterfly Atrium before the concert.
There are also special holiday events in December including a Music and Crafting Night featuring local choirs singing holiday songs and creating ornaments to be displayed in the Horticultural wings. Santa visits the gardens during December and children can enjoy a special holiday presentation with Miss Maggie, a popular children’s performer the week before Christmas.
Pumpkin Glow is the fall and Halloween themed children’s event the last few weekends in October. Children under the age of 12 can come and trick or treat throughout the gardens with flashlights and live pumpkin carving demonstrations are held.
Marvelous Mondays Happen every Monday in the Children’s Garden. There are crafting activities, puppet shows and other great events for kids for the first two hours of opening.
Bonsai: Living Art of the Susquehanna Bonsai Club Exhibit is a popular exhibit put on by the Garden annually that feature bonsai trees that have been crafted in a variety of designs. This exhibit also educates on the cultural significance of the Bonsai tree and how they are grown and cultivated.
Other events occur throughout the year on holidays such as Easter, Mother’s Day, Father’s Day, or for dedications or grand openings of exhibits. These events are open to the public but are subject to change.
During any weekend a wedding could be hosted at the Hershey Garden’s which may close parts of the Garden off to visitors. Weddings hosted here will have the choice of a reception in The Conservatory, a tent reception in the garden, an hour of private photo time and choice of five different ceremony options. Guests will also have access to the gardens before, after and during weddings. Visitors should be aware that the garden will be busier on the weekends, especially in the spring, summer and early fall.
Hershey Gardens is wheelchair accessible; however, to avoid rough terrain, those who need handicapped accessible pathways should follow the highlighted path on the map available at the ticket booth.
There is no outside food or drink allowed into the gardens. There is also a very strict no smoking policy on the grounds. Hershey Garden’s also asks that visitors refrain from picking flowers or otherwise disrupting the landscaping including leaving the pathways.
170 Hotel Road, Hershey, PA 17033, Phone: 717-534-3492