Tyler Gardens History
Tyler Formal Gardens were built in the early 1930s on a hilltop overlooking Neshaminy Creek in Bucks County. They served as an "outdoor parlor" for George F. and Stella Tyler, original owners of the property.
The gardens currently reflect early twentieth-century horticulture, and originally were greatly influenced by larger French and Italian gardens. Tyler Formal Gardens are divided into levels and compartments, separated by stone walls and shrubs, and feature an espalier, sodded lawns, water fountains, gravel pathways and bronze sculpture.
The first level is a courtyard framed by a stone wall with central fountain, an orangery and balustrade. This level contains pin oaks as well as 40 espaliered pear trees consisting of four old-time varieties: Bartlett, Comice, Moonglow and Delicious. Originally, during warm weather, the walkway was lined with citrus trees in large containers.
The balustrade and dramatic double staircase lead to the second level, which contains an English formal garden with symmetrical "rooms" on each side. This level features water fountains, sheared shrubs and several bronze sculptures from the Stella Elkins Tyler Collection.
Against the staircase wall closest to the mansion, from left to right, are:
- Hybrid Magnolia, "Leonard Messel"
- Purple smoke tree or shrub, Cotinus coggygria f. purpureus
- Southern Magnolia, Magnolia grandiflora
On the other side of the staircase, left to right, are:
- Holly tree with yellow fruit, Ilex opaca
- Lilac tree
On both sides of this level, against the side walls, are:
- Tree peonies, Paeonia suffriticosa
- Iris beds, Iris sibirica "Caesar's Brother"
- Native dogwoods (left) and Cornus kousa (right)
The sodded lawn is lined with hybrid yews, Taxus x media densiformis, and the four inner "rooms" are framed by hybrid boxwoods, Buxus. The far side of this terrace is framed by a row of arborvitae trees.
The long narrow beds framed by boxwoods contain:
- Daylillies, Hermerocallis hybrids
- Daffodils, Narcissus "King Alfred"
The four inner "rooms" on each side contain:
- Daffodils, Narcissus "King Alfred"
- Armenian grape hyacinth, Muscari armeniacum
- Star of Bethlehem, Ornithogalum umbellatum
- Salvia sylvestris, "May Night"
- Coreopsis verticillata, "Moonbeam"
- Several other individual perennials, including ground covers such as Delospermum species
During the summer, these inner rooms are frequently augmented with annuals, such as petunias and marigolds.
The third level was the site of a swimming pool surrounded by lawn, gravel paths and trees. When Bucks County Community College acquired the property in 1964, the pool was filled in to make way for the first class in 1965. In 2006, the area was re-sodded.
Azaleas line the staircase wall from the second level. The two outer beds leading up to the bathhouses reflect the English style of wild gardens, containing a variety of plants.
The reconstructed gazebo at the far end of this level was moved from an area outside the walls at the top of the hill overlooking the creek. On each side of the brick walkways are sedums, pinks and low-growing junipers.
Originally, the fourth terrace, now a grassy area in the process of development, featured a clay tennis court enclosed by a stone wall and fencing. A grass court was also once part of the Tyler estate.
In 1987, Tyler Hall and Tyler Formal Gardens were placed on the National Register of Historical Places. Formal restoration of the gardens began in 1999, with the approval from the college and some financial assistance from its Foundation. Most of the financial needs of restoring the garden come from fund-raising events and donations, and a lion's share of the labor comes from volunteers.