Groundbreaking Gardener

When Julie Bare, TYL ’12, first came to Temple, she had never even heard the word “horticulture” before. Now, the senior estate gardener at the Pennsylvania Horticultural Society (PHS) Meadowbrook Farm has made it her calling. 

Julie Bare standing in a greenhouse.
Photo credit: Joseph V. Labolito

Rooted in community

On a whim, Bare took Fundamentals of Horticulture as a first-year student, and “horticulture” not only entered her vocabulary—it became the focus of her professional aspirations. She set her mind to working at public gardens, and became increasingly convinced that a well-cultivated garden could improve and beautify communities.

“I never wanted an office job,” said Bare, “I was drawn to horticulture because it was outside and hands-on.”

Planting seeds for impact

Bare remembers the rainy day when her Fundamentals instructor, Barry Cyphers, took the class on a trip to Andalusia, an historic house and garden in nearby Bensalem, Pennsylvania, where Cyphers served as head gardener. Bare was enthralled.

“Visiting Andalusia was the turning point for me,” she recalled. “I didn’t know that was something you could do for a job—to take care of a garden.” She decided then to switch her major and asked Cyphers if she could volunteer at Andalusia.

Bare spent three summers interning at Andalusia as a Temple student. It was her gateway to the tight-knit horticulture community of Greater Philadelphia, which comprises more than 30 public gardens, arboreta and historic landscapes. 

During this time, Bare was also introduced to Temple’s 187-acre Ambler Campus, home to the Horticulture and Landscape Architecture programs. “It’s a giant garden, and it’s gorgeous.”

Julie at a Glance

A career blossoms

After graduating in 2012, Bare’s internship experience and many faculty-cultivated connections led to a position at PHS Meadowbrook Farm, a free, 25-acre public garden in Jenkintown, Pennsylvania, where she’s remained for the past eight years.

“We focus on making beautiful gardens that educate the public about plants, gardening, pollinators and wildlife,” said Bare. “We also have 11 production greenhouses. We grow all the plants for the garden, and we grow a large percentage of the plants for the Philadelphia Flower Show and other PHS public landscapes, such as the Navy Yard, Eastern State Penitentiary, the azalea garden by the Art Museum, Logan Circle and the Parkway.”

From her office, she sees trees and hears birds sing, and as she walks the grounds she sees the blooming of flowers she planted years ago. 

“Every time someone comes here for the first time, you get to watch people’s wonder and amazement,” said Bare. “I feel truly lucky that I found this.”

By Hillel Hoffmann and Dutch Godshalk