About Us


In 1912, Merritt Pharo, a Penn State graduate, chose a quiet spot on the outskirts of Bethlehem to open his garden center and landscape business. Pharo Garden Centre began providing plants, supplies, and services to area homeowners and Bethlehem Steel executives. In these early days, the horticultural industry had not yet embraced the “plants-on-demand” concept. Instead, plants were only dug in the cool weather of spring and fall. After Memorial Day, with the onslaught of summer heat, the garden center was quiet. Crews cut grass and tended properties until the hot weather subsided and fall planting was again possible.

The present owner, Raymond Steidinger, began his career at Pharo Garden Centre as a summer employee for Merritt, while attending Delaware Valley College in Doylestown, PA during the school year. In 1958, Merritt died suddenly and the business was handed down to his son, Dale Pharo. Subsequently, after college graduation with a degree in Ornamental Horticulture, Ray was hired full time by Dale and became his foreman.

In 1978, Ray bought Pharo Garden Centre from Dale. Then in 1981, Victoria Leister joined Ray and took over the landscape design responsibilities, having just completed that same degree from Temple University in Ambler, PA

1981 was an evolutionary milestone for the garden center. No longer at the edge of town, the 60 year old business had been overtaken by homes and businesses. Consequently, a new site was acquired, and the garden center was relocated on a 3 ½ acre empty farm field in Bethlehem Township, 2 miles further down the same road from the original location.

Now, over 30 years later, we are no longer sitting by ourselves. After extensive area highway construction, our once sleepy farming community bustles with activity. We have, once again, been joined by homes, schools, professional offices, and shopping centers. We sit beside a busy thoroughfare of Easton Ave/William Penn Highway, only ½ mile from the major intersection of routes 33
and 78.

The focus of our business has also shifted from landscape installation to that of a local gardening resource, supplying horticultural products and services to homeowners and businesses. We particularly emphasize organics.

Thankfully, much still remains to connect us to our rural beginnings. We still have fields to gaze across and an abundance of natural life surrounds us, reminding us daily to guard and keep safe that which also makes its living on our shared plot of land here at Pharo Garden Centre.