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This past week I had the pleasure of visiting Tower Hill Botanic Garden in Boyleston, MA. I have posted about this public garden in the past and it is run by the Worcester County Horticultural Society which is the third oldest such society in America. Unlike the Massachusetts Horticultural Society which has apparently been mismanaged for years, Tower Hill is a jewel and still under development with plans which are phased in and implemented with precision. The horticultural staff always has something new showing in their gardens and on Wordless Wednesday I showed this plant, Swan Flower or Spiny Balls, Gomphocarpus physocarpus. Dawn from Tower Hill did identify it for me but I don't think she knew that I took the picture while I was at Tower Hill on Wednesday of last week. I thank her for the identification. This plant is about four feet tall and really quite interesting. As you can see from this next picture, spiny balls is an apt name. The honey bees were all over it. I will look for seeds for next year 's garden. The veggie garden at Tower Hill is always outstanding and this year's them seems to be music. The fanciful harp and the copper G clef are just two of the whimsical items which make this garden edible and interesting. The beds are a feast for the eyes. I had not seen this pepper before and it is a beautiful yellow with purple streaks. The container area is also color coded. I think it helps to have a greenhouse to get the garden started. Sometimes the simplest of plantings make a memorable impression as does this container planted with the succulent and placed on the water fountain. The borders are lush and full as the summer starts to unravel and thread its' way toward the shorter, cooler days of fall. The sun is much lower in the sky as evidenced by the dramatic shadows and backlighting of annuals and grasses. There are thoughtful, interesting plantings in all directions at Tower Hill. It is an exceptional place.
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Last week, before the fourth of July, I was wandering the ocean area of the Ocean State and stopped to see Kris and the gang at Blithewold. This time, only Kris was there working hard on a very warm day. When I found her she was in the midst of the greenhouse gardens watering. It was hot and windy, two conditions which add to the dryness but the view she has from her outdoor office is truly enviable. The poppies were still beautiful if a bit bedraggled as they reach the end of their party. This is the clematis 'Roguchi' which I was happy to see looking so floriferous as I had just purchased one on the Longwood trip. The gardens look beautiful as always. The staff at Blithewold has very high standards. This little pond garden is charming and the annual beds are always a learning landscape. This new path is inviting drawing one through and into the new children's garden. You can see the pretty blue benches in the back of this garden. They sit in the shade of the bamboo grove which has a path right through the middle. I love emerging into the bright sunlight from the dappled grove. The best part of my visit was actually getting to chat with Kris for a few moments. She showed me around and we talked plants for a while. I loved the row of sweet peas and even more so as Kris picked a bouquet for me to take home. She has the hands of an artist and gardener and wears her hat quite well. Long after this visit, the scent of sweet peas will remind me of our walk and talk in her garden and the still life on this potting bench. Thanks Kris!
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For anyone who hasn't visited Longwood Gardens I would highly recommend a visit. Longwood is a great family destination with masses of bedded annuals,
and now, even tree houses.
The tree houses are a recent addition and kids and adults alike were clamoring up the stairs for the birds' nest views each afforded. Longwood currently occupies 1050 acres in Kennett Square, PA which is about thirty miles from Philadelphia. I am not in love with the mass bedding of annuals
but most of the general public seems to love the impact of hundreds of colorful annuals. I do find the shape of these rose arbors
satisfying and that the roses were in full bloom just made them more so.
There are interesting containers along many of the
One of the largest draws at the garden is the conservatory which covers 4.5 acres with twenty different gardens inside. I think it would be of even more interest when the weather is cool and dismal in the winter. There is an explosion of color inside with the lawns, plantings, and pools but at this time of year, I find the outside gardens, such as the waterlily courtyard, more inviting. The vegetable gardens are also of great interest not only for the varieties of vegetables grown and the layout, but for the trellising structures used for the peas, green beans, and the tomatoes. There are bamboo tee pees for the kids and a sitting area complete with chairs and table. The vegetables look luscious and some are ready to pick. I wonder who gets to eat these? There is no classic perennial border at Longwood. There is this modernistic garden of pathways and perennials but no voluptuous English border. I find that a bit interesting and wonder about this omission. I would love to see a curving perennial border in one of the garden areas. There is certainly enough room and it is to be expected don't you think?
Longwood Gardens is a place which is dedicated to education and the enjoyment of horticulture. It is meticulously maintained and those who work there should be applauded!
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I posted the other day about Meadowbrook Farms in PA. This small garden has many rooms plus a beautiful perennial border and a gift shop. In addition to the dipping pool that I showed there is this great pool.
That is one of my beautiful sisters posing in the background. I think she is considering a plunge!
This is the view looking back across the pool. All the gardens are on an axis related to each other.
There is statuary everywhere but it is well used as intriguing accents and is not bothersome as some statuary can be in a garden.
This piece is in the garden by the gift shop. What do you call this kind of buddha?
Double border along walkway
I had to show the perennial borders because as perennial borders go,
these, one in the sun and one in the shade, are beautiful and there really isn't a perennial border at Longwood, a disappointment, or at Winterthur which is a more naturalistic landscape. The shade border winds around the outside of the sunny perennial border and is a welcome relief from the bright sun. Pictures always come out better in the shade don't they. There is also a vegetable garden which is gated and fenced. There is no escape from critters even in the upscale neighborhoods of Meadowbrook, PA. I like this fence as it is fairly unobtrusive and there are some nice ornamentals in front of the fence. The gift shop entry has a colorful grouping of plants and there are fun things to buy in the gift shop. This little guy went home with one of my friends. A monster with a frog friend! Gotta love it! This is it from Meadowbrook. I took over one hundred pictures here so you have only seen a few.
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The drive and entry courtyard at J. Liddon Pennock Jr.'s home
It is difficult to leave the garden in June if only for a weekend but if one is to learn from the expertise and eye of others, it is a necessity. This past weekend I joined a tour group traveling to PA and the gardens of Meadowbrook Farm, Longwood Gardens, and Winterthur. Chanticleer had originally been on the tour instead of Meadowbrook but due to scheduling issues we were unable to see it. Meadowbrook
however, was an unexpected treat.
The entry door with a line of tiny, yellow pansies to step over.
Meadowbrook was the home of J. Liddon Pennock, Jr., a well known and respected florist and horticulturist in the area, the garden consists of twenty separate rooms. He and his wife, Alice, were
quite the entertainers.
Front facade (Who waters those Alberta Spruce in those high urns?)
All of the gardens have an intimate and inviting feel to them and all have small, charming details and ornaments making them unique. Most of the gardens were designed to be viewed from the house and that, to me, is the real charm of this garden. The 'Eagle Garden' is visible from the entry vestibule (I was not allowed to take pictures of the inside) and it has some interesting features such as this table of collectibles. This garden is just outside the living room and has a little sitting table. I always wonder if these are just props or were actually used by the owners. This next view is from the dining room window which looks out on the potager. There is a conservatory which is decked out with ficus pumila swags and this large staghorn fern over the door. The view from the outside patio is lovely in every direction. Gardens flow from one to the other with circles and rectangular spaces. There are little creatures watching over everything. I particularly liked this dipping pool but had to wonder at the notion of putting a cactus next to it. The Lyre garden has a music all its' own with the silver and gold plantings and it overlooks one of the gazebos. This is not a huge property but a lovely one and there are many other views worth showing so, if you will bear with me, I will add a few more tomorrow. To be continued...
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This week I took a side trip to Garden in the Woods which is a public, wildflower garden with great walking trails. It is in Framingham, MA. Lots to see there this time of year! There does seem to be a bug problem at the Visitor's Center. Can anyone identify this one! They do have some nice plants for sale in this area but I did not purchase any. The trail begins at this water feature.
Click on picture to enlarge
The little red flowers are pitcher plants, Sarracenia. These are Sarracenia oreophila. They are quite intriguing. Most of the plants in this wildflower paradise have identification tags. The trail bends down this hill with the Rhododendrons in bloom along the way. Beneath that Rhododendron is a stand of Maidenhair fern which is just beautiful. Trilliums line the pathways and so do ladyslippers although I only saw the yellow ladyslipper which I have never seen wild in the New England woods except for here in this garden. Still, they are pretty and very curious. Along the path there was this bench projecting from the stone wall. I want a few of these! Winding around hills and through wet depressions I came upon the bog gardens which have the pitcher plants growing in them. They seem prehistoric to me with their unusual form. One of the workers showed me how the flower forms a cup around the nectar necessitating the insect to climb inside this chamber in order to feed and spread pollen. This one is Sarracenia flava. A room of yellow for an insect! Have any of you ever heard of turkey beard, Xerophyllum asphodeloides? The seed head looks like this and it does form a softly textural carpet of clumps on the forest floor. It is not a plant I have seen before but I found it very interesting. Stopping at Garden in the Woods was a delightful respite from the sales circuit and we must all maximize our mileage these days which is my excuse for visiting along with the educational factor of learning a few new plant names. Here is one last, ethereal, shot of the Sarracenia. Do any of you grow anything like this?