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small and other gardens

Chester County Ramblings - Sat, 2016-05-21 11:35

When I had a small garden, I hung plants on fences.

I did not have a really big garden before moving to Chester County. I had decent sized gardens over the years, but mostly small gardens.

You can create a lot of beauty in a small space garden, you just have to use your imagination. Pots play a larger part, sometime pots on walls and fences. And you can put almost anything in a pot.

My great aunts had a house in South Philadelphia that was a big row house – and basically the entire rear “garden” was concrete. And every spring / summer/ fall it was loaded with flowers and herbs and tomato plants…and even grape vines! And a lot of what things were planted in were actually old pickle barrels and containers. But it worked!

When I had a small garden, I still had a lot of “flower power” . This floral arrangement from years ago was all flowers and plants i was growing in my quite literally postage stamp sized garden at the time.

 And one of my grandmothers who lived in another area of the city (North Philadelphia, actually and they call part of where my father grew up “Brewerytown” but all the factories weren’t breweries) near the factory my one grandfather owned with his brothers had an amazing garden. It actually had a great deep garden that was narrow but long. I remember as a little girl being out back there and looking over low fences at the neighbors’ gardens too. Gardens like that can be super cool!


Another photo from my small garden years ago. I hung plants in the arms of my Japanese Maple.


When my sister and I were little and my parents lived in Society Hill, we had a wonderful city garden. In retrospect, it was probably smaller than I remember it (I was 11 when we moved to the Main Line), but it was along one side of the house and behind the house. My father had to excavate the privy pit from the early 19th century to plant it. 

My first garden was carefully laid out. I remember two trees, and one flowered but I am not sure of what they were (maybe a Magnolia, but too long ago). There was a sand laid brick patio in the back and the bricks were old. In those days when houses were  being torn down in Society Hill you could get just about anything out of the demolition sites, most times for free: brick, stone, windows, shutters, doors, hardware, trim, flooring, etc. we even ended up with an antique doll house as a result.

Posing in a corner of the then garden under construction with my mother. My best guess this was between 1968-1970.

Around the patio in an almost circular fashion were planting beds. Shrubs, my first rose (hybrid tea John F. Kennedy had recently been introduced), herbs, flowers. Along the side of the house was another side garden and a brick path leading to a side door with more shade loving plants like rhododendron and azaleas. 

The entire garden was walled in. Neighbors houses on either side, and high city garden walls where houses weren’t. There were also pots filled with annuals. I wish I had more photos of that garden, but few survived. The one photo I am about to post is of the garden a year or so ago off a realtor page when the house was most recently for sale. Today, the side yard part of the garden and other parts no longer exist because of additions subsequent owners added. But you still see part of my late father’s and grandfather’s handiwork and that is pretty cool.

My childhood garden in Society Hill in Philadelphia circa 2015 and a couple of additional homeowners later.

My parents then had larger gardens with suburban homes, and with two I was mostly conscripted slave labor, and the final one I planted easily 80% of it.

My parents final suburban garden was around their late 19th / early 20th century clapboard house. There I recreated essentially a period garden and for the most part plants you would have found when the house was built. It felt a little bit like Sissinghurst’s white garden because my mother the benevolent dictator had a thing about essentially all white gardens. I was able to work in some very pale pink and yellow antique garden roses everytime they went on vacation or traveled, but that was about it for color other than white.

My parents’ last garden in Haverford that I planted most of.

But I still loved that garden. It was marvelous I thought. I had over 50 different rose cultivars. And wonderful white hydrangeas, and Japanese maples, and a giant puffy flowering Kwanzan cherry tree in the front, and boxwood and azaleas and hollies and Itea. Piers Japonica and host as as well. Herbs in beds and in pots and a rose arch that also had the white clematis Henryii along with the Meilland rose “Eden Climber” that I had bought from Witerthur when they used to sell plants. I wish I had more photos of that garden, it was cool.

Roses and perennials and shrubs flowed over the edges of flower beds.

Unfortunately, the people who bought my parents’ last suburban house tore it all out. Even the Kwanzan Cherry Tree. I wish I could remember the name of the landscape company that did it.  I still think they probably made a fortune re-selling the plants. Nothing was distressed or over grown and so much was specimen planting. The company had “new” in the name. Their design was uninspired and somewhat dumb for a clapboard house with original clapboards. We never planted right up to the house because it was clapboard (wood). We always kept air circulation.

After that garden I had two much smaller gardens before Chester County. They were small like little city gardens. But you got creative and you could plant all sort of things. I utilized a lot of pots, but I still had my favorite garden elements, even Japanese maples I grew from seedlings. I hope those trees still survive, they were lovely.

Smaller gardens can pack just as big a punch as a big garden. And almost anything you can plant in the ground you can plant in a pot. 

Who says pots have to be planted with everything you “expect”? Think of pots as alternative planting beds.

 I will admit every garden I have had I have layered. For season, for bloom time, for effect. I like a lushness of plantings, not the constipated shrubbing I see that has become trendy and makes everything look like you are living in a Toll Brothers development. I don’t want predictable little plant soldiers all lined up in a row, I want a riot of plants; sensory overload.

And you can do that in small spaces. With my current garden, it’s large, but I still maintain the intimacy of smaller gardens in different corners of it.

Here a small head which broke off someone’s garden statue found a new life peeking out of a flower pot.

Design your garden so you see something new every time you step out into it, large or small.  And take the time to figure out what inspires you for your garden space. Your garden, like your home, is your sanctuary, so make it count.

Thanks for stopping by on another rainy Saturday. I think if it doesn’t stop raining soon, I will be spending the rest of the summer weeding…..

Somehow in every garden, large or small, I have to have a few zinnias.

Categories: Pennsylvania

Important End of School Year Dates For Lower Merion

Ardmore-Merion-Wynnewood Patch - Sat, 2016-05-21 09:00
In case you missed them before: here are a few upcoming important dates to know for the end of the school year.
Categories: Lower Merion

State Provides Montco Residents With Bottled Water

Ardmore-Merion-Wynnewood Patch - Fri, 2016-05-20 16:57
Recognizing the risk of contamination from harmful chemicals in the water supply, the state will provide residents with bottled water.
Categories: Lower Merion

Philly Releases Details On 'Welcome America' July 4 Festival, Concert

Ardmore-Merion-Wynnewood Patch - Fri, 2016-05-20 16:06
Everything you need to know about the 4th of July celebrations happening in Philadelphia this year.
Categories: Lower Merion

Free Rabies Vaccine Clinics In Montgomery County

Ardmore-Merion-Wynnewood Patch - Fri, 2016-05-20 14:34
Is your pet vaccinated? Get it done for free at an upcoming clinic in Montgomery County.
Categories: Lower Merion

Montco Housing Market Hits 7 Year High, County Says

Ardmore-Merion-Wynnewood Patch - Fri, 2016-05-20 12:38
There were more homes sold in Montgomery County in 2015 than any year of the last seven, a recent study from the county shows.
Categories: Lower Merion

One Killed By SEPTA Train In Philly, Regional Rails Delayed

Ardmore-Merion-Wynnewood Patch - Fri, 2016-05-20 12:28
All regional rail lines are delayed after one person was reportedly killed by a SEPTA train in Philadelphia on Friday.
Categories: Lower Merion

SoulCycle Opening This Month In Ardmore

Ardmore-Merion-Wynnewood Patch - Fri, 2016-05-20 12:17
The popular spin studio will open its first Pennsylvania location this month in Ardmore. The first classes are scheduled for May 27.
Categories: Lower Merion

It’s Official — Covered Wagon Inn is saved! Local history will coexist with CVS Pharmacy – thank you Summit Realty Advisors!

At last night’s Planning Commission meeting in Tredyffrin, the proposed land development project to construct a new CVS pharmacy building with drive-thru on the corner of Old Eagle School Rd. and Lancaster Ave in Strafford was back in front of the planning commissioners. Much has happened since the developer of the project, Summit Realty Advisors, […]
Categories: Pennsylvania

Are voter ID laws good policy? Will the laws impact the general election in November?

According to the National Conference of State Legislatures, a total of 34 states have laws requesting or requiring voters to show some form of identification at the polls. 33 of these voter identification laws are in force in 2016. West Virginia’s law, signed on April 1, 2016, goes into effect in 2018, missing the November […]
Categories: Pennsylvania

A tale of two school districts

Heron's Nest - Fri, 2016-05-20 06:17
Call it a tale of two school districts.

Both are facing massive deficits. But they're taking different approaches to solving their financial woes.

In the Upper Darby School District, they are resisting making cuts or raising taxes in the wake of a $6.5 million shortfall.

They rolled out a spending plan this week at a packed meeting and received a standing ovation when they announced they would not hike taxes, nor would they be cutting jobs or programs.

We even went to bat on our editorial page today for the district for their efforts in not hiking the levy on property owners who have been hit with one increase after another on that bane of Pennsylvania home owners - the property tax.

Things didn't do quite so well down the road at the Interboro School District.

Once again there was a packed meeting.

But residents in Interboro learned the district is considering both cutting jobs - and raising taxes.

The district is $3 million in the red, and they say eliminating more than 20 jobs, including both teachers and support staff, along with the tax hike, still won't balance the books.

They are vowing to try to whittle the cuts before the final budget is adopted.

In the meantime, out in Harrisburg, our elected leaders are once again starting to prepare for another budget standoff.

We all know how the last one went.

But the problem remains the same. School districts - and taxpayers - are drowning in red ink.

I wonder if our leaders in Harrisburg are paying attention to what happened in Delaware Count this week.
Categories: Pennsylvania

My suggestion for a new state slogan

Heron's Nest - Fri, 2016-05-20 06:04
My one-man campaign to get Pennsylvania out of the booze business, blow up the state stores, and turn that entire operation over to private enterprise continues to spin its wheels.

Yes, I am the state's leading proponent of allowing Total Wine or some other private entity dip their feet into the waters of Pennsylvania's alcohol biz. I want to be able to grab a six-pack at Wawa. I'd love to be able to pick up a bottle of wine for dinner while I'm getting my groceries, although I don't want to have to do it in a separate part of the store. I'd like to do what people in most sane states do, put a bottle of wine or case of beer in my cart with the rest of the groceries.

Yes, I know, I'm dreaming. This is Pennsylvania, after all.

So instead I embark today on a new mission: I'd like to suggest a new state slogan:

"Welcome to Pennsylvania, world's worst weather, 365 days a year."

Granted, I'm picking the wrong day to do this. It's going to be gorgeous today, with lots of sun and highs in the mid-70s. Don't get too excited. The rain is coming back, just in time to drench our Saturday.

Yes, it's been a wet, miserable spring. It's enough to drive a man to drink. Which means, of course, that he has to drive to a state store first.

Swell. Or should that be swill?
Categories: Pennsylvania

A big asterisk on the Sixers' future

Heron's Nest - Fri, 2016-05-20 05:54
I'm happy for the Sixers. I really am.

The ping-pong balls and the basketball gods smiled on them this week, giving them the No. 1 pick in the NBA Draft.

A lot of people are saying this is evidence that "The Process," former GM Sam Hinkie's much-ballyhooed method of getting bad enough to garner all those high picks, was the right way to go.

I'm not so sure.

The whole thing leaves a bad taste in my mouth.

Yes, I know that's the way the NBA is constructed, that it's really the only way to get back among the league's elite.

That doesn't mean I have to like it.

I don't.

I lost my interest in the Sixers over the last three years.

What they did is referred to as "tanking," losing on purpose for the sole purpose of increasing their odds of getting the top draft pick.

It was not a lot of fun to watch.

You almost have to feel sorry for Hinkie, the man who conceived this plan, only to be axed once the NBA bosses put pressure on the Sixers' owners to end the charade.

They promptly brought in the Colangelo family to run things, and the writing was on the wall for Hinkie.

Now the biggest question the Sixers face is whether to take LSU star Ben Simmons, or Duke's Brandon Ingram with that top pick.

Oh, and one other thing, just in case they ever win something.

Should their accomplishment be complete with an asterisk?
Categories: Pennsylvania

The Daily Numbers for Friday, May 20

Heron's Nest - Fri, 2016-05-20 03:58
The Daily Numbers: $3 million dollar deficit in the Interboro School District.

20-plus jobs on chopping block.

3.2 percent tax hike planned.

2.3 million dollars in savings projected.

15, age of teen charged as adult in a Chester home invasion.

16, age of missing teen Breanna Watson, who has been reunited with her family.

1,700 students who picked up diplomas from Delaware County Community College yesterday.

3 young girls all under the age of 10 who police say were sexually abused by a Chester County man.

3 people involved in an attack on a gay couple on a Philly street who are now being sued.

84, age of veteran CBS newsman and longtime ‘60 Minutes’ correspondent Morley Safer, who died yesterday, just a week after retiring.

61-year career in the news business.

2 of 3 Americans who say they would have trouble paying for an unexpected $1,000 expense.

7-5 win for Springfield over Haverford in boys lacrosse.

Call me a Phanatic: A look at the ups and downs of being a Philadelphia sports fan.

The Phils get back at it tonight, kicking off a 3-game homestand with the lowly Braves. Can you say sweep?

I Don’t Get It: They found another gun inside a school in Delco. I don’t get it.

Today’s Upper: Kudos to all the grads from Delaware County Community College who picked up diplomas yesterday.

Quote Box: “No one wants to be in this position of eliminating any staff members.”

- Interboro Schools Superintendent Bernadette Reiley
Categories: Pennsylvania

Missing Delco Teen Has Been Located: Police

Ardmore-Merion-Wynnewood Patch - Thu, 2016-05-19 17:36
A Delaware County teen missing since Saturday has been located and is home safe with her family, police say.
Categories: Lower Merion

LMSD's final budget proposal presented; gender expansive and transgender policy approved

Main Line Times - Thu, 2016-05-19 16:36
Ardmore >> Lower Merion school officials this week presented the district’s final 2016-17 budget that will be voted on by the school board June 13. The final budget calls for a 4.4 percent tax hike in order to close an $8.8 million deficit.
Categories: Lower Merion

Check Out These Home Foreclosures Around Ardmore

Ardmore-Merion-Wynnewood Patch - Thu, 2016-05-19 16:03
Find your dream home on a dime - or find a great rental property - with these local listings in the Ardmore area.
Categories: Lower Merion

Missing Delco Teen Has Been Located: Police

Ardmore-Merion-Wynnewood Patch - Thu, 2016-05-19 13:51
A Delaware County teen missing since Saturday has been located and is home safe with her family, police say.
Categories: Lower Merion

Merion Mercy Students Named 'Distinguished Scholars'

Ardmore-Merion-Wynnewood Patch - Thu, 2016-05-19 12:37
They will be honored at an upcoming ceremony in Philadelphia. Congratulations!
Categories: Lower Merion