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Gardens are often at their finest, I sometimes think, as summer shifts over to fall. Trees aquire a golden, russet hue as the green of chlorophyll fades away. Asters and goldenrod flower in profusion among the madow grasses. Not yet Indian summer as frost has not yet laid an icy hand on the landscape. Clear skies, sunny days, and a delightful time to visit a garden. Which is just what the Tohickon Garden Club is doing today, making a visit to Northview, the garden of Jenny Rose carey in Ambler, Pennsylvania.
Some background. The house dates back to 1887, when it was built on a 100 acre model farm. A few trees (especially a magnificent Japanese maple on the front lawn) date back to that time. Jenny Rose and her husband purchased the house and not quite 5 acres in 1997. A few years later she began to garden, and has not yet stopped. There are mass plantings of hydrangeas, specimens of uncommon trees and shrubs, perennials and bulbs and amusing decorative, whimsical touches here and there. Jenny Rose says there are 112 seats around the property, but I cannot image she ever makes much use of them. Come, let's go for a stroll around Northview.
One of the first things I noticed is that Jenny Rose makes collections. I have one fancifully painted watering can that my daughter embellished for me. At Northview there's a tree stump with a circular slate tabletop supporting a myriad of watering cans.
We're offered some refreshments before being welcomed into a lecture room. No disposable cups here. Rather a sweep of china cups and saucers, spoons in graceful arcs, hot coffee and hot water with an assortment of tea bags from which to choose. Tea parties seem to be a fixture at Northview.
A gigantic teapot becomes a water feature, fountaining into a similarly large teacup.
There's the little tea party on a tree stup out in the garden, childsized plates and cups, and acorns for a meal.
On the "when life gives you lemons, make lemonade" way of looking at things, Jenny Rose makes good use of trees that have come down either intentionally on purpose or when a storm comes roaring through. Near the driveway there's a "Crescendo" of tree stumps left by their arborist. Though to me it looks more like "Woodhenge." What do you think?
This is Northview's stumpery. That's the special name for twisted gnarly tree roots used to create a raised bed that's a wonderful site for growing ferns. Prince Charles has one at Highgrove. And the Morris Arboretum has a stumpery too.
Something different, not a stumpery. Tree stumps and branches have been piled up and earth-covered. Not simply out of sight, out of mind, this is a deliberate technique called hugelkultur, a method of creating raised beds from logs, branches, twigs, leaves, and topsoil.
Jenny Rose knows every inch of Northview. She happily told us of its history, the history of the plants, when each garden was create, from the Herb garden in 2000 to the Red Bud Allee in 2012.
Gardens, no matter how well tended, do grow weeds. At 4.5 acres Northview is too large to run off to the compost heap every time you have a handful. Well thought out, Jenny Rose has galvanized tubs here and there, tucked out of the way and carefully label as to their intended use. Holes drilled in the bottom keep them from becoming a stinking, slimy mess when it rains.
Not just a tool shed. This is Rose Cottage.
It is indeed a place for garden tools.
There's also a spacious desk with a comfortable chair, and a view out over the garden.
On the ledge above the multiple windows are jars of seeds. Where from?
Why of course, these are seeds collected here at Northview. Seed heads snipped as they ripen, thrust head down into paper bags to release their bounty and be collected for sowing, and shared with other gardeners.
Joan found the veranda outside Rose Cottage to be altogether too inviting.
We went off to try and catch up with the group who had far outpaced us - happens when you pause for photographs. We came across some more collections: a set of blue glazed sphere in decreasing sizes on a stone wall and another set of delicately patterned blue filigreed sphere like marvellous eggs about to hatch.
The tree house ladder, rather steep, leads up to more of a viewing platform than a proper tree house with roof and walls. No matter. It's high enough for a good view over the garden
and catch a glimpse of a garden club members about to disappear around a corner on the path below.
Another vignette or two that came home with my memories . . . .
Autumn daffodil, Sternbergia lutea, glowing golden cups in the sunny dry garden.
A fence, every board with a stenciled red rose, tall spikes of amaranthus waving beyond it.
And a happy saying, one that's true for every gardener.
Happiness is where you plant it.
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