Garden Diary - February 2011

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Friday, 18 February 2011
A Visit to Mutschler's Florist

We're all getting cabin fever. Granted, it is February. Even the second half of February. The days are noticeably longer. Brighter too. And the last couple of days have been milder, which is melting the snow. But the landscape is still depressingly white. So when Joan said that she and Pat were going to join Sue who was suggesting a trip to Mutschler's Florist in Birdsboro, Pennsylvania it mattered not one whit that I had no idea what Mutschler's might be noted for or even where Birdsboro might be found. I was ready to to make a fourth for the outing.

Birdsboro is not especially nearby to where any of us live. In fact, it is over an hour away. No matter. Sue is familiar with the generally area. Pat had the front passenger seat so she was appointed navigator. Joan had printed directions. And me? I was a passenger. From the time we all got seated in Sue's van and exited Joan's driveway I don't think there was a moment's silence. With similar interests and different experiences there's just so much to talk about that we never shut up. The time passed as quickly as the miles. And then, there we were.

From the parking lot, especially on a gray February day, the greenhouse looks rather plain and utilitarian.
That's a good disguise. Once you wend your way through the rooms of this 200 year old farmhouse
it is a jungle at which you arrive. Curving paths leading through masses of plants. They're everywhere -
big and small, hanging from the rafters, perched on pedestals, on shelves, on the floor.

A griffin overlooks a speckle leaved anglewing cane stem begonia.

Sue, Joan, and Pat gather to exclaim about the extravagance of plants: there are bonsai and succulents,

numerous pots of orchids in colorful bloom.

Pedestals are made of utilitarian clay pipes or an inverted flower pot
perched on a concrete block, topped with a concrete stepping stone.


Cricket is a new arrival. Recently adopted from an animal shelter she has settled in quite happily.
She adores greeting visitors and students taking classes at Mutschler's. Her squeaky voiced comments
let you know where she is (under foot, often enough) and that she's ready to welcome affectionate pats.

Working our way from the entry to the jungle room is no simple matter. Downstairs, upstairs, it is
crammed with specialty flower pots, such as the shelves dedicated to bonsai. There are others,
perforated and glazed, for orchids. A discrete set of shelves is stocked with fertilizers and soils.

Interesting antiques and ornamental objects in every corner, such as this
mirror-framed mirror at the head of the stairs. The front stairs that is,
not the spiraling back staircase that's more of a display case.

The window-lined sunroom qua passageway is home to orchids, insectivorous plants, bits and bobs.

A wonderful circular window lets in light for a delicate cymbidium orchid displayed near a fountain.

Once Bob Mutschler learned we'd not been here before he at once took us through the house,
giving details of its history as a stop on the underground railroad, places where he obtains some
of the decorative material, about the classes he offers, and acting more as a genial host among friends.

It is finally the end of our visit. Each of us has found something special. Sue was taken with this crested
succulent. But could not quite make out its named. Not a problem. Elsie said, "Bob wrote it. He's the one
who can read it for you." And so he did. Having worked up an appetite it is time to find some lunch. After all,
now we've found Birdsboro and Mutchler's, what's a little lunch. A fun outing, greatly enjoyed by all.

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