Garden Diary - September 2011

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Saturday, 10 September 2011
Garden Conservancy Open Days: Tallquapie

Such a deal, just $5 per garden to visit splendid private gardens that would otherwise be no trespassing / keep out kind of places. So onwards, to the third Garden Conservancy Open Days garden I can shoehorn into my afternoon.

The property is named Tallquapie, named after the Lenni Lenape who, back on October 29, 1701 along with Tollquapie and three others, sold the land along the east side of the north branch of the Rariton River, along Machcopoiken's land, northwest to the mountains above Pechpeck and east along the mountains to the Blew Hills.

More recently a farmer's fields, the 5 acre site has streams on three sides with concomitant wetlands restrictions and did not appeal to the majority of potential buyers, who found it undesirable. With a better eye to the potential of the allowable building area of the property, in 1997 the current owners and their architect created an award-wining house that speaks to both the Arts and Craft movement and the Adirondack style "camp."

A new house can often look as though it fell from the sky, plop, into a raw post-construction ravaged site. The challenge sent the distaff member of the couple back to school to study landscape design. Three years after the house was built she began work on creating a garden. Inspired by native plants and sustainable gardening, the result is a pleasing landscape, coherent and integrated with the house that requires minimal maintenance.

To quote her description: "As you drive through a meadow you are welcomed by a deer-resistant entry garden and an alternative lawn. My passion for native plants required one acre of fence that protects a moonlight garden, a rockery, a meditation garden, and a native hedgerow for birds. Through my education in landscape design, the garden has jumped the fence and integrated into the existing wetlands and woods that surround us."

Today's visitors are handed a map and guided through the deer garden

and across the front of the house. Cedar shingles, rounded river rock
facade for foundation and the expressive, substantially pillared porch

and past a rustic bench made of cedar poles. It reminds me of the gazebos and arbors at
Mohonk Mountain House in New Paltz, New York. Aha! Now through a rustic arbor

still following the designated path outside the perimeter deer fence, past a bridge over a small stream


and past the paddock where Hugo and Erica reside. A brief, bored glance. Grazing is more interesting.

Jens Jensen council ring it's not, but the boulders-as-seats and fire pit have a similar spirit of place.

At last - through another rustic garden structure, arbor and gate onto a lawn and into the fenced acre/

A narrow grassy path to the right leads me into the meditation garden. Secluded, bounded by shrubbery
it does indeed have a peaceful ambience. I gaze at the three boulders, each with their stack of rocks.


There's yet another gate, beyond the meditation garden and further off
to the right. But we're asked, "Please, no entry." So I step, carefully,
through the rockery and reach the patio and its more structured space.

Along the side of the house there's a fine clump of Lobelia siphilitica

and somewhere on my peregrinations around Tallquapie I saw this
vigorous stand of pink turtlehead, Chelone obliqua with small but
determined bumblebees forcing their way into the flowers after nectar.

It's clear that no one has been seated here, not for a long time.
With house and garden and goats, is that a surprise? Hardly.

As well as Tallquapie I've been to Pickle Farm, and Hay Honey Farm. Three gardens, each quite different from the others. Another excellent outing on the Garden Conservancy's Open Days program tours of exceptional private gardens.

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