Garden Diary - June 2023

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Designed For Nature
Saturday, 17 June 2023

There is a garden tour today, presenting five local residential gardens in transition to the use of native plants and creative water management. Organized and presented by The Woman's National Farm & Garden Association, Bucks County Branch, in partnership with Bowman's Hill Wildflower Preserve. Rain or shine, 10:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. Modestly priced tickets are $10.00 in advance, $15.00 on the day of the event. Be inspired, we are told, to see what can be done to bring nature back into your own private oasis.

Generously provided with a gratis media pass, a friend and I decide to see if we can visit all five gardens Paul plots out the most efficient circuit for the five gardens. And we're off!

Designed for Nature: Garden of Jeff and Mary Jo Buckwalter

A Japanese Aesthetic Transitions to Native Woodland

A tree lover and a birder have created an arboretum that supports their love of nature. In 1985, this couple bought a home on an undeveloped lot. Jeff's love of trees extended into

a passion for bonsai

(bonsai in an Oregon garden)

and Japanese gardening techniques.

(Japanese garden style: two step waterfall, in an Oregon garden.)

The bones of the original garden plan offer paths that reveal a pond, waterfall,

swimming pool,

small open lawn carefully sculpted with boulders
and magnificent tree specimens, both native and Asian.

In 2014, at the urging of his sister who was active in the Virginia Native Plant Society, Jeff became involved with Bowman's Hill Wildflower Preserve and his interests turned to native plants. Since that time, the bonsai trees have been rehomed and native plants that are largely indigenous to the property have been nurtured and propagated. Replacing a number of non-natives including burning bush, Japanese painted ferns and hostas with carefully selected native ferns and herbaceous natives continues to be a gardening priority.

Mature trees including tulip tree, fringe tree, sourwood, sweet bay magnolia, oaks, hornbeams and serviceberry, along with spicebush, blackhaw viburnum and false Solomon's seal thrive in this woodland.

Water management has been integrated to developing this garden. Downhill of a ridge, water would pour onto the property during a heavy rain.

To manage this, curtain drains were put in on two sides of the property and pipes direct water flow into a 3,000 gallon cistern located under the permeable paver driveway. There are several trenches throughout the property channeling water.

While a fence keeps out the deer, a variety of birds, squirrels, raccoons
and fox enjoy the bounty of this nature preserve.

text courtesy of The Woman's National Farm & Garden Association Bucks Co. Branch
in partnership with Bowman's Hill Wild Flower Preserve

There are still obvious remainders of the garden's previous Japanese influence.

Stones, a large stone as step, the block walkway adjacent to an open porch
that is very reminiscent of an engawa, the roofed but open transition space
which provides transition from inside to the outdoors of a Japanese dwelling.

An ancient Japanese maple, its sinuous trunks a reminder of time in place.

A traditional technique from Japan. Named cloud pruning for its layered puffs of growth.

A stone, wrapped with copper wire and used to weigh down and shape a branch's growth.

A small, weathered statue of Buddha, smiling and content in his placement in this garden.

There are other, less "classical" ornamental objects, such as a rabbit among the ferns.

Or a tall arrangement with a copper flower. Amazing how rebar may be used.

I was amused by this sundial, a bird pulling on a worm which serves as the gnomen.

Birds make their presence known, their chirps and calls a background for the visitors.
But even a passionate birder would not be thrilled by a woodpecker's intense activity.

Stone, as has been shown, is an important aspect of this garden. Stones both large
and small, naturally irregular and precisely cut. And serving as a foil for green plants.

There is a sign on the lawn, indicating that it is a chemical-free area of turf.
Another visitor did point out that there was a deposit, from the family dog.

Plants exotic, and native. Some deliberately plants. Others arrive on their own. Here,
Rhus toxidendron, aka poison ivy. Good berries for birds, good fall color. But
Don't Touch!

We've been here for an hour. It passed all too quickly. Four more gardens . . . Time to go.

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