Garden Diary - June 2023

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Designed For Nature
Saturday, 17 June 2022

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 Susan Talia Delone and Lawrence Kennedy

"Innisfree - and I shall have some peace there, for peace comes dropping free . . ."
William Butler Yeats

In Millbrook, New York there is a garden in the style of a Chinese cup garden, named Innisfree.

The concept invites visitors to stroll from one garden vignette to the next,
slowly relaxing in the enjoyment of one garden scene and then another.

The spirit of this poem inspired the homeowners and can be seen and felt on this remarkable property. Over the past 20 years, they have transformed a neglected three acres with a mid 19th century home into a beautiful garden and natural habitat for wildlife. As you enter the property you are crossing Watson Creek, the last wild trout stream in Bucks County. Trout Unlimited has planted small shade bushes along the banks to reduce invasive canary reed grass. Being on a slope, management of the water that runs down to the creek has been integrated into the garden plan. On the left is a flood meadow designed by Larry Weaner and filled with native plants with "wet feet" that absorb water and provide habitat and host plants for many pollinators. There are native plant gardens meandering along the creek, a spring fed pond, a spring house with a stream flowing from it, upland gardens, and some flower and herb borders. There is also a large fenced-in vegetable garden and a deer fence around the property to protect the plantings. The gardens host native turtles, some mallards, an occasional wood duck and heron, as well as frogs, butterflies and other pollinators. There are two stone circles, one for the turtles and one for children and adults who like to sit close to the ground. Most recently a pool area has been added with boulders and native plants. The homeowners use organic farming methods, grow vegetables and flowers, and seek to cultivate harmonious interaction between plants, animals and humans who enjoy the grounds.

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

The pair of large gates are open. We walk gingerly on the solid plates that make
it easy (and safe!) to cross the massive cattle guard that crosses Watson Creek.

As we enter the garden a map is handed to us. Very helpful -
the large property has much to explore and we can visit most.

There's water as soon as we enter. Cross on a sturdy single stone bridge
across a creek. Admire a pond with spouting aerator. Pass a spring house

close to the well maintained 19th century house itself, where a pair of steps
and stone wall delineate a pleasant seating area, ideal for morning coffee

to be enjoyed at a charming wrought iron bistro set just right for two.

There are other places that invite one to linger, relax, enjoy. For example
this sunbrella shading a white cast iron table and settee. Tea for two . . .

And off the corner of that pleasant blue building, an easy stroll
away from the main house, there is an airy rain chain descending
from the roof's corner, to guide falling water into a copper bowl.

Bird house are placed here and there. Most are plain, simple wood
to weather into inconspicuousness. This one is more decorative.

There is a meditation garden on the other side of the blue bungalow. Very
basic, simply a rectangle with a low stone wall on the three sides framed

by the linear stems of bamboo which leave it open to the sky above.

As well as the major planting of the meadow, there are native plants tucked in
here and there. Most are easy to overlook when out of bloom. Things change

when the natives burst into flower, like this butterfly weed, Asclepias tuberosa. Bees,
butterflies, and other pollinators will also take notice, as intended by the homeowners.

There is much to see and enjoy: plum trees setting fruit. A cherry tree netted against the birds. Chickens have their own Casa de Cluckers. Good thing we had a map. But I'm still not sure we saw everything.

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