Wake up Chester County. The ugliness is encroaching on the beauty of Chester County. Time to curb the developers. This isn’t planning, it’s greed. Who benefits?
I said in a prior post that someone asked me what it was that made me want to save the graves in the ruins of the Ebenezer AME on Bacton Hill Road in East Whiteland or what old timers in East Whiteland like to call “that old black church”. What first moved me was the grave you see above of Private Joshua Johnson(1846-1916) who was a member of Company K of the 45th of the United States Colored Troops in the Civil War.
Today is Memorial Day so I thought I would take the time to recognize Private Joshua Johnson and the other Civil War Colored Troop Soldier buried in this graveyard OWNED and ABANDONED by the A.M.E. Church. The head of the East Whiteland Historical Society told me recently that there is yet another soldier in this graveyard. (And did you know there is another abandoned graveyard of unknown denomination behind Queen Appliance in Frazer? That is more of an aside, just pointing its existence out.)
Anyway, I still can’t believe that the A.M.E. Church doesn’t give a damn about the Ebenezer A.M.E. but after YEARS of trying to get them to pay attention and discovering all of the OTHER people also ignored in years gone by, I pretty much think they don’t care about the familial history of their members or enough about the history of their churches. That makes me really sad. It also makes me wonder if I am just the wrong race and religion to be asking them about this? And if THAT is true (as has been implied by people I have spoken with) wow what a sorry state of affairs.
The A.M.E. Church is celebrating a remarkable milestone this summer in Philadelphia, their bicentennial. One would THINK or HOPE or WISH they would give a damn about the dead in the decrepit and disgraceful graveyard at Chester County’s Ebenezer A.M.E. on Bacton Hill Road in Frazer, Pa but alas, they don’t. They want to talk about their history and the struggles of their people but if they truly valued the contributions and suffering of their membership the past 200 years they would respect their dead and at least regularly tidy up this graveyard, right?
The following article appeared recently in an out of state newspaper:
Posted: Friday, May 20, 2016 3:01 am
By ANGELIQUE WALKER-SMITH
“Oh freedom, oh freedom, oh freedom over me. And before I’d be a slave I’ll be buried in my grave. And go home to my Lord and be free.”
This post-Civil War African-American freedom song, often associated with the 20th century Civil Rights Movement in the United States, provides a helpful historical lens for understanding why elections have been important to African-American churches. For these churches, voting and other methods of engaging their public voices have been important in their quest in obtaining freedom from social and legal racism in the U.S., while relying on the biblical promise of a transcendent freedom in the afterlife.
Albert Raboteau at Princeton University points out the following concerning religious formation of African-American churches: “These Christians appropriated Christianity on their own terms despite what they were told or not told by their slave holders and U.S. law. African slaves experienced dissonance between their dignified African identities and the disempowering and undignified messaging of White colonizers and missionaries.”
This kind of social marginalization and oppression of people of African descent, and the acceptance of the biblical narrative of struggle, deliverance, hope and faith, have provoked and encouraged the faith of people of African descent. Such faith has informed their vision and mission to fight for a dignified and equitable quality of life as evidence of earthly freedom.
OK so maybe I am being terribly politically incorrect,but does anyone else see the pure hypocracy of a religious organization that can write things like the above and preach about the above and they can’t care for their dead in a relatively small old graveyard of land they own and probably pay no taxes on??
It’s Memorial Day and at a bare minimum they should respect those soldiers more!
So A.M.E. Church, I double dog dare you. Prove me and others wrong – take care of your dead in this graveyard. Surely if you can foot the bill for a Bicentennial Convention and celebration you can afford to clean up one small and very historic graveyard?
I did not have a really big garden before moving to Chester County. I had decent sized gardens over the years, but mostly small gardens.
You can create a lot of beauty in a small space garden, you just have to use your imagination. Pots play a larger part, sometime pots on walls and fences. And you can put almost anything in a pot.
My great aunts had a house in South Philadelphia that was a big row house – and basically the entire rear “garden” was concrete. And every spring / summer/ fall it was loaded with flowers and herbs and tomato plants…and even grape vines! And a lot of what things were planted in were actually old pickle barrels and containers. But it worked!
And one of my grandmothers who lived in another area of the city (North Philadelphia, actually and they call part of where my father grew up “Brewerytown” but all the factories weren’t breweries) near the factory my one grandfather owned with his brothers had an amazing garden. It actually had a great deep garden that was narrow but long. I remember as a little girl being out back there and looking over low fences at the neighbors’ gardens too. Gardens like that can be super cool!
When my sister and I were little and my parents lived in Society Hill, we had a wonderful city garden. In retrospect, it was probably smaller than I remember it (I was 11 when we moved to the Main Line), but it was along one side of the house and behind the house. My father had to excavate the privy pit from the early 19th century to plant it.
My first garden was carefully laid out. I remember two trees, and one flowered but I am not sure of what they were (maybe a Magnolia, but too long ago). There was a sand laid brick patio in the back and the bricks were old. In those days when houses were being torn down in Society Hill you could get just about anything out of the demolition sites, most times for free: brick, stone, windows, shutters, doors, hardware, trim, flooring, etc. we even ended up with an antique doll house as a result.
Around the patio in an almost circular fashion were planting beds. Shrubs, my first rose (hybrid tea John F. Kennedy had recently been introduced), herbs, flowers. Along the side of the house was another side garden and a brick path leading to a side door with more shade loving plants like rhododendron and azaleas.
The entire garden was walled in. Neighbors houses on either side, and high city garden walls where houses weren’t. There were also pots filled with annuals. I wish I had more photos of that garden, but few survived. The one photo I am about to post is of the garden a year or so ago off a realtor page when the house was most recently for sale. Today, the side yard part of the garden and other parts no longer exist because of additions subsequent owners added. But you still see part of my late father’s and grandfather’s handiwork and that is pretty cool.
My parents then had larger gardens with suburban homes, and with two I was mostly conscripted slave labor, and the final one I planted easily 80% of it.
My parents final suburban garden was around their late 19th / early 20th century clapboard house. There I recreated essentially a period garden and for the most part plants you would have found when the house was built. It felt a little bit like Sissinghurst’s white garden because my mother the benevolent dictator had a thing about essentially all white gardens. I was able to work in some very pale pink and yellow antique garden roses everytime they went on vacation or traveled, but that was about it for color other than white.
But I still loved that garden. It was marvelous I thought. I had over 50 different rose cultivars. And wonderful white hydrangeas, and Japanese maples, and a giant puffy flowering Kwanzan cherry tree in the front, and boxwood and azaleas and hollies and Itea. Piers Japonica and host as as well. Herbs in beds and in pots and a rose arch that also had the white clematis Henryii along with the Meilland rose “Eden Climber” that I had bought from Witerthur when they used to sell plants. I wish I had more photos of that garden, it was cool.
Unfortunately, the people who bought my parents’ last suburban house tore it all out. Even the Kwanzan Cherry Tree. I wish I could remember the name of the landscape company that did it. I still think they probably made a fortune re-selling the plants. Nothing was distressed or over grown and so much was specimen planting. The company had “new” in the name. Their design was uninspired and somewhat dumb for a clapboard house with original clapboards. We never planted right up to the house because it was clapboard (wood). We always kept air circulation.
After that garden I had two much smaller gardens before Chester County. They were small like little city gardens. But you got creative and you could plant all sort of things. I utilized a lot of pots, but I still had my favorite garden elements, even Japanese maples I grew from seedlings. I hope those trees still survive, they were lovely.
Smaller gardens can pack just as big a punch as a big garden. And almost anything you can plant in the ground you can plant in a pot.
I will admit every garden I have had I have layered. For season, for bloom time, for effect. I like a lushness of plantings, not the constipated shrubbing I see that has become trendy and makes everything look like you are living in a Toll Brothers development. I don’t want predictable little plant soldiers all lined up in a row, I want a riot of plants; sensory overload.
And you can do that in small spaces. With my current garden, it’s large, but I still maintain the intimacy of smaller gardens in different corners of it.
Design your garden so you see something new every time you step out into it, large or small. And take the time to figure out what inspires you for your garden space. Your garden, like your home, is your sanctuary, so make it count.
Thanks for stopping by on another rainy Saturday. I think if it doesn’t stop raining soon, I will be spending the rest of the summer weeding…..
Supposedly the developer has an “obligation” to restore the old historic structure, as I presume that was part of the application and conditions of approval, right? But does the developer have to restore the actual Linden Hall?
I still assert no, because there is nothing in East Whiteland that would make the developer do the restoration, you only have their word. And well, can it be said developers can promise a lot of things at times when they are trying to get projects approved?
All I see is demolition by neglect, don’t you? They haven’t even mothballed the historic structure in an effort to preserve it during construction of the butt ugly townhouses. And quite frankly I am still not sure that the foundations on one side are properly filled in. There is only so long that foundation walls that are a couple of centuries old are going to survive if they are just dug out around and exposed without anything to ensure their survival.
That historic structure which should have been protected years ago is totally at risk. The property is only seen by developers as the money the plastic (and fairly expensive) townhouses will generate. To a municipality, new development = some ratables but that is never as much as you think it will be and a one off, correct?
What do residents get out of the whole proposition? In my opinion, not much.
None of us move to Chester County for plastic mushroom Tyvek wrapped housing, we move for the beauty , history, and the open space. The farmland, a better way of life. But how is our life better if acre by acre Chester County is been gobbled up by developments?
Has anyone seen how close that one development is to St. Peter’s in the Great Valley? Does anyone care?
Developers don’t care about what makes life special to those of us who live here, if they cared about cornfields and old houses and forests and fields they wouldn’t buy so many and plow them under for plastic mushroom Tyvek wrapped townhouses and McMansions.
And today it was downright dangerous because there were so many frustrated drivers who were just throwing themselves into reverse and doing U-turns in the oncoming lanes of traffic to escape the traffic. Headed west on Route 30 (Lancaster Ave.) you can’t make a left turn onto 352 at this point. That also makes for a lot of confusion and great inconvenience to motorists.
It is bad enough that most of this new development looks cheap and all crammed in, but what’s even worse is everyone has to put up with the pain of the development occurring.
And what will all this development that falls within the Great Valley School District do? How long before the school district is completely over crowded? Does the school district even have any contingency plans or projections for this? Because it’s not like all this development is for empty-nesters.
I had to go through this intersection of Route 352 and 30 twice today. Each time I spend a minimum of 35 minutes trying to just get through a very short distance. As residents of Chester County, our time is worth something. It would behoove East Whiteland to not only sit on the developer about the restoration of Linden Hall actually occurring instead of just the abuse to the structure, but actually sitting on them so people can get through the darn intersection and that stretch of road.
Linden Hall just sits there and looks more sad by the day. Traffic just gets worse by the day.
When you are working in your garden, what inspires you? Who inspires you?
A garden is a labor of love, an artistic expression. To me, my garden is like a living artist’s palette. And that is why I think sometimes I get twitchy about my garden. It’s my creativity and sweat equity. Ideas that begin in my head, take shape out of the earth from my hands.
I love to inspire but I do not wish to see my garden recreated everywhere necessarily.
Inspiration is very different from copying.
No one designed my garden for me. I used no landscape computer program. I took what I have loved in every garden I have ever had and inspiration from garden writers I admire from Gertrude Jekyll to Rosemary Verey to Penelope Hobhouse to Suzy Bales to Chester County’s David L. Culp. With my current garden the last two garden writers have been particularly influential.
David Culp’s The Layered Garden is not only visually a thing of beauty but so informative as well. The whole concept of a layered garden appeals to me because a layered garden has many different elements. It’s not just one dimensional, it’s multi dimensional. It’s a feast for the eyes and senses.
Then there are the books by Suzy Bales. I made Mrs. Bales acquaintance via email a few years ago after reading her book Suzy Bales’ Down to Earth Gardener: Let Nature Guide You to Success in Your Garden. Again, a visually beautiful gardening book, but more than that. It is loaded with practical advice.
When I decided on a whim to write Mrs. Bales and tell her how much I loved her book and how she was inspiring me, to my delight she wrote me back. We corresponded here and there and she sent me autographed copies of her other books. I treasure them. Her other book I refer to often is The Garden in Winter: Plant for Beauty and Interest in the Quiet Season.
I was thinking about Mrs. Bales’ books again as I was preparing to write this post and quite sadly I discovered she passed away this March from cancer. What a loss. She was so kind to me every time I wrote to her about gardening. You can find an archive of some of her gardening articles on Huffington Post. What a nice lady and an amazing gardener. And so generous with her time and knowledge.
So my point? Don’t copy someone else’s garden or think some landscape computer program is all you need to have someone else plant your garden. Being inspired is not copying what someone else does including acquiring all of the cultivars they have. Being inspired means crafting your own vision. Getting your hands dirty learning from trial and error.
This is part of the fun of doing your own garden– you can try your ideas out and it’s much more cool (at least to me) than walking around after some random landscaper has put their commercial version of your vision to work. It is just more satisfying.
Anyone can garden. Truly. Buy yourself some basic gardening books so you learn techniques. Join an online gardening group. I joined my first online gardening board easily 2o plus years ago. It was the rose gardeners board on AOL. I made friends on that board from across the country that I still am connected to today. I even started a gardening group on Facebook of my own that has over 500 gardeners in it. We share photos, ask each other questions, inspire each other.
Gardening is truly individualistic. I literally stand outside (when I probably should be weeding) and day dream about what I would like to see. Gardening writers like Suzy Bales and David Culp really help my envisioning because of their practical advice and beautiful gardens which leap off the pages of their books. I don’t want their exact garden in my garden, they inspire me to be creative on my own. I figure if they can do it, I can do it.
Occasionally I have help if something is say too big for me to handle planting on my own. I also don’t do lawns, I kill lawns. I have an experienced arborist. So I do have help, although I do most of my gardening myself. I have learned to tell people I am employing to help me what I want specifically, that way everyone is happy especially me since it’s my garden. And the people who occasionally help me know I am a benevolent dictator who gets her hands dirty and her face smudged with dirt.
Bit by bit my garden is coming to life on all four sides of our home. It is trial and error. Some plants don’t make it so I either try them again, or try new ones. And I am definitely layering. For size , smell, type, bloom cycle, season, colors. It’s a crazy quilt of my own design. Inspired by other gardens and gardeners, but uniquely my own. I don’t pretend to know everything or every proper Latin name. I plant what I like. Sometimes I have researched the plants and a lot of times they are impulse buys because I like the way they look and can envision them in my garden.
So think about it: what inspires you in your garden? Let me know!
This azalea is gorgeous! I purchased it last year from Applied Climatology in the West Chester Growers Market.
I am having a love affair with my garden again. We were having a love hate relationship the past two weeks because of the weeds that seem to grow by the hour and then by the minute because of all the rain.
The spring bulbs are done, the azaleas are blooming, the viburnum are starting to pop, and the roses are all budded out for their first bloom cycle.
The hostas have popped up everywhere and the ferns are luscious this year. I did lose some things with the weird weather we had over the winter including some echinacea that I thought were bulletproof.
The hydrangea are struggling this year a bit. They were fine until that last little cold snap that fried their new green buds just emerging from their winter’s sleep.
Haven’t seen a lot of the annuals I like other than herbs, so there will be less of those in the garden unless some have self seeded. The lilies of the valley my neighbors gave me are gorgeous and very happy. They are growing with Creeping Jenny under a tree.
New for this year I have decided to go after a slope that slopes down to the woods on one side of our property. It has nice light and I separated it into sections. One section closer to the house has been planted with lilacs. I envision a beautiful hill of blooms and lilacs perfuming the air in a few years.
Next to that I will be planting some more azaleas and hydrangeas and I’m not sure what else. On the other side of that is my even bigger experiment. I have planted raspberry and gooseberry and thornless blackberry bushes. I have Elderberry that is going crazy along with one surviving currant plant on the other side of the garden, so in a few years I will either be making a lot of jam or the birds will be really, really happy.
My garden has now grown enough that the people who are professionals in the gardening industry like to come see my garden. Some are growers from whom I have bought beautiful plants, others are looking for inspiration for gardens they are helping their customers design. It’s the being a whole inspiration thing that I am torn about.
I have always designed my gardens to suit me and be unlike any other that I see out there. So I really am torn as to how much of an inspiration I want my actual garden to be as far as the design goes. I don’t know that I want to see my garden multiplied and versions of it growing on different properties. After all it’s all my sweat equity and labor that has gone into my garden.
I’ve bought all my plants , I’ve planted them all myself, I’ve learned from trial and error what works and what doesn’t work. So while imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, do I really want to see my garden style multiply?
Don’t misunderstand me, I love helping other gardeners. But I want to inspire people to seek their own creativity, not copy mine. Gardeners by nature are generous people. I am just torn on this issue because it’s my sweet equity, and it’s not like a landscape architect is saying to me that they love my garden and they will give me even credit recognition, they just want to see what I have done.
I have been through this before with other gardens and while I want to share sometimes it just bothers me that someone else will copy what I did and take the credit and not give credit where it’s due. It’s not even about money or a shared commission, it’s about saying hey I didn’t dream this up but someone I know did.
Anyway just some random thoughts on another rainy day.