linden hall and the developer(s)

Nightmare traffic. Pretty much daily.  
Does anyone see any actual restoration of Linden Hall? 

NOPE.

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. 

 
Traffic is absolutely ridiculous on Route 30 anywhere near Route 352 and Linden Hall. 

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.

  

in the garden, what inspires you?

 

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!

  

magnifica azalea is magnificent indeed

 

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.

the mystery of bryn coed….what is going on?

bryn coed noticeWell what is going on at Bryn Coed? That giant land parcel mostly in West Vincent Township? Twice the size of what was cobbled together to form Chesterbrook in Tredyffrin Township?

I realize I am opening up Pandora’s box because I am supposed to be she who is not supposed to ask questions about anything in West Vincent (according to some) but someone sent me the above photo. Bryn Coed Lane IS Bryn Coed, right?

It came with a message about people recently seeing surveyors out there and speculation as to whether the surveyors were there because of a developer, the Deitrich family, a conservation group or any combination of the above? And rumors in the past of family meetings with boatloads of attorneys over this which would be completely normal if true since it is a giant property right?

This property has over 20 tenant properties correct? So if they are going in now to deal with lead pipes and lead paint and whatever deferred maintenance should’ve been done years ago at these houses are getting closed what does that mean exactly? Because you’re also clearing the rent rolls off a large property with each house that gets a notice like this,  so is that clearing the way for conservation or development?
Look conserving this at least in part IS possible just look at King Ranch:

King Ranch: Embryo of preservation In 1982, the Brandywine Conservancy and a group of residents collaborated to buy and save 5,300 acres, lighting the spark that fired the conservation movement in Chester County and beyond.

POSTED: September 21, 2005

Coming south out of Coatesville on Route 82, just beyond the Ercildoun crossroads, time seems to slow down…..This is the land where for almost 40 years steers from the fabled King Ranch of Texas spent blissful summers feeding on lush pastures before they were sent to the packing house.

It is the land of the Cheshire Hunt, where hunters ride to the hounds in pursuit of the wily fox.

And when this land came under threat of development in the 1980s, the Brandywine Conservancy and a group of farsighted residents jumped into the fray to save it, lighting the spark that fired the conservation movement in Chester County and beyond.

“We had to do something,” conservancy founder and chairman George ‘Frolic’ Weymouth said. “We heard they were going to sell to Disney. It was unbelievable.”….

An offer was tendered, but the first negotiations in Kingsville with Jim Clements, Kleberg’s successor, got off to a rocky start.

“Jim Clements told me: ‘I don’t like you and I didn’t like your father, either,’ ” Weymouth recalled. “That kind of took us back a bit.”

Clements turned down the conservancy offer, but on the spur of the moment, Sellers said he and Weymouth offered to buy it all. They asked for a six-month option, which Clements granted.

“It was an interesting time,” Sellers said. The conservation easement movement was in its infancy and the new rules governing such easements coming out of the IRS were untested, he said.

Sellers said skepticism over the deal was rampant. “I never took so many arrows, and I just got out of heart surgery.” Weymouth said he even put his own property up for collateral.

By the time the deadline arrived, 21 investors were persuaded to join a limited partnership, called Buck & Doe Associates, to buy 5,367 acres for approximately $12 million and protect it with conservation easements. A 771-acre parcel was carved out to protect The Laurels, which is now a preserve owned by the Brandywine Conservancy…..

“At the time, it was the biggest privately funded land-conservation deal in the United States,” Sellers said. “It was probably the best real-estate investment these people ever made.”

Boston lawyer Stephen J. Small, who wrote the IRS rules governing conservation easements, said the King Ranch transaction was “a home run of a deal.”

“They were way ahead of their time,” said Small of the Brandywine Conservancy. “They were really pioneers.”

 

There was so much written on King Ranch (including a great article from 2011 from Lancaster Farming about the cattle from Texas returning to Chester County.).  The articles are all fascinating and there is a lot to be learned from them – check out the articles going back a few decades now on the Philadelphia Inquirer website.

Here’s a little Bryn Coed history courtesy of the Philadelphia Inquirer circa 2005 (really long article, this is just an excerpt):

Deal aims to keep bulldozers at bay A 1,522-acre site, but only 27 lots.

POSTED: June 23, 2005

With Congress and the IRS taking a close look at the tax breaks landowners are claiming for conservation, U.S. Reps. Jim Gerlach (R., Pa.) and Tim Holden (D., Pa.) have started the Congressional Land Trust Caucus to ensure those benefits are preserved.

Their efforts come at a time when a major conservation deal is pending in West Vincent Township that depends on those tax breaks and would preserve at least 1,522 acres in an area under siege as one of the hottest addresses in Chester County.

“We want to make sure they are not taken away,” Gerlach said of the tax breaks during an interview earlier this week. Another goal is to preserve the programs that help land trusts survive and prosper, he said.

The land, most of which is owned by the Bryn Coed Farms Co., includes the homestead of the late U.S. Supreme Court Justice Owen J. Roberts and other historically important sites.

Bryn Coed Farms is owned by William, Daniel, and H. Richard Dietrich, all of whom are philanthropists. H. Richard Dietrich Jr. is a trustee of the Philadelphia Art Museum. They are heirs to the Ludens cough-drop fortune…..It is one of the largest conservation transactions in the county since a $12 million arrangement in 1984 that preserved 5,367 acres of the King Ranch.

If the sale goes through for one of the signature landscapes in northern Chester County, there would be 27 lots instead of a potential 700 new homes allowed under the current zoning. Lots would range from two acres to more than 100 acres….

The deal, which has been pulled together by the North American Land Trust, has been in the works for three years, said the trust’s president, Andrew L. Johnson.

North American Land Trust has formed a limited partnership with 12 investors, or founding members, and itself as managing partner, Johnson said. The partnership would buy the land and place conservation easements on it, and members would then be deeded lands with restricted building areas.

The members of the partnership would receive tax deductions based either on the purchase price or, if they wait a year, on the market price, Johnson said….The West Vincent deal stands in contrast to the plans announced for the 450-acre Jerrehian estate, another prized tract outside West Chester, that calls for the construction of 530 new homes.

Since I can’t find this on the North American Land Trust website, I am guessing this fell through, never to be heard of again? Pity.

Saw smatterings of discussion on Pottstown Mercury site years ago, and the last mention I seem to be able to find is in The Phoenix in 2006.

Rolling the years back a bit (14 almost to the day), there was a fascinating and extremely LONG article in The Daily Local in 2002:

Buying the farm By MARGARET FITZCHARLES

Farmers Who Have No Roots In The Suburbs, Short Leases On Coveted Land Are The Rule.

POSTED: May 24, 1992

Steering the massive, green John Deere 4440 tractor over loamy Chester County earth, leaving corn seed in his track, Rick Schlosberg is the picture of the modern metropolitan-area farmer: Tending borrowed land on borrowed time.

“I don’t own a stitch of ground,” admitted the rangy 37-year-old. “The day is gone when someone can buy land around here and think they can farm it.”

Schlosberg farms more than 2,000 acres of suburban Philadelphia. Not a stone can he call his own….

The two Holy Grails of rental farming – a large parcel and a long lease – recently were united in one Chester County tract, creating a sensation in the farming community.

Offered for lease was the 1,000-acre Bryn Coed farm in West Vincent, which the Dietrich family, former owners of Ludens candy and the Nan Duskin boutiques, had privately farmed for years.

If they had gone public with their intention to rent, the Dietrichs likely would have been overwhelmed by responses. Instead, their retiring farm manager and his agent quietly asked five area farmers to bid.

The winner was Schlosberg, who was already farming 1,100 acres close to his home in Newtown Square, Delaware County, and had a good track record with large properties.

“The last thing the owners wanted was someone that couldn’t handle it,” said Schlosberg, who was busy planting 700 acres of corn and 200 of soybeans at Bryn Coed.

Schlosberg was coy about the lease, but reliable sources said he was paying $62 per acre for three years.

So there hasn’t been talk of North American Land Trust in conjunction with Bryn Coed for the past few years, but rather Natural Lands Trust which just saved the Haas Estate in Villanova, PA.  I am a big believer of the Natural Lands Trust, so if anyone can save at least a chunk of Bryn Coed it would be them.

But ….BUT this is such a large land parcel. And developers are willing to pay. Hoping for the best, yet fearing for the worst here. If a conservation deal is actually in the works, it would be nice to hear about. But who knows? This is one of the last large prime plums like this in Chester County, right?

Thinking about Bryn Coed of course begs the question of what is happening in Chester County overall with regards to development and when do residents regardless or municipality REALLY have a say?

From one end of the county to the other, open land is under siege. Constantly.

Thanks for stopping by.

west caln house moving day

move4All photos courtesy of John Hashem. He happened to be in West Caln driving on Cedar Knoll Road when it was occurring.

I have always been fascinated by these kinds of house moves. It’s very cool when an old house and building gets a new lease on life.

Apparently the home owner is moving the old house and then building an addition to make the house more livable by today’s standards.

Adaptive reuse and restoration. That is pretty cool in my book!

The company doing the moving is Wolfe. I think what they do is really cool!

move 1 move2 move3 move5

great lecture coming up: rediscovering devon – the history of the devon horse show

devon oldMy pals at the Tredyffrin Historic Preservation Trust have this amazing lecture planned about the history of the Devon Horse Show. And  Jenkins Arboretum is hosting the event.  And well…my friend Michael Morrison is giving the lecture! No matter how you slice it, this will be terrific!

Devon Inn circa 1900I completely expect nouveaux Devon will be distressed but why fuss? It’s just history. It’s part of the Main Line, Philadelphia, and Chester County. This is not a horse show event, this is a local lecture that will be fascinating.  Our history belongs to all of us, after all.

The Tredyffrin Preservation Trust is a marvelous organization and I just love Jenkins Arboretum and have plants from their plant sales in my garden! And I love learning more about local history! We have such a rich history to draw on, so lectures like this are always interesting and informative.

Here are the Details:

On the eve of the opening of the 120th anniversary of the Devon Horse Show and Country Fair, Tredyffrin Historic Preservation Trust is delighted to welcome guest speaker             J. Michael Morrison to the 2016 Spring Lecture Series on Thursday, May 25 at Jenkins Arboretum, 631 Berwyn-Baptist Road, Devon, PA. Reception will begin at 7 PM, followed by lecture at 7:30 PM.

Morrison will present, “Rediscovering Devon”, based on the Society’s book, created to commemorate the history of the Devon Horse Show since its inception in 1896. The oldest and largest outdoor multi-breed competition in the country, Devon’s history is interwoven with the history of the Main Line and Chester County and continues to be part of the fabric of our community.

A native of Upper Merion Township, Morrison has enjoyed a lifelong interest in local history and is currently involved in historic restoration and architectural interior design, featuring antique and repurposed materials.  In addition to serving as President of Tredyffrin Easttown Historical Society, Morrison is the President of The King of Prussia Historical Society and has written three books, Images of America”, “Then and Now”’, an in-depth look at the history of King of Prussia and “Upper Merion Township: The First 300 Years”.  In the words of Morrison, “If you are unaware of your past, you are destined to repeat it, and not even know why”.

The Trust is grateful to Dr. Harold Sweetman and the Jenkins Arboretum & Gardens, for their generous sponsorship of the “Rediscovering Devon” lecture on May 25. Plan to arrive early for the lecture and enjoy the botanical gardens wonderful collection of trees, shrubs, wildflowers and ferns.

“Rediscovering Devon … The History of the Devon Horse Show”
Guest Lecturer: J. Michael Morrison, Historian, Lecturer & Author
Date: Wednesday, May 25, 2016
Cost: $15/person
Refreshments: 7:00 PM – Lecture: 7:30 PM
Location:  Jenkins Arboretum & Gardens,  631 Berwyn Baptist Road, Devon, PA 19333

You can access ticket purchase through the Tredyffrin HistoricPreservation Event Page 

up home and delightful 

 After meeting my friend Pattye for coffee at The Buttery I did the rain crawl back to my car.

I stopped in Up Home for a Mother’s Day gift. I love this store! So pretty and the nicest staff! I especially love their selection of soaps, hand lotions  and candles and La Guiole cutlery. 

Up Home is the perfect store when you need a little accent for your home or a hostess gift or a Mother’s Day present or birthday present. They also have some beautiful art hanging on the walls that is for sale. I posted photos because actually the store carries a lot of items that you don’t really see with the same quality at other  stores.

Check it out – on King in Malvern!