I’m trying something new in my garden. Not a plant, but food for plants. It’s called. Irish Organics Microbial Premix Soil and Sea.
It is completely organic, and yes it is from Ireland. I’m a test garden and so far so fabulous. It will be available for sale in the US soon on a limited basis. Basically it’s things from the bog and things from the sea – kelp seaweed and so forth.
I love Irish and English gardens, so when I had the opportunity to try this I jumped on it. You add this concentrate to your watering can. And when you first add the water it really does smell like a bog after the rain that damp dankness and peat smell. When you water your plants – and it’s great for foliage too – The odor changes slightly and it smells like seaweed and kelp.
It’s even better than seaweed extract which I have used for years. And a plant that loves being watered with this are your household orchids. Don’t forget your Japanese maple trees – this is a food they will love! Actually everything including your vegetable garden will love being watered with this stuff!
Stone House Revival is an awesome show if you haven’t seen it (I record the episodes so I do not miss any!!) One reason I like this show is the way Devlin works with these old houses is awesome – he doesn’t try to make them what they are NOT and his renovations fit with the homes he is working on. And his is also not a beige, beige world. He is not afraid to use color, but there is a subtlety. He practices historic preservation and adaptive reuse and I think that is terrific!
When I looked out into my rear shade gardens a few weeks ago I knew I had too much green and I had to break it up. The great thing I’m learning about shade gardening since I never did it to this extent before is that there are so many choices of foliage colors that you can get your color in your shade gardens that way.
When I inherited my garden from the prior property owners, due to illness in the house and age the gardens had gotten quite overgrown. As a peeled back layers of predictable but overgrown shade plantings I started to get a vision in my mind.
From where the backyard needs our woods there is a definite area, but it’s an area that needs to stand out yet transition to woodland nature completely. Realizing grass was never going to grow the way we want it in an almost completely shady area, we wood chipped a lot of the back. And that’s the handy thing about having what’s on your property that are hardwoods – when you need tree trimming done your arborist cuts some for firewood and ship some for mulch. I am picky about my mulch and this way I know exactly where it’s coming from.
So the first couple years we were here I worked with the native hostas that were here and slowly started adding more fun varietals found through nurseries. But the thing about hostas is that periodically need to be split and I had been avoiding the inevitable.
One morning recently I looked out back from upstairs and all I could see with the green green native hostas. No variety in their leaves— nothing –— it was just too green.I stood out there for a few days just staring at the spot I wanted to improve going back-and-forth in my head with what I could do. And in the end I decided I would stick with what works and I knew grew back there – because parts of it got dappled sun but a lot of it is very shady. So I decided on a bunch of different heuchera cultivars, ferns that had some variation to them, and one luck would have it a garage sale that was also a plant sale gave me the opportunity for some fabulous variegated hostas.
This past weekend I dug out the plain green native hostas, and re-homed them behind the planting area I was redesigning as a way to break up pachysandra ponds. So many people, my mother included, adore pachysandra. Pachysandra adores this property but it gets overwhelming so I need to break it up.
With the native hostas out of the front part I was redesigning, I now had room to put in the variegated hostas and heuchera. It will take a couple weeks before it starts to fill in properly but looking out on the curve by the birdbath I am now much happier with the color arrangement and flow. While I was on a roll I also split solid native hostas out of other planting beds and relocated them around the back.
And I also introduced heuchera this year to one of my permanent pots back there. I like planting permanent planters with at least some perennials to give me a foundation. In another planter I have little miniature hostas tucked in between beautiful variegated ivy. I love the way it looks I had found this absurdly heavy Victorian wrought iron standing planter and I cleaned up the planter and planted it with miniature hostas and variegated ivy. In my mind it is also somewhat period accurate to the planter.This year I also decided to tuck Caladiums into a couple spots with hostas in another bed in the back to add an extra bit of leaf color pop. And in other planters I also will use Coleus and polkadot plant with perennial ferns and daylilies. I am not a big fan of Caladiums and coleus as houseplants, but I have new respect for their ability to break up the density of greeness in the shade garden.
I will also admit I love the look of ostrich and other large ferns planted in these areas. They are so pretty and delicate when their fronds are unfurling in the spring, and then they add to scrape loose of airy greenness that different throughout the summer. And I even have to Boston ferns which I overwinter that I put on a double shepherds crook in the back as well.
Gardening in part is an experiment every season. I have some things that have worked and some things that haven’t worked. It’s trial and error. But I’m really happy with the way my back yard is starting to look. I wanted a more natural looking oasis that was pretty but not contrived. And it has taken a few summers but it’s starting to flow.
This is the first time I have really had a dedicated shade garden. Other places I have lived in the past had more sun. So this was kind of hard for me to get the knack of at first, but every year I learn a little bit more. And I get to have a sun garden in the front so I think I have the best of both worlds.
And a final word because someone had to remind me hostas are originally Asian by origin. Hostas are cultivated in the US no matter their origin, as are many plants. Plenty of plants are non-natives originally that now grow as natives, so not actually incorrect. Take Chinese Sumac ( ailanthus altissima), known to most Philadelphians as stink weed. The tree was first brought from China to Europe in the 1740s and to the United States in 1784. It was introduced in Philadelphia because people thought silkworms would eat it. Then for a while it was planted as a street tree. It is now considered an invasive.
I am speaking of the ordinary green leaf variety of medium size with purple flowers that basically now grow wild around here when I say “native”. I also have miniature hostas that pop up wild in the back at the edge of the woods – different spots every year. I transplant them. The medium hostas that I call native are everywhere. Like ferns, if you have woods, chances are you have them. Like the plain old orange daylilies people refer to as natives. They hail from China originally as well, yet here they are— everywhere. Hemerocallis fulva, I do believe. So plant and ecology experts might disagree with my explanations, but anyway.
Every time a developer promises glory, remember photos like this. This is what we fight topreserve, this is what more people should want to preserve. Once views like this are plowed under for development they never rise again. Views like this is why we need to slow down development.
Climbing up the steps of the water tower on Granogue is so super cool. It has (I think) essentially the best view of the Brandywine Valley. And I have been fortunate enough to do it twice in my lifetime. This most recent time I had a camera with me.
When you reach the top and climb out onto the top, it’s like you can reach out and touch the sky. The wind whistles around your head, it’s not for the faint of heart. But oh, the view. There is nothing like it.
It’s on private property. So I am sharing some photos with you.
Thank you to my friends who made this possible. I loved every minute of it ….again.
This is what the ruin of Ebenezer A.M.E. church and graveyard looks like THIS week as in right now. You see, some of the East Whiteland Public Works folks went by this week to see if there was anything they could do to help those of us interested in saving this piece of history before it is too late. They were so nice to even consider doing this.
They asked how to get permission from the A.M.E. Church (national) to do this.
Good freaking question since the A.M.E. church elders are not overly communicative is a substantive way when you contact them.
Oh the irony that here they are allready to celebrate their bicentennial in Philadelphia right after July 4th and this is how they value their history and pay tribute to their dead. What a bunch of holy hypocrites.
A.M.E. Church can you hear me now? People are willing to help and you still don’t seem to give a good god damn about these people buried here! Historically important yet everyday people.
What would Bishop Richard Allen who founded your church think? What would Bishop Richard Allen who founded your church do? Personally I think he would have come out himself to help clear the weeds. I also think he would be ashamed and disappointed in you for not being better stewards of history and of the departed.
I have a file of e-mails and attempted contact. National A.M.E. church leaders, regional leaders, local ministers. Some give an initial acknowledgement of my outreach, some have wasted my time with pleasant platitudes and a complete lack of action and I wonder if they really care, but most? Most just blow me off.
There are bits of newspaper articles here and there, including this one from the 19th century with horrible language that was sadly acceptable and not considered offensive back then:
It is maddening. These aren’t my ancestors, this isn’t my religious history per se, but this place speaks to me. It speaks to me of our country’s history and the important part these brave individuals buried there played. Freed slaves, free people of color, black Civil War soldiers. They matter. #ThisPlaceMatters — yet it rots.
Then, all of a sudden people have started to connect with me again about this place:
One of my friends…. lives in Malven Borough. She and her brother went o try and locate that headstone but weren’t successful. I’ve never been back to the site myself but would love to go once the poison ivy is gone. I don’t know the exact location..is it at the corner of Bacton Hill and 401 or Bacton Hill ? I don’t want to trespass. Their family has been around forever. Her father was a minister and there were a large number of siblings but all are gone. Thanks
And then this from another local historian I just met:
I recently had a lady reach out to me who’s looking for information on their relatives that were supposedly buried at that Ebenezer Church. I was hoping I would be able to find more information when I went there but everything was so grown over that we couldn’t even find the gravesite…The people that she is looking for is a James Williams, but he also went by the name Perry Ringgold. He bought his freedom in 1851 and lived in this area as a circuit preacher in the AME churches. He had a daughter who we do not have any records of and that is who I’m looking for. The daughter also had a daughter and then passed away shortly after the baby was born leaving the child to a Sophia Lane, who we do not know the relation of them to the baby. I think it may have been a sister-in-law
And then a lady named Tia contacted me. She is looking for family buried there. She is looking for the family the historian told me about above. She shared wondrous documents with me. The original deed, and a few other gems. I do not know where the originals of these documents are, but I was so happy to receive her e-mails.
It will take a village to save this. I would love to get the weeds hacked back so we can see the graves. It has been a couple of years. I heard the boy scouts will do this, but the gentleman I messaged who suggested it never responded.
If anyone from the A.M.E. church sees this, I really wish they would give a damn. We are talking about cleaning up and maintaining a historic sacred place. Is it as exciting as Mother Bethel A.M.E. Church in the Society Hill section of Philadelphia? No, but it is JUST as important. A lot of the history of these churches is being lost, not just here. Records were haphazard, a lot of the history oral.
Here is the text Tia sent me from the deed:
Deed of Trust
James Malin to Samuel Davis et al.
This indenture made the eleventh day of the sixth month in the year of our Lord one thousand eight hundred and thirty one between James Malin of the Township of East Whiteland in the county of Chester and state of Pennsylvania, yeoman of the one part and Samuel Davie, Ishmael Ells, Charles Kimbul all the said county of Chester, Trustees of the African Methodist Episcopal Church to erected in the Township of East Whiteland in the said County of Chester, of the other part. Witnesseth that the said James Malin as well for and in consideration of the trusts, hereinafter mentioned, created & declared for and in consideration of the sum of one dollar, lawful money of Pennsylvania, to him in hands paid by the said Samuel Davis, Ishmael Wells & Charles Kimbul, the receipt of which one dollar is hereby acknowledge, hath granted, bargained, sold, aliened, enfeoffed, released and confirmed and by these presents doth grant, bargain, sell, alien, enfeoff, release & confirm unto the said Samuel Davis, Ishmael Wells and Charles Kimbul, their heirs and assigns a certain lot or piece of land situate lying and being in the Township of East Whiteland aforesaid, beginning at a post or stone thence by land late of Doctor John Jacobs, deceased, north sixty degrees, east eight perches to a post or stone, thence by other land of the said James Malin, North thirty one degrees and an half, West nine perches to a post or stone, thence by same and land sold to Charles Kimbul, South sixty degrees west eight perches to a post or stone, thence by land late of John Jacobs now of Joseph B. Jacobs, south thirty one degrees and an half, East nine perches in the place of beginning, containing seventy two perches of land which Joseph M Paul by deed of Indenture dated the eighth day of the fourth month on thousand eight hundred and sixteen and recorded in the recorder’s office in and for the County of Chester in book M3, page 245, granted and conveyed unto the said James Malin, his heirs and assigns forever. Together with all & singular the ways, rights, liberties, privileges, improvements, hereditaments & appurtenance whatsoever thereunto belonging on or any wise appertaining and the reversions and remainders, rents issues and profits thereof, and also all the estate eight title interest use /codeftion property claiming demand whatsoever as well at law as in equity otherwise housover of him the said James Malin of in to and out of the same. To have and hold the said described lot or piece of land, hereditaments and premises hereby granted or mentioned or intended so to be with the appurtenances unto the said Samuel Davis, Ishmael Wells and Charles Kimbul and their heirs to the use and behoof of the said Samuel Davis, Ishmael Wells & Charles Kimbul their heirs & assign and the survivors and the survivor of them and the heirs and assigns of such survivors and survivor forever. In trust nevertheless and to the use, intents & purposes herinafter mentioned, expressed & declared that to say that the said lot or piece of land hereby granted and conveyed shall be appropriated as a place & spot of growing whereon to build and erect a church to be called and styled the Bethel African Methodist Episcopal Church in the Township of East Whiteland in the County of Chester for the members of said church to meet in and at, for the purpose of performing divine worship and for the erecting other necessary guildings for the conveniency and accommodation of the members of said church and for the purpose of a burial ground to bury and inter their dead and to and for no other use, intent or purpose whatsoever. And the said James Malin for himself his heirs, executors or administrators doth covenant, declare & agree to and with the said Samuel Davis, Ishmael Wells & Charles Kimbul & their several & respective heirs & assigns in manner following that is to say that upon the death of any one of them the said Samuel Davis, Ishmael Wells and Charles Kimbul or upon their or any of them being mindful or desirous to quit him or themselves of the said Trust, or upon their or any of them being expelled from religious membership by the discipline of said Church, it shall & may be lawful to & for the majority of the members of said Church in meeting assembled as often as occasion may require to make choice of another or others to manage and & requite the said Trust in the room and stead of such as shall depart this life, be desirous of parting him or their selves of the said Trust, or being expelled from religious membership as aforesaid. And the said Samuel Davis, Ishmael Wells and Charles Kimbul and the survivors and survivor of them and the heirs and assigns of such survivor shall at the request of the majority of the members of the said Church in meeting assembled as aforesaid convey the said lot or piece of land with the appurtenances agreeably to the Trusts, uses intents and purposes aforesaid to such person & persons and their heirs & assigns as shall be by the majority of the said meeting in that behalf chosen, nominated & appointed in order to keep on foot and in continuance the said Trust estate for the uses and purposes aforesaid. And also that the Samuel Davis, Ishmael Wells & Charles Kimbul or any or either of them shall not, nor will not at any time or times hereafter assign or convey over his or their said trust estate of or in the said dasonibet lot or piece of land and premises or any part therof unto any person or person or persons so as to make a tenancy in common or otherwise to sever the joint tenancy on the premises hereby created or intended so to be or in any other manner whatsoever buy shall stand and be (?) of the premises with the appurtenances to and for the uses, intents & purposes aforesaid, and to have no other use intent or purpose whatsoever. In witness whereof the said James Malin have hereunto set his hand and seal dated the day, month & year first above written. JamesMalin. Seal. Sealed & delivered in the presence of us John Rogers, James Dilworth, before me the Subscriber, one of the Justices of the peace in and for the County of Chester cam the above named James Malin and acknowledged the above written Indenture of Trust to be his ad & deed to the intent the same as such might be recorded according to law. In testimony whereof I have hereunto set my hands and seal the eleventh day of the sixth month in the year of our Lord one thousand eight hundred and thirty one. James Dilworuth. Seal
About 20 years ago I was on the Main Line Delaware Committee for The Philadelphia Orchestra. At the time I was younger than all but a handful of the women by at least 20 or 30 years. There were three of us who were the youngest and they referred to us as the “working girls”. Yes, truly. They had no idea what they were actually saying when they said that – what they meant is that we worked. The majority of the rest of the members did not work. A few were high powered executives, but the majority of the ladies did not have to work.
So they planned this car rally fundraiser for the Orchestra that ended at Granogue, home of the gentleman photographed above, Irénée du Pont, Jr.
He was fascinating to meet and so nice to us. He showed us his home, his greenhouses, his collection of cars, and the water tower on the estate which has hands down the best view of the Brandywine Valley.
I never forgot meeting him or climbing to the top of the water tower. (And I said at the time if I ever had the chance to go up to the top of the water tower again, I would bring a camera!)
Flash forward a couple of decades and I get go to another event on Granogue. This time I climbed the water tower with a camera (photos soon!) and I had the rare second opportunity to meet Mr. DuPont again. Now well into his 90s, he and his wife have been married over 70 years! He is still an old school gentleman with a love of family, nature, people, and cars.
I think he is a really cool person. Very humble and so bright, yet utterly down to earth. It was such a great experience to have the opportunity to meet him again and climb the water tower again too!
Quaker Hill in the Borough of West Chester is changing forever. The Hickman came tumbling down for progress. I am still sad, and yes I actually spoke with people from the Hickman a while back about this. I still just can’t help but wonder if a more clever architect could’ve done some kind of an adaptive reuse to preserve at least part of the building, or a façade? But we will never know because the walls have come tumbling down.
These photos taken over the past couple of days come courtesy of my friend Catherine Quillman the historian, artist, and writer.
I will note that some speedy von commenter from the Hickman posted a comment that the Hickman wasn’t closed. Never said it was. I only have been commenting (lamenting) the loss of another old building that might have been saved, preserved, or re-purposed in some way.
Read the article. It is a cautionary tale of land shark developers and politicians and local zoning and the Municipalities Planning Code or the MPC. You know that giant body of code that steers our local zoning in PA?
West Bradford >> Developers with housing plans at the former Embreeville State Hospital property challenged a recent change to a township zoning ordinance, arguing the township is not meeting its “fair share obligations” for regional growth.
“Fair share obligations”? Wow who knew you HAD to have development? I guess the screen shot from the Legal Intellegencer above from March 2016 is the end result of this?
So I had heard there was supposed to be a hearing June 22, but then it was postponed. The most incredulous thing to me is this will be a hearing where it sounds like the public can’t speak?
A public hearing for a development that could change the character of the Unionville area will take place Wednesday, Aug. 3 at the West Bradford Township Building.
At stake is an ambitious plan by Embreeville Redevelopment LP to build 1,100 townhomes and apartments, including stores and businesses on a 225-acre parcel known as the Embreeville property, over the next 25 years. Some local residents say the development plan is too much, too fast and will adversely affect the area with traffic congestion and a strain on the school system. The development is equal to about a quarter of the entire West Bradford housing supply.
A zoning hearing is needed because the land is zoned for a park, prison, or educational institution, not a housing development….Total tract size includes 222 acres in West Bradford and 22 acres in Newlin Township. Thirteen acres will be single-family residential; 52 acres will be resreved for multi-family residential and 18 acres will be reserved for mixed residential…The zoning hearing will be held at the township building, 1385 Campus Drive, Downingtown at 7 p.m.
The same article as above appeared in The Daily Local a couple of days ago.
For decades, the hundreds of acres of land that stretch between the villages of Embreeville and Romansville in West Bradford served the needs of Chester County citizens, as the location of a poorhouse, a state hospital for the developmentally disabled, and as the spot of a state police barracks.
Since the late 1980s, it has been less and less of a vibrant place, and now stands as a forlorn reminder of past uses.
But that is not to say that what is being proposed by a land developer at the Embreeville center would be a worthwhile way of rejuvenating the property. Rather, the idea that the land would be the perfect place for a housing project with more than 1,000 units would be a call for a disaster.
We urge the West Bradford supervisors, who have been asked to start looking at the development, to reject calls for this sort of reuse. We trust from their comments that they do have the best interests not only of the citizens of West Bradford, but for all central Chester County, in mind.
Yet like most tragically bad development plans it is back again.
It is too big and too dense.
Why does everything proposed in Chester County have to be an open space killer ?
She was born around 1730 in southern Chester County. She moved about the region, at times living in New Jersey, perhaps having a common law Indian husband named Andrew Freeman. She was known throughout the region, wandering with her two dogs Elmun and Putmoe selling brooms and woven baskets. In her later years she lived in the newly constructed Chester County Poorhouse where she died and was the first to be buried in its graveyard.
A road is named after her (“Indian Hannah Road”) in Newlin Township, Pennsylvania, and there are two memorial markers for her in Chester County, near Embreeville, Pennsylvania.
Ok look, everyone knows that kind of a chunk of land will not go undeveloped, but why should this proposed development be allowed to ruin a part of Chester County?
Here are a couple of comments I have seen on social media:
With thousands of additional cars each morning, you can certainly plan on seeing quaint Marshalton installing a few traffic lights soon. As it is now cars back up a half mile each morning at the intersection of Strasburg and Telegraph, these developments and the extra traffic will a nightmare. I’m going to post a video soon of what Broad Run Rd looks like each day as people try to bypass the traffic and rush up the dirt road one after another to try and avoid the line on Strasburg. If the police want to make some money with speeding tickets they could make a years quota in 2 or 3 days. And this is BEFORE the developments have gone in.
This tract is very near the Natural Lands’ Cheslen preserve. I’m very disappointed in West Bradford….More suburbia in the last undeveloped area of Chester County, in West Bradford and parts north of Unionville?
Why is that they feel it’s acceptable to pack houses in a region just because its right next door to a preserve. Is this the vision of the Chester County comprehensive plan: create as many high density housing developments as possible but link them together with a few small open space areas, “passive” parks, recreational areas and exercise trails. So what if we no longer have working farms or authentic rural areas – we have a “planned” community of Chester County. You’ve heard of gentrification? Well this will be the organized suburbs.
As early as 1800, the poverty-stricken in Chester County had a place in the community. They lived at its Poorhouse, built on a 350–acre tract that was considered one of the most scenic regions of the county. In recent years, the grounds were known as the State Police Barracks at Embreeville and are now in the news for being part of a contested proposed high-density development.
The original building—a stately three-story brick structure with dormer windows—stood on a hilltop overlooking the West Branch of the Brandywine. From a distance, it resembled any other profitable farmstead of the region, with dairy cows and outbuildings. For the poor, this was no ordinary farm, of course. It served as an orphanage, a homeless shelter, a battered women’s refuge, a lying-in hospital, a nursing home and an asylum….For the most part, the Chester County Poorhouse was built in 1800 as a working farm. It was no Dickensian debtors’ prison. It had central heating and a steam laundry. Water was piped in from a nearby spring, and the kitchen was equipped with a professional-grade range and coffee boiler. Children of a certain age had their own dining room and, later, a school.
That first year, Hannah Freeman—aka “Indian Hannah”—appears on the books as one of only two nonwhite “inmates.” She and “Black Phyllis” were allowed to live, without segregation (that came later), among the other women in a dormitory-style room equipped with 27 cots but only 16 sets of sheets, as the “Visitors”—a group of men selected to tour the facilities—later reported.
On Nov. 12, 1800, when Freeman entered the Poorhouse at age 69, she was celebrated as a native Lenape Indian who lived alone with her two dogs in a series of “rude” huts. She had been under the care of a group of Quaker farmers, who signed a formal agreement for her financial support.
Freeman was later immortalized in the 1909 poem “The Last of Her Race.” In her lifetime, she became somewhat of a celebrity in Chester County. Yet only one other entry is found on the book—and that’s her 1802 death, the first in the institution, and her burial in the “almshouse graveyard.”
Anyway, I haven’t a clue as to how to stop this development any more than how people will stop whatever eventually happens at Bryn Coed in West Vincent and whichever other township has some of that estate in it but wow, we have to do something about development, right?
Chester County needs a citizen driven county-wide initiative to slow down, and in some cases stop development. Chester County residents need to take back their county. When the open space is gone, it’s not coming back. When the farms are gone, they won’t be producing food. And all of these developments impact our way of life and our taxes and schools. Municipalities get the quickie high of one time ratables and the burden goes to the taxpayers forever after, correct?
Every resident of Chester County needs to remember these horrible development plans every time there is the opportunity to vote in the most local of elections right through to Harrisburg. Use your power of your vote to enact change. But in the mean time, support the folks immediately impacted by a development on what was Embreeville State Hospital.
Contact Andy Dinniman’s office. He’s the state senator. As for State Rep, contact your State Rep and tell them this is a BAD PLAN to enact on formerly(?) state owned land. And that is something I wonder: who owns the land? Is it the developer now? Or is it still the state pending the outcome of these hearings?