land conservationists/preservationists in chester county should watch this curious case…in willistown

This is a post I have been struggling with. I am a big supporter of Natural Lands. But I am not sure what to think here.

Summerhill Preserve is acreage in Willistown. It was put in preservation. But was the intent of the gift of this land and the preservation of it to make it a public access site, or just a preserved swath of land?

I used to see stuff fly by the past few years mostly about birds and Summerhill. Here are some screenshots and note that these screenshots don’t seem to go anywhere now when you click on the link:

Ok well stuff gets updated and moved around on websites and links get broken. No biggie. But when you go to Natural Lands website and put in Summerhill all you get now is a handful of very old articles mentioning but not centered on Summerhill. I never thought much of it, because I never thought Summerhill was like a place you could just visit, although I am sure I would love it like I love so many of Natural Lands properties. But Summerhill? Not on their list of places to visit. I just checked again today.

Again, no big deal. I have always thought, whether it is right or wrong, even if land is in conservation/preservation, it is not necessarily just open to the public. And Natural Lands kind of always said that about Summerhill. Note this screenshot from a few years ago I found for an event listing about Summerhill :

So then someone randomly asked me what was going on with Summerhill. I replied truthfully, wouldn’t know, had forgotten about it. Why had I forgotten? Because I never knew you could visit it and it had been ages since I even saw something mentioning it.

Well there is a wee problem and Natural Lands is in court with the Summerhill neighbors. And Willistown too I guess? But this is not the same as the strange case of Wildflower Farm and those neighbors. No comparison. Among other things so much of this land abuts private property. It’s not a working farm, it’s land — open space.

If you ever ask anybody who lives adjacent to a trail or conserved land or even a park they will tell you there is good and bad and living La Vida COVID in some cases has made it awkward at times. Sometimes stupid human tricks prevail – leaving trash, trespassing on private property and taking stuff, even urinating and worse from our much loved trails onto private property. It happens. Sadly, it happens. I have heard about it on the Chester Valley Trail and the Radnor Trail even in years past on the trail at Haverford College. People have told me similar stories like this near Willisbrook in Willistown. Stupid human tricks and a lack of respecting boundaries and private property, and of course it makes you wonder if they even respect the actual nature preserve or trail?

This is not the fault of the people responsible for the trails or nature preserves, in my humble opinion. It is probably impossible to babysit all of these properties all of the time and how many operate is somewhat on an honor system of dawn to dusk without real actual bodies on site to close and open properties?

So it begs the question of ironing things out so people know what will happen with what they donate land maybe? And ironing out what the public can and can’t do also perhaps? Is it not OK for preserved/conserved land to just be well passive, pristine, and preserved? As in maybe it’s left alone or maybe it’s an occasional very special space not open dusk ’til dawn to the public? And what if that is what a donor or grantor said in the first place? What if that is what conservation easements said? So maybe you can’t just pave paradise after all and put up a parking lot or you can but not necessarily everywhere?

I remember when the Summerhill place was for sale, conserved land was a selling point (and it was in the Willistown Conservation Trust Barns and BBQ as well):

So yes, neighbors moved in here knowing about the land preservation/conservation. But I think the question from reading an Orphan’s Court thing is original intent vs. I guess Natural Lands wanting to open this up and build a parking lot, etc? But I am having a hard time envisioning how they would even do this because of all of the properties that touch what Natural Lands has if that makes sense?

After reading this Orphan’s Court thing, it makes a person wonder if the neighbors here are wrong? Because if the original intent was just preserved land and that can be proven, are they wrong?

I love Natural Lands. I know some will think me horrible for raising this issue. But isn’t it important? After all you want people to donate land but land in conservation and save it from development, right? That is why I feel this case bears watching. It also looks like there is other stuff other than what is in Orphan’s Court brewing.

I am sharing the Orphan’s Court thing. Not trying to slam Willistown Township or Natural Lands. But this makes for interesting reading and pondering. And these strike me as VERY different neighbors than the OTHER Wildflower Farm thing and a different situation altogether, correct? To me this will be a case that no matter what happens will possibly lay things out a little more clearly for others in the future and will you agree when all is said in done? I am all for the race to preserve open space to quote another organization, but it should be less foggy, and simple right? Or wrong?

Time and judges will tell.

meanwhile in east goshen, holding collective breath over eminent domain at the hicks farm

10 Things You Might Not Know About The Horses Respiratory System - Mel  Equine

Meanwhile, in East Goshen they are preparing for their new year and Re-Org meeting. A new face joins the board, Cody Bright, Marty retired, and hopefully this breaks up what is formerly known as the Eminent Domain Trio with only David Showy Shuey left and his lil’ grodie toadie Michael Lynch right?

So hold your breath, say prayers, rub the nose of a horse you know for good luck.

I will note it does NOT take THAT much legwork to unwind or undo an eminent domain threat of taking. JUST FREAKING DO IT! Write your letters, sign off on it and Yo East Goshen Supervisors who don’t want eminent domain? Present a RESOLUTION to REVOKE the use of eminent domain here and sign it. That is what the have done in Lower Merion and elsewhere….the elected officials need to sign their names to this!

Eminent domain is wrong. This use of eminent domain as a bully tool is wrong. The Hicks family deserves better, every resident in East Goshen deserves better than eminent domain. East Goshen streams live on You Tube and they haven’t said anything else, so wear a mask and go if you would like. The meeting is Monday, January 3rd, 2022 at 6 PM.

Hopefully, this is the last time to display this image:

May be an image of horse, grass and text that says '#HANDSOFFTHEHICKSFARM NO EMINENT DOMAIN IN EAST GOSHEN'

christmas comes to wildflower farm in willistown (hopefully)

This evening at Willistown Township, the Township officials voted in an agreement with Wildflower Farm, specifically a settlement agreement. As I am a friend of the Heenans, I knew the agreement was coming, but was waiting for the official evening which was the Supervisors Meeting this evening. I have not been privy to the terms of the agreement, I should be CLEAR about that. I also didn’t ask because it’s not my business. I am just happy an agreement was reached.

Well, here it is:

I have to admit the Willistown Supervisors were very patient with the charming neighbors of Castlebar Lane. Still can’t decide if they are Super Stepford, Desperate Housewives throwbacks, Knotts Landing or just jerks of the first order.

And yes, Castlebar dwellers, that is my opinion and I am allowed said opinion. I would never have thought twice about any of this if I hadn’t seen things with my own eyes, including but not limited to someone driving back and forth and back and forth in front of Wildflower Farm’s driveways when I was there one time. For quite a while. I still think that was super creepy and stalkeriffic.

One of the neighbors, who was speaking a lot during settlement agreement identified himself as Frank Houder. He is on the Willistown Planning Commission and his business has gotten a lot of work out of Willistown Township over the years, correct? So I guess as an observer this evening I am a little surprised that he seemingly doesn’t get how things and ordinances work?

I don’t know. It’s a great mystery of life. How these neighbors can be so horrible even when tamed down at a meeting being recorded, escapes me. Again, my opinion and it’s allowable. But those people are why I do not go to many meetings and am grateful for Zoom and streaming. I can watch them and have my meeting Tourette’s and not disturb anyone. Because frankly, people like this make me want to stand up and tell them they are terrible and would they please just STOP.

So all these Scrooges of Castlebar Lane and their ilk will now sit and stew in their McMansions with their cold, dark hearts?? Will they keep filing things against Wildflower Farm? Will they keep essentially spying on Wildflower Farm?

People, it’s freaking CHRISTMAS. Do you get the whole reason for the season? Do you get how horrible you have been to your NEIGHBORS you supposedly wish to get along with?

And why do these neighbors think they should have been privy to a settlement agreement between the township and the farm? That has nothing to do with the neighbors, does it? Or do these people think so highly of themselves that everything has to do with them? (Umm hello, if the world revolves around them, stop it I want to get off.)

Well only time will tell what the Scrooge Collective on Castlebar Lane does. Here’s hoping they just accept they live in an area where farms used to be more plentiful than McMansions. Here’s hoping they realize how LUCKY they are to have a Wildflower Farm in their midst. I mean what if they were allowed to be pig farmers? Me thinks pigs would be far more offensive and odiferous than flowers, yes? And they could have a field of townhouses or ticky tacky new construction crammed in, but they are looking at a FARM and a nice rehabbed one at that. Be GRATEFUL.

As a gardener I have shared my garden resources with this farm – sources for unusual bulbs, tubers, roses, and native plants/trees. As a gardener, I am thrilled to have them close to home. They are wonderful and their flowers are awesome and so is their honey. And they are nice people I have come to know and I am grateful to call friends. Nice people. Beautiful children, hardworking. Chester County is LUCKY to have them.

Merry Christmas Wildflower Farm. Your friends and customers and nice neighbors believe in what you are doing!

Here are the prior posts on Wildflower Farm:

October 7, 2021: the strange tale of wildflower farm: in willistown when is a farm not ok to be a farm?

October 8, 2021: this is wildflower farm

Merry Christmas Heenans! Can’t wait for spring flowers!

vintage christmas, anyone?

Yes that looks like an old sleigh above because it is!! A 19th century sleigh!

Where? One of my favorite places on earth any time of the year, but especially at Christmas: The Smithfield Barn in Downingtown on Little Conestoga Road, just outside of Eagle.

This is their vintage Christmas weekend and it’s full of holiday magic. A fun assortment of Pennsylvania found pieces with vintage and antique finds and an amazing assortment of vintage Christmas ornaments and decorations. It is an every year stop at this point. I alway get amazing ornaments including vintage Polish and Ukrainian and German Mercury glass ornaments.

The Smithfield Barn is not a store, it’s a picking barn and doesn’t have “retail hours”. You will however, find the proprietress at antique shows and high end vintage and antique markets. But she is the ultimate Christmas elf this time of year and when you step inside those big barn doors you never know what you find!

Bring a jacket and wear shoes suitable for a barn, and check out this Saturday, November 13th from 12 pm to 4 pm and Sunday, November 14th from 12 pm to 4 pm. 425 Little Conestoga Road, Downingtown, PA.

add a little christmas magic to your world this weekend at life’s patina

Life’s Patina will welcome guests Friday November 12, Saturday November 13, and Sunday November 14! See website or Facebook page for details!

You know it was a great evening when you come home and you can still hear the music and people’s laughter and delight in your head! That was exactly the Life’s Patina experience for Holiday 2021 last evening! Last night was the preview cocktail party and shopping event for the Holiday Barn Sale which opens to the public on Friday, November 12, and runs through the weekend.

Some of my friends and I always attend the previews for Meg Veno’s sales at Life’s Patina. But a lot of time we choose the evening cocktail preview, and last night that’s what we did. And it was magical.

Yesterday was one of those days where I received a couple of broken Christmas teacups in the mail, so Christmas magic was exactly what I needed! When we walked into the barn, we were transported to a glittering, warm and elegant setting. Beautiful ornaments and inspiring tableaux or vignettes throughout the two floors and rooms in this magnificent barn.

I definitely was not fun for my friends to hang out with because I was literally distracted by wonderful things every time I turned my head! Among my favorites were the little felted Christmas mice. And the Mercury glass ornament wreath I bought. I also bought a felted garland – I just love those. They are simple and pretty and very old-fashioned Christmas to me.

Every year I think Life’s Patina can’t top the year before. And every year the magic just gets better!

I should also mention the food and cocktails were amazing, but for me it was just being there and soaking in the atmosphere. And the music was to die for. So perfect.

I encourage all of you not to miss Life’s Patina Holiday Barn Sale this year. It makes you believe in the magic of the season, and we all need a little holiday magic in our lives.

Life’s Patina Holiday Barn Sale opens tomorrow, Friday, November 12th. The hours are 10 AM to 5 PM. Wear appropriate shoes as you are parking in a field, and walking around in an actual old barn.

The Life’s Patina Holiday Barn Sale is also on Saturday, November 13th from 10 AM to 5 PM and Sunday, November 14th from 10 AM to 4 PM.

Life’s Patina is located on Willowbrook Farm, located at 1750 N. Valley Road, Malvern, PA 19355.

I would be remiss in not mentioning that this year is also Life’s Patina 10th anniversary celebration! And a portion of the sale proceeds will go to T&E Cares.

Thanks for stopping by and as always, I am not being compensated for this post in any way, shape, or form. I am merely a happy supporter and customer!

quick wildflower farm update

Inside the hoop house – zinnias and lisianthus and more!

🎈UPDATE 🎈 the neighbors on Castlebar against Wildflower Farm in Willistown apparently had their zoning appeal tossed by zoning last evening. I am told the phrase used was “lack of jurisdiction” to hear their appeal.

Wildflower Farm will be back in front of zoning in a few weeks.

Snapdragons. They just remind me of childhood, because it was
one of the first flowers I ever grew.


I will also note that not all neighbors on and adjacent to that street are against the farm. I think that is an important distinction not always noted. Also important to note is that not all of the “neighbors“ who have been involved with these zoning challenges of Wildflower Farm actually physically live on Castlebar Lane. That is a matter of public record, isn’t it?

I could look at this view all day!


And I am stating for the record that I am not the spokesperson of the Heenan family or their attorneys which is the latest rumor being spread. I am a friend of the Heenans, have a brain in my head, a legal right to express how I feel about this issue, and am an occasional customer of their farm. I am also a gardener, so I appreciate their efforts to rejuvenate their farm which frankly needed cleaning up, and their interest in flowers and trees and native plants and bee-keeping.

This Wildflower Farm property is zoned agricultural, BUT truthfully they could have IGNORED all that and built a giant McMansion when they purchased it. But instead they opted to restore the house and the barn and bring a viable adaptive reuse to existing farmland.

The restored barn and hoop house


The Heenans should have been welcomed into their neighborhood, yet they have been treated most poorly by some. For the record I happen to live on a cul-de-sac, and if this farm was on my street I would be unbelievably happy.


I think Willistown folk and other related people interested in this topic that it is really great that you are interested in supporting Wildflower Farm through this process and please continue.


🌸🐝Flowers bring happiness. We know, it’s why we garden.🌸🐝


I am using some of my photos of the farm taken last week, and I am also sharing a photo of the Radnor Hunt which does go through their property sometimes. Not all property owners allow the hunt to pass through any longer.

#SupportSmallFarms

May be an image of horse and outdoors
Radnor Hunt passing through. So cool!!!

the last day of summer…at life’s patina

Life’s Patina at Willowbrook Farm is one of my favorite places. It has been a happy place for me since I photographed it for the first time in August of 2012. I never get tired of taking photos there.

Meg (right) and one of her fabulous designing women/right hand women, Julie (left)

This morning marked the preview of the Fall Barn Sale at Life’s Patina. My friend and I plan a girl’s day around Meg Veno’s amazing events. We went to the early session which featured “brunch with a view”, and because we had lunch plans, brunch was actually my dinner. (We were all given “brunch boxes” when leaving.)

The barn was a dazzling array of fabulous vignettes from top to bottom. I showed restraint and stayed away from the Johnson Brothers china….which was really hard. But I couldn’t say no to the fabulous creations of Tracy Phillips from Reimagined Style! And I may have snuck a fox kit statue into my garden. And bath salts from Zoet Bathlatier.

Meg and her team do such an amazing job with these sale events! And they are always so pleasant and fun! The charity Life’s Patina is introducing many of us to this time is SpeakUp! and it’s there for teens. If you go, pick up their literature as they do great things.

The Life’s Patina Fall Barn Sale is open to the public September 24th, 25th & 26th:

📌‼️We are back!!! This September, we’re bringing you our latest fabulous vintage and new home accessories, decor, furniture, gift items, and architectural salvage at our Fall Barn Sale. We couldn’t be more thrilled to be open to the public without a scheduled appointment so head on over to peruse all of our artfully curated finds while taking in Fall at Life’s Patina. Local purveyors of fabulous artisanal foods will be holding tastings and creations from local artisans will be shown as well. A portion of all proceeds from the sale will be donated to the amazing Speak Up!, a nonprofit dedicated to helping teens develop supportive relationships with the adults in their lives.

Barn Sale Hours:

Friday, September 24th, 10:00 am – 5:00 pm

Saturday, September 25th, 10:00 am – 5:00 pm

Sunday, September 26th, 10:00 am – 4:00 pm📌‼️

It was a wonderful way to spend part of the last official day of summer! I hope you will check out Life’s Patina this weekend! BRING YOUR MASK PLEASE!

here we go again: a new battle for the brandywine

Photo from The Marshallton Conservation Trust (MCT) Facebook page which promotes the preservation and improvement
of the Marshallton community

It’s like development Whack-a-mole. We hear the news that Crebilly is safe for now and about literally like 5 minutes later this spectacular property on the outskirts of Marshallton is threatened by development given the sales and marketing materials on the listing. As per The Marshallton Conservation Trust’s Facebook page:

“1451 and 1452 Camp Linden Road and is often referred to as “Tarad Hill” and sometimes as the Bunny Meister Farm. It consists of 136 acres and includes land spanning from Northbrook Road on the west to North Wawaset Road on the East.”

~ Marshallton Conservation Trust September 9th, 2021

I do not know the property, but I have been by the approximate location in the past. What is left of horse country in Chester County (not being flippant but development eats up the land like a giant game of PAC-MAN in this county) is upset my sources tell me. This property is being big ass big time marketed and there is a website up called “The Brandywine.

Here are some screen shots:

The Realtor has serious chops. It’s Lavinia Smerconish, yes as in Michael Smerconish’s wife. Sadly, I wouldn’t expect him to necessarily be sympathetic to preservationists because real estate is quite simply in his blood, but wow, what if this was happening in Bucks County where he hails from originally? Would it resonate?

Realtors just have a job to do like anyone else, but wow just wow.

So here we go again, Chester County. A trust owns the land per the deed (and the name of the Trust shows up in Pocopson Meeting Minutes from February, 2021), but the address is oddly familiar isn’t it? Shame on them, but am I surprised? Nope.

Above is what the Marshallton Conservation Trust has to say. They left out expressing concern to the Realtor or famous husband. All I have to say is if you contact any of these people, be polite. It’s all sharks and lawyers.

“Traffic is slow on Northbrook Road!” ~ Friends of Radnor Hunt quote and photo 9/9/21.

I don’t know all (or a lot) of these horse-associated properties. However, the name of this place “Tarad Hill”, kept dinging in my brain. I knew I had heard of it, so I dug around to find the reference and it is Radnor Hunt Club. So not all who belong to Radnor Hunt belong to the foxhunt part, and not all who ride with the hunt are club members…but anyway, that is the reference and one can’t help but wonder, wonder, wonder what the foxhunters think? After all if this parcel gets developed in any manner, chances are they lose another prime location to ride in, right?

I don’t know. Chester County is kind of a development sh*t show at this point, so I don’t know if miracles will happen here and a conservation/preservation buyer will be found because when you read the marketing materials, it’s a just a fancy git’ r’ done and sold site, isn’t it? That is how it reads exactly – see it translated to Coldwell Banker, Opus Elite (and isn’t that company name absurdly pretentious AF?), Monument Southeby’s, ReMax in York, etc., etc.

Tarad Hill as a property is spoken about by people — apparently there is so much wildlife on that farm. Wild turkeys, bald eagles, herons, the list goes on. It is reportedly (and looks) magical. There is also historical importance. I was told the Hessians went through the property crossing at Trimble’s Ford on their way to defeat the “colonists” at the Battle of the Brandywine, causing Washington to retreat to Valley Forge for the winter. Yep, it’s more than just “Washington slept here”. Does it have bog turtles?

This property could indeed find a conservation/preservation buyer even from within the Chester County foxhunting ranks, but people have to want to save and preserve this. Of course all of the Chester County Realtors who go to Radnor, Devon, Polo matches etc, etc might have a client…you just never know, do you?

But right now, the song in Chester County remains the same: another big ass property with history is at risk. (If you would like to donate to the Marshallton Conservation Trust, follow this LINK HERE.)

Tally-Ho, Chester County, the preservationists need to ride again…and quickly.

Facebook photo found on Marshallton Conservation Trust page