even your friendly neighborhood blogger geeks out occasionally

so I saw this

 

So….Mike McGrath is one of my gardening idols.  He’s kind of like Pennsylvania’s Monty Don, right?  I have listened to his show off and on for years…long before I knew there was a Monty Don, truthfully (Sorry Monty!)

Anyway, if you follow their Facebook page for You Bet Your Garden With Mike McGrath you get all sorts of fun stuff to check out and learn…just like by listening to his shows.

So I saw that post I screenshot above and thought what the heck and sent the show an email expressing interest in calling in. And O.M.G. Mike McGrath e-mailed me himself!! (Yes, the inner and outer gardener start to geek out simultaneously.)

So today I spent time chatting with Mike McGrath (inner gardener and outer gardener are completely geeking out now all hope is lost!)  Yes ME. Ordinary rabid gardener ME.

He is SO cool.  He is every bit as welcoming and nice as he sounds on the air when you listen.  Having had a rather different experience this week when I was on a local talk radio show after being asked to call in, this was a welcome change. It was like he was sitting at my kitchen table having coffee.

So we talked about growing tomatoes and I learned something new which was super cool .  And we talked about my closed gardening group Chester County Ramblings Gardening Group.

Now I did not get to get his advice on Bishops Weed and ask whether or not there are actually true red cyclamen or if growers just feed pink ones dye. I did not get to tell him about my favorite seaweed feed Irish Organic Fertilizer….  Which is a bummer.

I admit I kind of did a wee short circuit like a teenage fan girl of David Cassidy or something.  Dork city in other words. BUT nevertheless apparently I am on the show they will air on February 23.

If you have never checked out his show – you should – here are the times:

Saturdays at 10am
Mondays at 3pm
Wednesdays at 5pm

Episodes Available On:
Stitcher

Podbean

iTunes

Where can you listen to YBYG?

Click here to find your local station.

He is one of what I like to call my garden influencers.  Here are the others:

Jenny Rose Carey Senior Director at the Pennsylvania Horticultural Society’s Meadowbrook Farm 

Glorious Shade  is her book and every gardener should have a copy!

Suzy Bales who passed away in 2016 –  two books in particular Down to Earth Gardener: Let Mother Nature Guide You to Success in Your Garden, The Garden in Winter.  My unexpected pen pal for a short time when I wrote to say thank you for her garden writing.  Her books can be found with used book dealers on Amazon and other places.

David CulpThe Layered Garden – I have a layered garden in places so his book was invaluable. Haven’t seen Brandywine Cottage in Downingtown would love to – here is his website.

Monty DonGardener’s World Magazine and BBC show.  Author of a whole slew of books.  I own Down to Earth and The Complete Gardener.

Gene Bush – Shade Garden Expert.  Visit his website. (you’ll be glad you did)

Other influencers?   Some of the growers and nursery folks I know.  And gardens I have visited and gardens I have had. My current garden is a little bit of all of those.

Also another treat for you today? People I buy plants from…yes….plant resources:

Black Creek  East Earl PA Mennonite owned,  Facebook page and sort of a website 11 E Black Creek Rd  East Earl, Pennsylvania 17519

https://reallancastercounty.com/markets-2/flowers-gardens/black-creek-greenhouses/?fbclid=IwAR1l2EOKyVH_r7m2nHaBZrl9WJiQueluSxY5_Y8yxjpRJ3SsxnIRse7hX4o

https://www.facebook.com/Black-Creek-Greenhouses-163960706964555/

Black Creek is my spot for herb plants, vegetable plants, old fashioned perennials and annuals that no one else has and much more.  They also sell supplies and tools fairly reasonably.  They are the only place I will buy a pre-made hanging basket from.  The best times of year to go? Spring until full-on summer hits and then the fall.  The greenhouses are PACKED with plants.

Yellow Springs Farm Chester Springs PA (amazing native plants and the best goat cheese ever)  https://www.yellowspringsfarm.com/

Yellow Springs Farm is owned by Catherine and Al Renzi.  Native plants organically grown and I have planted with them through three gardens.  Catherine helped me do my first sort of riparian buffer. And they raise goats for award winning goat cheese.

Go Native Tree Farm in Lancaster County PA  https://www.gonativetrees.com/

Go Native is so cool. The owner literally forages in woods all over including places like West Virginia for seed and seedlings.  I have bought Chestnut and Burr Oaks from them and they have a micro species called an “Amish Walnut” which when cut has a tiger grain – it is a natural cross between a walnut and I forget what but you only find them in Lancaster County.

Rhododendrons Direct in Oregon  http://oregonrhododendron.com/  Yes you can visit if you go across the country.  The guy who owns it is named Jim.  He had all my crazy red rhododendrons I wanted.  His shipping is impeccable and plants are flawless.

RareFind Nursery in NJ  https://www.rarefindnursery.com/  Mail order and in person – native plants – amazing

Brent and Becky’s Bulbs   https://www.brentandbeckysbulbs.com/  Mail order. Best bulbs

Camelia Forest Nursery  https://camforest.com/  Ok in NC and you can visit I have only done mail order.  There was a winter hardy Camelia created by Morris Arboretum years ago I wanted they grow Sochi tea plants.

Applied Climatology at the West Chester Growers Market    appliedclimatologyllc@gmail.com  -they are on Facebook and in season you find them Saturdays at West Chester Growers Market https://www.facebook.com/AppliedClimatologyLLC Chris Sann is a walking encyclopedia of plant interesting – he is like my gardening father.  And I have gotten some amazing plants from him.  He gets me to go out of my comfort zone and try new things like green Japanese peonies.

Morningstar Daylilies in Woodstown NJ http://www.morningstardaylilies.com/ Mary Burgents.  Open Farm days and mail order.  And she manages Delaware Valley Daylily Society.  LOVE her daylilies

Crownsville Nursery and Bridgewater Gardens for hostas and some woodland perennials  https://www.crownsvillenursery.com/  in person  and mail order in Virginia – I only use mail order – awesome plants

New Hampshire Hostas   https://www.nhhostas.com/  in person and mail order – only have used mail order – also great plants. Unusual cultivars and old favorites.

Pickering Valley Feed on Gordon Drive in Exton.  They have a Facebook Page. Plants, Supplies, and more….love them

West Chester Agway. Matlack Street in West Chester. They are so awesome and great plants, garden ornaments, supplies, garden carts and more. They also have a Facebook Page.

Uhler’s Feed & Seed Lancaster Ave Malvern. Plants. Supplies. Bird seed. Love them. They have a Facebook Page.

Somerset NurseryTwo locations to blow your mind Glenmoore and Zionsville. 

Please note I list the resources I have used as a regular customer.  I am not compensated for my opinion.

Bye now! (I have a cake to bake)

the sisterhood of the traveling rug

This could be considered a cautionary tale. To pay attention when you’re bidding on things in an out-of-state auction. More specifically pay attention as to how you will get the item home.

Just after the New Year I was checking out an online auction down in Charleston, South Carolina. There was this old red-ish rug in an old house on an old floor that was like my dream rug of what I had been searching for to decorate with in my dining room.

I am not a giant fan of wall-to-wall carpet. I like hardwood floors and area rugs. And my favorite area rugs are old Persian and oriental rugs, most of which (like most people) I cannot afford. So like many other things when it comes to decorating you have to get creative. You check out auctions, you check out house sales, you go barn picking.

So when I saw this rug I knew if I could get it at a reasonable price, I would finally have what I wanted. I am not one of those people who was fortunate enough to inherit old rugs like this from family members as hand-me-downs. And it’s hard to find a decent sized oriental or Persian or Afghan rug that isn’t brutally expensive even if it is in rough shape.

Of course a lot of that has to do with the fact that certain kinds of rugs aren’t being made as much in their originating countries as they once were and when relationships with countries change with the US it means things aren’t being imported much either. Another factor are consignment stores and dealers jacking prices for their profit margins. Mind you, we live in a free market society and if that’s what they want to charge that is their right. However, it is my right as a thrifty soul to shop a better bargain.

There were other rugs in this auction in particular and this would’ve been considered a lesser quality rug, although for me it was what I wanted. So I set an absentee bid (and it was low) and walked away from the auction site. Much to my surprise no one really bid on it except for one other person. And they seemed to lose interest in it and in the end to my surprise I got it and got it for a song. I got it for like a true garage sale price which seriously shocked me.

I have won rugs in auctions before. If you are working with an honest to God budget or just don’t have a lot of money it is sometimes your only option. The key is to know the auctioneer, and in this case it was a Caring Transitions franchise.

After I won the rug I waited to see when they would invoice me for shipping. I contacted the auctioneer and this was a learning curve for both of us.

This is a room size rug pretty much – a smaller room but then again I have a small house. As I noted previously, I have won rugs in auctions before and I’ve had them shipped to me FedEx. They come insured, you have to sign for them – you have to be home to take receipt and it’s generally speaking pretty easy.

This time it wasn’t so easy. Some auction houses have their own personnel who pack and ship items if they agree to pack and ship. Other auction houses and auctioneers have a third party pack and ship items. In this case it was finding a third-party to pack and ship who didn’t want to gouge me for many times over what I actually paid for the rug.

One company told the auctioneer around $425 and that wasn’t necessarily including all the fees and what not that they charge. Another company told the auctioneer well over $500. Neither the auctioneer or myself expected this at all. I did not know what to do so I reached out to a friend of mine that lives in the area of the auctioneer. She agreed with me that the price was crazy.

This is where it becomes the sisterhood of the traveling rug.

My friend offered to get the rug and take it to FedEx and have them pack and ship it. Because that’s what I have done in the past and it was quite reasonable in price.

My friend went to the warehouse where it was being stored and nobody was there to greet her. So in the end, the auctioneer kindly had the rug I purchased delivered to her home and she took it to FedEx. FedEx charged me (with significant insurance for safety purposes) a little over $95. Not $400 not $500.

The rug arrived this morning and I signed for it. Now I have an appointment with my rug cleaner who will come and pick it up and take it out to be cleaned and have a mat cut for it. I am able to afford to do that because I didn’t just settle for what these packing and shipping companies said should be the charge.

So that is my cautionary tale. And I will tell you that when I spoke with the FedEx man this morning he said he had delivered something else locally a while back – a musical instrument – and the man who receive the package was charged over $500 to ship it by a third party pack and ship company.

So when it comes to these subcontractors I guess it’s caveat emptor or buyer beware… and do your homework.

And yes I know some people are going to read this post and think I am crazy hunting down an old rug. So many people will say “why not just buy a new one?” That part is easy. I love vintage. I like the character of old and vintage items. I just don’t like the price tag sometimes which is why you shop around.

Many thanks to my friend who helped me get my rug to me. She is and always has been aces.

like a little pandora’s box: the old recipe box

I love to cook and everyone who knows me knows I collect vintage and old cookbooks, so today I added an old recipe box to my repertoire.

It was a funny little thing and probably no one else would have bought it because it’s like a piece of some other woman’s history but it has all her cherished recipes in it, which I find really cool. I also found it really sad that no one in her family wanted it.

Old Fashioned Walnut Loaf? Sounds pretty good!

These are just a few of the recipes. The owner of the recipe box seem to like pineapple because there are a lot of pineapple recipes. But there are also a couple of old-fashioned fudge recipes too!

Pot pies. Green bean casserole (which I will keep in the recipe box but will never cook because I think it’s gross.) And more!

Now that I have this recipe box and it’s a nice one I am also going to add my late mother-in-law’s recipes. She was a legendary home cook and it was because of her I learned how to make an amazing gazpacho.

I love old recipes. Especially the handwritten ones. They are history. Someone took the time to write these down, which is what makes them special.

These old handwritten recipes are a thing. There is actually a blog called Handwritten Recipes but the creator hasn’t posted since December.

Now most prefer the ease of simply going to the internet and letting your fingers do the walking but nothing beats an amazing old cookbook. Or a recipe someone thought enough of to write down.

Old cookbooks and old handwritten recipes are a little like going on a mystery history tour. And if you want to master a basic recipe in the kitchen, this is how to do it. New cookbooks are lovely but it’s the old ones that really teach you the art of cooking. Not just a new recipe.

Tips and tricks. That is also what you will find in between the pages of old cookbooks and recipe boxes. It’s kind of cool when you find one. You also learn about the food trends of the past. (HINT: check out a cooking show from Ireland you can find streaming on Netflix called Lords and Ladles.)

In 2018 Food and Wine wrote an article on cookbook collecting:

Before you throw your old cookbooks away, it might be worth getting them appraised. Antiques Roadshow’s latest season, which premiered this past Monday, will make a stop in one of America’s most beloved food cities: New Orleans. While shooting in the well-known southern travel destination and former Louisiana capital’s convention center last summer, Antiques Roadshow appraiser and Brattle Book Shop owner Ken Gloss revealed to Forbes that our old family cookbooks are worth more than we realize….According to Gloss, some of the earliest American cookbooks (dating back to the 1790s) are selling in the $1,000 range, while books from as far back as the 1400s and 1500s go for thousands of dollars. Some other pricey collectibles are glossy cookbooks about cake decorating from the 1920s, first editions signed by cooking legends like Julia Childs and Fannie Farmer, and even some hard to find recipe pamphlets once included with newly purchased appliances. Gloss states that although seemingly mundane, their high price tag is due to how these items serve as historical documents—about places, people, cultures, and, of course, the food of the time.

“[Cookbooks] offer a view into society at the time,” Gloss told Forbes. “What were the foods people were eating? What was available? How were they preparing them?”

Old cookbooks and discarded recipe boxes can be found everywhere. Thrift stores, garage and estate sales, eBay, Etsy, Thriftbooks, used book stores local to where you live, library book sales and more. Church rummage sales are one of my go to sources for old cookbooks.

Step away from your keyboard next time you need a recipe and dust off a cookbook or crack open an old recipe box. You never know what treasures you will unearth!

nice ker-feal article in county lines magazine

capture ker feal

Courtesy of County Lines Magazine

So….no secret….I am the lover of what some consider to be more obscure or less popular bits of Chester County history. Among those bits would be Ker-Feal, the country home of Dr. Albert Barnes.

“When I looked out the window at Ker-Feal this morning, God went over the head of all artists in my estimation: He had made a picture of wide fields and luscious hills covered with an immaculate white; and holding the fields and hills together in the composition was a beautiful network of white lines made up of lacy patterns of branches of trees and twigs of bushes.”

~ Letter from Albert C. Barnes to Mrs. Owen J. Roberts, March 30, 1942 (courtesy of County Lines Magazine February 2019 article)

Ok so yeah. THAT. Makes me itch  to see Ker-Feal as I have never been and have never been invited to tour the property and take it all in.

Sigh. It sounds amazing, doesn’t it?

Which is why I am so glad that County Lines Magazine’s February, 2019 issue will feature a terrific article on Ker-Feal!

You heard it here first, make sure you pick up the February, 2019 County Lines Magazine – follow this LINK for Flipbook link on issu

Click here for article which is now available online.

The article was written by my pal Kirsten at Natural Lands.  Partway down the article you will see a photograph of the cover for a 1942 House & Garden Magazine. That is my personal contribution to this article as I have that magazine.

County Lines Magazine: Thursday, January 24 2019 9:29

Fidèle’s House … Forever Green
Written by Kirsten Werner, Natural Lands

Most people who know of Albert Barnes think of the extraordinary art collection he left in trust for the public, first at his Lower Merion home and then later moved to a modern museum on the Benjamin Franklin Parkway in Philadelphia. The world-class collection includes over 181 Renoirs, 69 Cezannes, 59 Matisses, 46 Picassos and so much more.

But few know about another residence in Chester County, home to a different type of collection.

Here’s a short version of that story.

…Dr. Barnes and his wife, Laura Leggett Barnes, acquired an 18th-century farmhouse in Chester Springs, Chester County in 1940 and called it “Ker-Feal.” Named after Barnes’s favorite dog, Fidèle de Port Manech, Ker-Feal translates to “Fidèle’s House” in Breton. Dr. Barnes adopted the Brittany spaniel mix on a trip to France.

(Now go and read the article – it’s amazing, well-written, and interesting)

Here are my other Ker-Feal posts:

is chester county’s ker-feal at risk?

AWESOME! conservation easement placed on dr. barnes’ ker-feal!

east whiteland do you know your own history?

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It took years, but I finally located a copy of A Brief History of East Whiteland Township by J. Gilmore Wilson from 1965.  It is a slender volume, but it captures the history of a Chester County municipality that has no town center and to most is a place you drive through.

But East Whiteland has historical significance and as I do not wish to damage the spine of my book, I converted photos I took with my phone into a PDF so people can see it.

East Whiteland is one of those places thanks in part to organizations like the Chester County Planning Commission that people think they can just keep dumping development in.  Someone said to me again last week how King of Prussia was once upon a time farms and open space.  They then compare East and West Whiteland to King of Prussia, as in these municipalities are getting WAY over-developed.

I have said it before that I object to the Chester County Planning Commission being head up by a carpetbagger from Lower Merion Township. He doesn’t live in our county, how much of the history of places like East Whiteland does he know?

East Whiteland is a funny place because as much as it use to be farms, it was also equal parts mines and quarries and industrial.  That of course is why there are some astoundingly toxic areas past and present in East Whiteland Township.

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East Whiteland is home to random historical facts and locations.  For example: Dead Horse Hollow. Yes, a lovely name and according to J. Wilson Gilmore was at one time located south of the then PA Railroad, a quarter-mile east of the township line. As the railroad was being built all dead horses and mules were…well…dumped there. Can you imagine how THAT place stunk to high heaven in warmer weather? Gross.

Or how about Cabbagetown? It was a small community on Summit Road. And Barker’s Corners? That was a little village at the intersection of Swedesford and Church Roads.

Or how about the giant Penn Oak that was said to pre-date colonial settlers on Flat Road? Does it still stand somewhere, or was it cut down or did it die years ago?

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What about the Native Americans who once lived and roamed what is East and West Whiteland? Like the Okohocking which were for a while given a 500 acre reservation somewhere in Willistown Township? Do the residents of East Whiteland know the Indians referred to the area as “The Dark Valley” because of all of the woods? Of course today they would not recognize the area given all of the development.

How many know East and West Whiteland used to be one Whiteland? And they split into two areas circa 1764-1765?

Around 1777 do people realize that George Washington and his army after the Battle of the Brandywine marched into the area and encamped near Malin Hall? To quote Mr. Wilson:

With his troops deployed along this ridge from Three Tuns at the junction of King Road and Goshen Road, and west approximately three miles as far as Ship Road, he was in an excellent position with an army of approximately 11,000 men. During his march up the Valley, quite a number of local farmers joined his ranks.

And residents see reference to the Battle of the Clouds in East Whiteland but do they realize this was a battle which didn’t actually ever happen? Why? Inclement weather, apparently. Mr. Wilson states had the battle occurred, “the British army might well have been routed.”

The history goes on and meanders from schools to Duffy’s Cut to all of the inns and taverns and residents and industry and quarries and farms and early schools and churches.  Did you know the Catholic Church tried several times to build a church in various locations in East Whiteland but were never able to complete the task?  Mr. Wilson also talks about Ebenezer AME whose ruin barely stands today on Bacton Hill Road with its abandoned graveyard with a mobile home park to one side, and new development approved last year to spring up and around it.

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This book is fascinating and this is why I wish more local historical societies had really good websites with archives available online. I can tell you East Whiteland does not. Bits of local history continue to get lost and it would behoove the township to give the historical society more resources or help them build a proper website and archives.

Things in this book Mr. Wilson refers to are a mystery to me.  What were the Speakman apartments, for example?  And the Chester County Academy? Where is it?

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And what of a crazy cool log barn ?

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Or a crazy cool log cabin? “South of Conestoga Road, on Bacton Hill”?

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Or what was known as the “Black Maria” ?

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Now Elinor Janney Detterline also wrote a brief history of East Whiteland for the Tredyffrin Easttown Hostorical Society around 1970. It is available in the online archives they have for the public to use.

But Mr Wilson’s book? To me finding a copy was like finding the holy grail.  It’s fascinating.  And I wish more would take an interest in the history of East Whiteland before everything of historical value disappears. Because if this township doesn’t start to have more interest that extends past people like me and members of the historical society, then what?

Until I got this book I had no clue that they totally celebrated East Whiteland’s Bicentennial.  And then I found related to that, this super cool thing from a page about Frazer on Facebook:

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And East Whiteland had a tagline/slogan before “The Heart of the Great Valley” and it was “Land of Limekiln, Plow and Millwheel”.

Enjoy the book, I think I got it all back into order before I converted to a PDF.  East Whiteland has history.  And it’s not just the modern-day history of groaning under development.

Thanks for stopping by.

endings…and my list of super fun places for antiques/vintage/unusual

The shopping center where Resellers in Frazer is located was sold. I wrote about it December 1st. Resellers will be around until the end of month I believe.

Alderfer Auction is doing the merchandise liquidations in a series of auctions. I bought a small Eastlake side table for a fraction of what it was worth. It has a slate top and I thought it would make a good plant stand.

I went over to Resellers today to pick up my table and to preview what would be in the final couple of Alderfer Auctions.

The photo above shows my side table withOUT the slate top. Here it is with two Clivia plants on it:

There are a couple of more Resellers Auctions through Alderfer. Here are some preview items I thought were interesting:

I have gotten some wonderful things from Resellers over the years. Josh Unruh the owner has done a terrific job. You can also find him up at Stoudts Black Angus Antiques up in Adamstown, PA.

Resellers had a great run. I will miss it.

I hear the warehouse that Resellers is located in will be split up into multiple stores? Don’t know if that means two or more than two.

Resellers closing will create a definite void in my opinion. There are several stores which try to be like Resellers, but they never have been quite able to capture the eclectic mix they created.

So where should people go to treasure hunt once Resellers is closed? Here is my short list:

1. Brandywine View Antiques 1244 Baltimore Pike. Chadds Ford, PA 19317

2. Classic Home Consignment 113 E King Street, Malvern, PA 19355

3. Habitat for Humanity ReStore Caln
Caln Plaza Shopping Center
1853 East Lincoln Highway
Coatesville, PA 19320

4. Habitat for Humanity ReStore Kennett New Garden Shopping Center
345 Scarlet Road
Kennett Square, PA 19348

5. The Loft at Knots and Weaves 218 East King Street, Malvern, PA 19355

6. Old Soul Decor 119 W. Market Street, West Chester, PA 19382

7. The Rusted Rooster Marketplace 510 Route 313 Dublin, PA

8. The Smithfield Barn, Downingtown, PA (you can find them at places like Clover Market and Gas Works in Frazer, PA)

9. Consign-It Furniture in Kennett Square – New Garden Shopping Center 345 Scarlet Rd, Suite 12 Kennett Square, PA 19348

10. Consignment Shop at Surrey 810 Lancaster Avenue, Berwyn, PA (the older ladies who work there are delightful, the manager less so)

11. Jake’s Flea Market 1380 Route 100, Barto, PA (obviously not open in the dead of winter as it’s mostly outdoor – keep an eye on their Facebook Page and website they will be back in April)

12. The Clover Market – with several locations seasonally in Bryn Mawr, Chestnut Hill, Kenneth Square, Collingswood NJ. Follow them on Facebook for the most up to date news.

I will also remind people to keep an eye out for Caring Transitions of Chester County sales and auctions. They are truly a hidden gem. I also recommend them highly for their senior downsizing and estate services.

Please note I have not been compensated in any way for my personally curated list above. These are businesses I patronize.

Thanks for stopping by.