a visit to northview gardens

Today was the summer get together and meeting for the Delaware Valley Hosta Society.The extra special treat today is we were hosted by Jenny Rose Carey and got to tour her beautiful Northview Gardens.Ms. Carey is the Senior Director of Meadowbrook Farm , which is now a Pennsylvania Horticultural Society (“PHS”) site, but was once the home of Liddon Pennock.Jenny Rose Carey is a well known garden lecturer and she practices what she preaches at her own gardens which were amazing.(Click here for more information from an earlier post.)Northview Gardens is a very cool place with an interesting Philadelphia history. As Jenny says on her website:

Northview’s 4½ acre site was originally part of Wilmer and Anna Atkinson’s 1887 100-acre Victorian Model Farm. Some of the trees planted by Mr. Atkinson (the Founder and Editor of the Farm Journal) remain, including a beautiful 150-year-old Japanese maple. The current property includes the original 1887 farmhouse and carriage house.

The gardens are fun and full of whimsey along with beautiful plantings and plant specimens. Of special note would be the amazing trees including Japnese maples like few have ever seen. Also lots of very cool witch hazels, and a beautiful allée of golden redbuds.I hope to go back at a future date to explore the gardens further. They are truly unique and inspirational.

Many people were blown away that this lovely 4 1/2 acres just exists quietly where it does in Ambler. To me it is also a wonderful testament to historic preservation and land preservation. We need more Northview Gardens in our lives and fewer Tyvec wrapped plastic mushroom house developments in my humble opinion. Northview gardens are beautiful but not fussy. To me they are also a very British garden style, which I love.The gardens are seperated into what can only be described as different “rooms”, and like a well organized house, each garden room melds and flows into the next.But again, the gardens are narural and not fussy. They are gardens which beg you to explore down the next path, yet are so comfortable and welcoming. There are lots of seating areas. Lovely vintge and antique garden seating.And they have fabulous garden building structures like a she shed and a potting shed. You can always tell when gardens are created with love, and these gardens are no exception.

Once again, a lovely afternoon with the Delaware Valley Hosta Society.

a great garden related kind of day

A great kind of garden related day is when I end up with a few plants, a new gardening book, and hear a garden talk that truly resonates with me.

About two years ago I found out there was a Hosta society that serves our area. So I joined. The Delaware Valley Hosta Society. They meet a few times a year and life has gotten in the way until today where I finally was able to go to one of their meetings. Today was their spring meeting and they had a guest speaker I had wanted to meet, Jenny Rose Carey.

Ms. Carey is the Senior Director of Meadowbrook Farm , which is now a Pennsylvania Horticultural Society (“PHS”) site, but was once the home of Liddon Pennock.

Liddon Pennock was THE Philadelphia Florist once upon a time. My parents knew him, so I remember meeting him growing up. He created this amazing space which he left to PHS and his legacy continues. But I digress.

Jenny Rose Carey is a well known garden lecturer and she practices what she preaches at her own gardens (follow her on Instagram at Northview Garden or via her blog Before You Garden.)

She came today to the hosta Society meeting to speak on “Glorious Shade”. That is also the title of her new book on shade gardening available through Timber Press. (I was psyched to buy a copy and have the author autograph it for me!)

An approachable and engaging speaker, I was thrilled to learn that a lot of her favorite shade garden plants were also mine! She said with regard to shade gardening, that “slow and steady wins the race.” I was interested to hear that because I never really had a lot of shade gardening to do before we moved into this house. So I have learned in part by trial and error, but I was happy to learn that my gardening instincts have been good.

She went through a wonderful list of plants that are also good companions to hostas. Plants like:

  • Red bud
  • Eastern (native) dogwood
  • Fothergilla
  • Witch Hazel
  • Hydrangeas
  • Rhododendrons/ Azaleas
  • Asarum (wild ginger)
  • Ferns
  • Twinleaf
  • Bluebells
  • Mayapple
  • Trillium
  • Bloodroot
  • Hellebores
  • Heucheras

She also taught people how shade gardens are different. A lot of people expect shade gardens to be as neat and orderly as those sunny beds with all your sun loving flowers. But that is not how they work.

Shade gardening is so very different. It’s softer, it meanders. It’s not perfect and it evolves over time. Or, this is what I have learned over the past few years and really getting into it for the first time.

The ideal shade garden to me is something less formal, less structured. My gardens go into the woods. And I keep trash and what-not out of the woods and remove invasive plants like burning bush when they pop up, but for the most part I let my woods be. I don’t want to overly clean up my forest floor, because what hits the ground is sanctuary for critters and disintegrates into making good things for the soil (fallen leaves, etc.)

Forest floors weren’t meant to be completely tidy, and that was one thing that I got out of this lecture today and it made me glad that we were doing the right thing. I also protect the tree seedlings I find that will help keep my woods going. And some of those seedlings I transplanted into different areas of my garden – like the native dogwoods and volunteer Japanese Maples!

Ms. Carey also encouraged people to have little seating areas. Paths. Water features, as in even a birdbath.

I love hostas a bit excessively, as all my friends and family know. I’m a bit nutty about them. So it was kind of a kick to be in a room full of people that love hostas too! Plenty of the gardeners I met today were from Chester County and other deer heavy areas.

So today was a great day. While not actually in the garden much, I love having the opportunity to meet and spend time with other gardeners and listen to a great gardening lecture. I also came home with a new gardening book and four spectacular hostas!

Thanks for stopping by and happy gardening!