I had some time this afternoon and had to make quick stops at Kimberton Whole Foods and Up Home, so I stopped in.
Ok so….it’s a super fun spot and I look forward to checking out an event soon! I met Gemma and she was so nice to just let me wander around and snap a few photos.
I think this will be a fun spot and I envision many DIY events that will bring more folks into Malvern Borough. And because it is arts and crafts centric maybe Malvern Borough should start thinking in terms of arts events and sidewalk sale days. The festivals are great fun, but there is so much more you could do.
What would be really cool would to bring arts and music together and involve the merchants, and galleries, but I digress.
My friends will tell you I am not a chalk paint person but other kinds of crafts? Like what is being offered at AR Workshop in Malvern? That sounds fun!
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.
People should garden more. A lot of my friends garden in addition to myself, but today we are the exception rather than the rule. (And yes I know I am garden obsessed.)
People either don’t make the time, or are happy with what the developer regurgitated and called landscaping. Or they have someone do their “gardening” for them. They miss all the pleasure having a garden and actually getting your hands dirty brings.
Television shows on HGTV show all instant outdoor “rooms” with lots of hardscaping and a fire pit. They no longer actually show you how to create and maintain a garden with plants other than from the home improvement store chains.
People who don’t garden miss so much. They miss seeing a daylily become a sport of itself and give you a more exotic double ruffled version of itself.
They miss actual bees lingering in the bee balm before they check out the lavender. They miss the morning and evening songs of the birds who live in and around the garden and the pleasure of watching a rose flower for the first time and how an old fashioned favorite like lisianthus never fails to disappoint.
When you garden you smile at the everyday happy composure of the average garden daisy, and how wonderful the perfume of scented geraniums and lavender are together.
An Irish friend of mine told me last week that my garden reminded her of Irish cottage gardens. I can think of no greater compliment.
Gardening is good for what ails you if not anything else. Gardening just makes you happy ! Not mowing the lawn to exacting precision, but actual get dirt on your hands, digging in the dirt gardening.
People should garden more. And supporting your local and independent nursery and garden center also benefits your local economy.
But back to fun: so there is a nursery which took over the old Potters on Paoli Pike called Woodlawn Landscaping and Nursery. They also have a location in Chadds Ford.
We drove in not knowing what to expect and not only did I find everything I needed yesterday but the people were friendly and knowledgable and the prices were more than reasonable. This nursery is a throw back to the ones I loved when I was younger: loaded with good plant material and doesn’t have a cafe and gift shop in the middle of it. Sorry, but I am an old school gardener – I make my own coffee and when I want a gift shop I will visit one. When I want plants, I visit a nursery.
Visit Woodlawn Landscaping and Nursery in Malvern at 359 Paoli Pike. Their phone is 610-647-1300. Visit Somerset Nursery in Glenmore at 1697 Pottstown Pike. If you decide to visit them because of this blog post, tell them that you saw them on chestercountyramblings. And no, they do not compensate me for writing about them.
But seriously people, it’s time to get your gardening on. I know a lot of you out there think gardening means it is done by other people but in your yard, but truly, that’s not it.
Get out there, dig in the dirt. Create. Get messy. Get dirt under your nails you can always get a manicure. It’s good for you and fun! I started gardening early as a little girl with my father. He introduced me to my love of roses and two gardens ago I had 67 different varieties (until the then new homeowner tore them out). As a matter of fact, many MANY moons ago I wrote a couple of articles for the American Rose Society on rose gardening. One still exists and you can read it by CLICKING HERE.
Feel free to share your favorite local Chester County plant sources with me as well and happy gardening!!!