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.

summertime old school

DSC_7973When I was growing up, my parents and their friends threw and went to these awesome garden parties in the summer.  The kind of party that was lovely to look at, the people were nice and the ladies dressed in tasteful summer finery and the men were in madras,DSC_7738seersucker, and khaki. The kind of party where the food was good, the company interesting, a time so fun and pleasant and each hour flew by like it was five minutes.

Ok I finally found my adult equivalent: The Natural Lands Trust kickoff summer event, Stardust.

Natural Lands Trust, the region’s foremost conservation organization, protects the forests, DSC_8027fields, wetlands, and streams that are essential to the sustainability and quality of life in eastern Pennsylvania and southern New Jersey.

In other words, they don’t just talk a good game about preservation, they do it. And they are all extraordinarily nice people too. From staff to volunteers to trustees, these people are just terrific. It is so nice (and refreshing) to be around people who just so obviously love what they do.

This year’s Stardust was at Stroud Preserve in West Chester. If you have never been, go. It is so beautiful a place it takes your breath away with the sheer majesty of the surrounding landscape and vistas. It is over 500 acres of heavenly beauty.
DSC_8015The Natural Lands Trust applies  a comprehensive approach to conservation that includes permanently protecting natural areas, providing leadership in natural resource management, and creating opportunities for people to connect to and learn from nature.  They began in 1953 as the “Philadelphia Conservationists”. In the early days a lot of what they saved was then turned over to government agencies or other non-profits.  But in the 1960s they changed their course ever so slightly and became the stewards of the land and environments they were saving….and the Natural Lands Trust was born.
DSC_8078So this is a group so worthy of much generous support. You can see what they are doing, it is not some fuzzy hypothesis of ” if you donate X we will do Y”, it’s real, it’s tangible. DSC_7774
On Friday, June 12th – as the constellation Bootes (the “Celestial Farmer”), an ever-amazing Saturn, and a brightly-shining Jupiter graced the night sky  many gathered for an evening of cocktails, local farm-to-table edibles, at the 570-acre Stroud Preserve in West Chester.
The catering was done to perfection by Jeffrey Miller Catering and in addition to cocktails Moore Brothers was pouring some delightful wines (especially the rosé! )Terain did the decor and Victory Brewing Company also generously provided libations for guests.DSC_8062
The event itself was spread out so people had the ability to move around freely without feeling that you-are-nothing-but-a-lemming feeling that some non-profit events give you because too many are jammed into too small a space. This event was spread out and so civilized, like the summer garden parties I remember as a child. One special bit of fun DSC_8009that Natural Lands Trust provided guests in addition to the ability to star gaze by using one of the many fine telescopes set up was play a giant game of Jenga!
I had never been up and in the Stroud Preserve which was donated to Natural Lands Trust by Dr. Morris Stroud in 1990. This wildlife habitat is also a unique site for research by the Stroud Water Research Center, one of the premier stream research labs in North America.  And in addition there are also structures on this land which are fabulous and listed in the National Register of Historic Places.DSC_8037
I took a lot of event photos, and have shared a few in this post. But anyone who wants any needs to contact the Natural Lands Trust.  Because if people want photos I am NOT asking to be paid for them, I wish a donation to be made to the Natural Lands Trust for them. What they do is so very important.
And yes, these people throw fabulous events.  So many events these days are more hype than anything else. Their events are pretty, tasteful, and oh so much fun! (Click here for all event photos taken by me.)
Thanks for stopping by!

bucket lists in life

 Yesterday was kind of a big day for me. Yesterday was my fourth anniversary of my breast cancer surgery and being cancer free. Yesterday was also the day I checked another item off my bucket list.

When you have to look at your own mortality with a cancer diagnosis, you create a bucket list whether you acknowledge it or not. Because that is a defining moment in your life- you literally have to decide and very short order whether you want to fight to live or give it all up. I chose life. It sounds like I’m being overly dramatic but it’s kind of how it is. It’s very daunting to be told you have cancer.

And the oddest thing about having gone through breast cancer and breast  cancer treatment is that it freed me to do things I only dreamed  about. 

The other truth of the matter is is that I am also very lucky and very blessed to have a man and life partner who loves me and supports me for who I am. I didn’t have that before. Before him and before breast-cancer, the version of “supportive”  I lived with was having a person who put me down and put my dreams down. And as long as I towed their defined line and existed where they were comfortable everything was fine.

But life is a precious gift and it is too short to be held back by those who are in essence people who lead  very sad and uncomfortable lives. Life is about growing and changing, and sometimes people have a hard time with that. I get it. But I’m really glad that as I got a second chance at life post breast cancer that I have taken that chance to try new things and grow as a person with the support of an amazing love and the support of my family and friends as well.

When I started to take photos it was with a tiny point and shoot camera that was very basic. Eventually I moved up to larger and more grown-up cameras. I started seconding occasionally for a professional photographer when she needed help and she taught me a lot and encouraged me to keep shooting. 

Along with this apprenticeship of sorts, through the years I did the publicity and photography for First Friday Main Line, the Executive Director Sherry Tillman (who is also a dear and close friend as well as an artist in her own right and owner of a wonderful shop called Past*Present*Future) was the first person who encouraged me to show my work and enter photography contests.

So my love for photography has grown, and it ties into the things I love in life.  I don’t pretend to be an Annie Liebovitz, I am just me. I love taking my photos of Chester County and elsewhere, ordinary moments of everyday life that I find magical – farms, nature, gardens,everyday people, animals, pets.

And on my bucket list as a somewhat improbable item was having a solo photography show and as of yesterday I kind of checked that item off my list. I am the local artist of the month at Christopher’s in Malvern. Yes, it is a restaurant, but those are my photos on the wall and it is just a really cool feeling and such a positive milestone as we hung them up on the 4th anniversary of me being cancer – free. So maybe it’s not some fancy art gallery with the champagne and caviar reception, but it suits me just fine. 

I am thrilled to have been asked to do this! I love the restaurant and the owners are super nice and so is the staff.

If you want to see my photography and live in Pennsylvania, the images will hang the month of June at Christopher’s A Neighborhood Place on King Street in the Borough of Malvern. Go have a cocktail or a meal and I hope you like the photos!

Four years. Here I am looking forward. Get your mammograms ladies.

Have a great day!

portrait of a climber

DSC_3481This is our arborist, Robert Phipps. At the top of our giant beech this morning. hundreds of feet up. He loves what he does and it shows.  How cool is that?


this winter in photos


I am pleased to offer my next book available through Blurb.  It is basically nature through my camera lens this winter.  There is a book preview for your convenience.  Blurb books make unique one of a kind gifts or a pretty treat for yourself, especially if you love photography.

Try any of the following coupons/discount codes at checkout to save on your order:


SAVE15% (first time purchasers only)



(Please note Blurb’s coupons often have a mixed bag review as far as shelf life.  These are the ones I know that are working as I write this post)