Friday, June 21, 2013


With this time off work, Bob and I decided we wanted to take a trip to Winterthur.  It's been 40 years since I've been there and he's never been.  I was surprised to see it so very close to Longwood Gardens and easy to get from one to the other!  Winterthur is just across the Delaware border, maybe 5 miles from Longwood.  This time we went mainly for the garden.  Our tickets are good for two days, so we'll be going there again for the house and museum.

The grounds are stunning!  Even though they are in a warmer zone than us, and all the spring flowers were spent, the ground were shady and inviting and full of texture.  There were some flowers, but most of the summer flowers haven't begun yet.

 The meadow at Winterthur is large and lush with paths meandering through it.
 It looks like a lonely gazebo standing in the middle of a grassy plain, but we were told that early spring that grassy plain is a field of blue crocus which were just recently finished with their spring bloom.  A reason to go even earlier in the season.  All the azalea, rhododendron and other spring flowers were done when we were there.
 The house is incredible!  Just the massive size of it needs to be seen to be appreciated.  The conservatory here is small compared to Longwood Garden with it's massive conservatories, but it is sufficient.  Henry DuPont designed and built the house around the lay of the land.  It is 6 stories high, but 2 of the stories are underground.  He built the house so as not to disturb the natural slope of the land.  There is also a stream that he bridged the house over rather than try to change the flow of the water.
This is a two-tier Koi pond that is fed by a small run-off from the patios.  The patios are quite high up the side of a bank which lends perfectly to the tiny run-off.  The patios of the house are shady and inviting with Bristol tables and chairs overlooking the Koi pond and reflecting pool.
The reflecting pool is banked on each side by a pool house, one for the men and one for the women, which was the style of the day.
 One of the pool houses.

I couldn't leave this post without a view of one of the areas of the museum.  We didn't do much in the house this time but plan on going back since the tickets are good for another trip there.  This time will be for the house and museum.  It really does take more than one day just for the grounds, but I'm thinking it'll take just as long for the museum as well. 

Thursday, May 30, 2013

Sunday, April 14, 2013

Snow Fountain Cherry

Snow Fountain Cherry
I was watching the news Friday when WGAL had their little 2 minute excerpt from "The Garden Guy" a local nursery man for a larger nursery in the area.  He was talking about the Bradford Pear and how it shouldn't be planted any longer.  He talked about this pear tree and the Cleveland pear because they are in bloom right now.  My question is - Why would he talk about the many other lovely trees that are in bloom or coming into bloom right now that are beautiful in people's gardens such as the Sow Fountain Cherry shown here.  This tree is not only lovely but has a wonderful fragrance and encourages the early pollinators.  The pear trees smell like, in my opinion, dead fish and draw in flies that it needs for pollination.

It took me a couple of tries before I found a tree that could tolerate the somewhat soggy conditions I have in this spot.  It's not a wet spot, but has a tendency to flood when we get heavy rains.  The Snow Fountain Cherry does especially well in this spot and is helped by a larger honey locust on the east side of the walk.  For years now, this spot has been acceptable as the trees help to keep it from getting to soggy.    It will tolerate drier spots as well as the moist one I have mine in but will not grow as quickly.

The only problem I see with the Snow Fountain Cherry is that the bloom time is too short.  Usually it's soggy and rainy when the tree is in bloom in early April and the temperatures are cool and raw.  It's sometimes hard to get out and see how beautiful this tree is or how wonderful it smells when the temps are so raw.  But for the past couple of years I've been able to do just that.  It would be best as a ornamental in the front garden where all folks driving past your home could see and appreciate it.  If you do plant one near your home, give it some room as it will get wider as it grows.  I have this one planted about 15 feet away from the house at an angle which gives it plenty of room right now.  I would suggest maybe 20 feet as it would give you no problem at all, even as it gets wider. 

Usually with grafted weepers as this one, they don't grow much taller than what they are when you purchase them so be selective and choose one that would fit where you want to put it height wise.

After the flowers fade, the tree gets covered with tiny cherries that are black.  No fear, the cherries won't last the summer on the tree.  I usually see it covered with birds feasting on the cherries until they are all gone.  I especially love those Waxwings that swoop in, gorge, and swoop out when the cherries are gone.  I have several flocks of Waxwings that make my garden a daily stop for the summer and fall.  I have a lot of native trees that provide the berries and fruit they so desire.  I have two Serviceberries which provide a lovely red berry that I don't see very much (because of the birds), two Chokecherries, Winter King Hawthorn, Spice bush, Winterberry, Crabapple, Dogwood and several different varieties of Viburnum.  There are other plants and trees that provide food even for the winter birds if left stand over the winter months.  But I digress. 

The Snow Fountain Cherry is one of the most beautiful trees that provides interest for the garden for all four seasons.  Early spring (now) it blooms a lovely white with a wonderful fragrance.  Summer it has a nice green color with the black cherries and autumn it is a lovely bronze color.  Winter it shows it's structure with the hanging branches.  It is one I recommend for a showy area that might be a little on the wet side, but not boggy.

Friday, October 12, 2012

The Gateway Lodge - Our Cooks Forest Adventure cont.

The Gateway Lodge - where we stayed.
This life size sculpture greets you as you enter the lodge grounds.
When you enter the rustic building, you first come to the office where you check in.  It's a quaint little area without a lot of room and is well separated from the main lodge guest area above.  There was always someone there wrapped in those huge soft chairs reading books.  Opposite the large windows of the two story room was where the wood burning fireplace crackled constantly.  This was an utterly gorgeous place that was well kept and highly maintained with the best you could ask for.  Wi-fi was available in this room only.  The rest of the lodge wasn't privy to Internet or cell phones.  Breakfast coffee and fruit was served there every morning for the early risers.
The lodge also had a very high class gourmet restaurant.  We had our breakfast of fruit, eggs over easy with a slice of whole grain, homemade bread, choice of apple sausage, again homemade, apple bacon, juice, coffee and homefries.  Breakfast came with our package.
For dinner it was dinner for two, with choice of entrees, a salad made of spouts, grass shoots, dandelion leaves, nasturtium flowers and green apples thinly sliced, covered with a lovely oil and cheese curd.  A tomato bisque laced with worcestershire sauce which gave it a wonder zing and a fried mushroom appetizer and apple crisp ala mode drizzled with caramel.  They also served a lovely wild mushroom soup that not only rivals Longwood Gardens, but passes it with flying colors!  My new favorite mushroom soup!
They were proud that all their food was organically grown and in season.
Down the hall from the guest main lodge was a hall way that housed a lovely billiards room seen below and a wonderful massage spa with products that are very lovely.  We also got them in our room.  The TV in the billiards room was the only TV and it was a nice one over the fireplace in that room.  Who wanted to watch TV anyway?

The rooms were just as rustic as the rest of the lodge, but each suite had a fireplace, whirlpool to ease those tired muscles as well as the usual shower.  It was a lovely room.  The whole place was 4*** all the way.

There are few places we've been that Bob made it known that he was planning on returning.  This is one he said that about over and over again.  It was a really great place to spend time.  This is my kind of camping.

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Our Cook's Forest Adventure

For the first time in 10 years, we finally had some time off together and I used it making reservations to Cooks Forest.  We had first heard about this ancient forest, the only one in the US that is protected from logging and mineral depletion from a Harvard Professor at Longwood Gardens in March.

Since we arrived at the Lodge several hours early, we used the time with a hike through the old forest and to the tower to view the entire Allegheny forest.  We were there at a good time (autumn) and the day was beatuiful and sunny.  Perfect for taking pictures.  We stayed at a lovely century old lodge within walking distance of the Clarion River.  It was a beautiful area.

I've always been told that to have a healthy forest it must be managed and logged.  So much for the infinite knowlege of mankind.  In this ancient and beautiful forest, there was a place for life as well as death.  In death, these majestic beautiful trees were covered with moss and lichens.  In the crevice of this old dead trunk, a fern finds shelter and grows nicely.  Other dead trees littered the forest floor providing a place for moss, insects and tiny creatures and sometimes almost hidden by the masses of forest ferns that shared the floor with moss.

The eco system of this incredible place was unchallenged and left to be tended the way it was meant to be tended.  Not by human hand but by the Hand of God, and left in the care of Mother Nature.

Friday, September 14, 2012

Diamond Hills Pretty Boy Little Brat
He came to live with us July 3rd, 2003 at the age of 3 years.  He passed away this past Monday, September 10 at the age of 13 years.  I just hope he was happy while he was with us.  He was a devoted member of the family, never one to run or chase, but was by out side to the end.

Saturday, August 18, 2012

An Unusual Butterfly

For the past six weeks, I've been pretty much laid up with a bum knee.  I twisted it somehow and am only now able to be on it.  I was out in the garden today and found a beautiful unusual butterfly there that just screamed to have it's picture taken.  It is an Acadian  Hairstreak.  According to information I could find on it, even though it is within it's range, we are at nearly the lowest end of it's regions.

I also understand from reading about this beautiful butterfly that the willow is a host plant for it.  I've never seen this stunning butterfly in my garden before and am glad that I have all the elements it needs to live here.

Nature never ceases to amaze me.