mounds of azaleas, mock orange, lilacs (or a butterfly bush), ornamental grasses, lavender, daylilies, heather, and hostas along an old cobbled path… a gardener’s dream is to have this dense mixture of constant evolving blooms with a look as if it had been there for centuries.

they say opposites attract…and so it is with stonework and iron…they are a perfect compliment and contrast to flowers and foliage… rough angles, texture and rigid structure against soft, willowy billows of curving color.

i need to figure out what the red-leaf shrub is…

…just look at the flowering hostas though…hugging the solid, squared stones…i like the bench where i could rest and think… and the tiny lil patch of herb at the center as if we had journeyed off to an ancient estate in England(leaves too tiny for mint so i would guess thyme, sage or basil though my right eye still cannot discern something quite so small).

<—–take me right there (an old Italian villa) climbing vines and gardenia planters. look at the wrought iron rail, weathered planks and stones (is that a drainage hole in the stair wall?)

and these climbing vines? if it were really Italy, they would be grape vines…would we have enough to make our own wine and grape pies?

look at them creeping up the walls and tangling over the marble columns… the wrought iron table for two looks cozy, but in reality, it would probably heat up and burn at touch in the summer sun…still and all…it, the stone patio, stone based pillars and potted annuals make this look like an intimate retreat after a long day…maybe you could pour a glass or two of that wine…

[tired…i’ve been doing this in sections…but tire so easily. going to try and close my eyes to sleep now…was just trying to make my own version of  an old fat dog and holding hands on a soft beach…trying to hold something comforting…trying to find the pretty]

yeah…this one reminds me of  […]

diagonal stones (up against a darker stone frame) make this expand as if this oasis could go on forever.  i like the balcony-like border, the greenery and the endless hillside views […]

sweet peas among the flowering evergreen shrubs (i cant recall the name, but they have tiny pink and white flowers in the late spring) and trees…standing opposite of a simple brick row path…

though i must say that the hydrangea (a real science experiment as their color changes from white, pink, purple and blue based on the PH) and hosta garden in the back of the Canyon house nearly made the place worth the price […]

i love the big clusters of tiny flowers found in hydrangeas and snowball bushes

still doesnt that distant breezeway look inviting?  (i am not crazy about the wicker furniture in the picture though…it squeaks when sat upon…and who wants to hear their every move announced by cracking and rubbing twigs?)

a mosiac… ok…interesting though i’m  not sure i like on this particular garden path…the color seems to detract from the very busy flowers …maybe if it were in neutral tones. it’s just that it is a mosiac… that is what caught my eye…it reminded me of the kitchen wall i once had. those daring ideas i once tried fearlessly when i was pregnant.

the garden itself?  now we’re just challenging my eyes…i think this is a July garden though the small purple stalks appear to be grape hyacinth and not delphiniums (which grow far too tall to be placed in the front edge) the red-orange flowers may be poppies, but i’m guessing from the scale of the bloom that they are more probably gaillardia (though again the mounds, like stalks of delphinium and lupine, can begin at 12′ and grow taller and i like gaillardia near black eyed susans, daisies, and coneflowers backed by hollyhocks…they are the perfect butterfly and hummingbird attractions) the yellow in the picture is most likely coreopsis, with the smaller flowers at bottom left being flowering sedum  (ok…maybe not…did i mention i cant really see the detail in this all that clearly?)

here a cascade of morning glories climbs to the top of an arbor/trellis reaching to kiss the sun…i like these September flowers, but cant decided whether i would prefer clemitis or wisteria (the flower of the victoria age)…honeysuckle is pretty too, but it’s super-sweet smell tickles my nose…it is the only scent in the garden that can routinely make me sneeze, so it should be avoided along with the brash and husked-bark trumpet vine…aside from the plant sometimes causing a skin reaction similar to poison ivy…i dislike orange and would use it in moderation in my landscape)…oh, but do you see again the stone walls and steps? all lovely and better when together

this is how i pictured the Penfield place…4 acres but most of it woodland (a lovely privacy bumper on a cul de sac)…except i wanted to reclaim a portion…one of those “lifetime projects” my grandpa always talk about…the kind you wittle away at over time. i could envision the tiered terraces of stone retaining walls… paths, steps and plantings which would expand the yard well beyond what most people could see…retaining walls and labyrinth gardens that slowly walked their way to wooded paths steeped to the gorge below. there would be plants such as hostas, amsonia, periwinkle, lily of the valley, phlox and ferns, perhaps peonies and gaillardia if there were no hazardous pines nearby, and perennial flowers like primrose, bleeding heart, and foxglove would be pretty .

i like the worn look…like an old farmhouse with a chicken coop out back.  i’m sure a wiser person would tell me that, though these pieced stones look pretty, the heaving and thawing  of the ground from NY winters would make it near impossible to maintain…

ok…a path of pea gravel is not the most practical (especially when you have small boys to use it as ammo or a lawmower that would throw it up into and shatter a few windows), but this one does look pretty

ooo…look at the pretty color stones below!! well of course they arent real stones…they are dyed and stamped concrete […] i love how this one winds and the pretty colors that lead away from the patio…the center spot has been prepped for a small tree…perhaps a Japanese maple to bring out the burgundy and purple or a small flowering tree…red bud? dog wood?


i like the color in the garden to the left and like grandma’s it could so easily be maintained with a mix of late spring to fall plantings. the mounds of color, when mulched properly can keep the weeding to a minimum…again with the aged stone, soften by the thyme or timothy (?) peeking through the cracks. it’s a secluded floral haven except for one thing…doesnt that wooden chair…aged and solitaire…look a bit lonely. come sit by the garden with me (or on the bench at Westminster and Park with Lilly and i)…gardens are meant to be peaceful but not lonely and (barring any extended allergic reaction) their beauty should be shared…upon a bench built for two…quiet and restful…with head leaned against your shoulder.



look at the dark wood against that stone wall. i like cathedral windows…our former house had them…again…curves softening rough, crude edges… a perfect match…always! note how the stones are in varigated colors… i am not so complicated to please. stones crafted together of varying colors appear to me like antique quilts that were once pieced together from a lifetime of worn materials.

i love antiques… wooden furniture and quilts mainly… sofas should be leather, mattresses and box springs should be new, but antiques warm a home and have such wonderful stories to tell

if Lilly and i had kept the house i would have liked to have someone design one of these…hidden amongst my wimpy pines at the back of the house and churning its way toward the pool. your own lil waterfall. no mountainous climb involved. i like the large elephant-leaf greenery in and around ferns and azealas…the mountains of odd textured rock that serve as frame but also look natural as if they had been placed by God or worn by nature instead of arranged in neat tidy rows by man (no one told those rocks to line up by height in gym class). yep, gotta say i like the whole meandering look of this waterfall…kinda reminds my of my driving skill (no real sense of direction)…because life is not perfect and orderly…it gathers in some areas and waits then moves forward…no command, no great urgency and no expectation…(and if…in your wandering…you’re lucky enough to have a moment in the presence of something so breath-takingly beautiful…you were the lucky one)











true…it would be difficult to keep a curious set of boys off this…a daredevils leap from slippery rocks always sounds so much more fun than it ends up being…but still…it is pretty. couldnt you picture it at the edge of a pond or bridging two ponds? and the ferns and Russian Smoke Tree at it’s back make it look like something right out of Indiana Jones, right?

 ooo…i know a mason whose talent and skill would make this look effortless. maybe he’d make something like this for me. look at the intricate border rimmed with real stone…just right for edging a pool or a pond…but more importantly…look at the compass rose (i have no sense of direction)

LILLIES! (things you may not have known…one July day i was seated on a bench in what appeared to be the only park on Park Ave admiring a garden of daylilies when something inside me made me suddenly look toward the road. there he was…in his red truck. i text or called (not really sure which i was in shock for seeing him) and we made plans to meet. 


when i found out i was pregnant a few months later… he had found an apt near that spot (he said it was for us) and though i had always thought i’d name her Savannah (after the first place he wanted to take me)…i thought of the stories he told me of his own mother, and that garden spot of almost…of all the wonderful things he said my Wegmans family gave us for our first place…and i knew…she, like his mom, would be named for a flower (he came up with the spelling…he gave my Lilly her name…smiles).

how about a Japanese Tea Garden? slower waterfall, but the impression is still breathtakingly beautiful…serene… meditative. maybe we could even stock the pond with koi. give Lilly a chance to dream about an underwater world and singing mermaids? i’m sure Russell would enjoy it too until she realized the fish were bigger than her.








the house could never be near the interior pond on South Hill for fear of leaks and spoiling the dug foundation. the driveway needed to be moved so that the house could be placed across the way near the old tree… a large L-shape porch looking out over the edge of forever towards the water, the sun and the valley below each day.

and there from the porch swing, the children could be seen…bare toes tempting the water’s edge…or closer still a picnic gazebo wound with twinkling christmas lights for late night picnics under the stars… next to a trickling fountain or flowing waterfall (because mosquitoes breed only in still water)…though i would like a section of lilypads in the other pond so each night there would be a soft lullabye of crickets and frogs.

surround us with country and wildflowers…daisies, buttercups, wild snapdragons, queen anne’s lace, cornflowers and lavender…the fragrant and cool country  breeze wafting through billowing lace curtains at the kitchen window where we can listen for the slow popping sound of your tires pulling up on the stone drive and look up to see the evening sun glint off the pickup’s


the Public Market was open today and Stephen was kind enough to take us there…stall after stall of homegrown produce and flower baskets. it also surprised me how many of the neighborhoods in and around such a large city have made room for tiny corner gardens […reminds me of the one on Park and Westminster…which i was never really sure was a public garden or a private garden…it always felt silly that in the entire span of Park Ave there was no actual “park”]

we took it all in for only a moment…quite calming after a day spent at Temple Hospital’s ER and a night spent sleeping in a chair.

oh the endless and ancient stonework everywhere…absolutely beautiful…wish you could have seen the hard and rough grays soothed by soft velvety petals of color. i wish i had the life that allowed me to follow those stones where ever they led. i would have…

the fall colors are in…mums, daisiesblack eyed susans, and asters…even the rosa sharon’s are in full bloom everywhere and the last blazes of color reflecting off of the Schuylkill River look like a rippling sunset silently sliced by the shadowy crew teams are truly enchanting.

the fall garden show is next weekend at the Navy Yard. if we are still about we may go.