The Hare Sculpture at Stoneleigh has been an icon of the Villanova neighborhood for decades before opening to the public. This sculpture is made from a white oak trunk and features two adult rabbits and 5 young rabbits representing the Haas family. The rabbits frequently dress up for holidays and special occasions. Haas means Hare in Dutch and German.
Mother’s Day weekend, the southeastern PA region, already teeming with more than 30 public gardens, welcomed the newest public horticulture space to the map.
Stoneleigh: A Natural Garden is also under threat of eminent domain. Perhaps one of the biggest blows to a public garden is a letter just prior to a grand opening regarding a school district’s intention to condemn a portion or the entirety of the gardens for ball fields and a new middle school.
The current rallying cry for Stoneleigh as it’s future is threatened by eminent domain.
Like the Henry Schmieder Arboretum, these gardens are open and free to the public to explore year-round. Unlike the gardens at Del Val, these gardens began as the gardens of a residence , that was later turned into Bucks County Community College and public garden space.
Another view of the Tyler Mansion
This formal garden features multiple levels or formal displays and the art work of Stella Tyler, the owner of the home and an avid gardener herself.
The tiers of the Tyler Formal Garden
Though I went to school not far from here and worked in the area for a couple of years, I had not been to this garden before.
What is now Delaware Valley University began as the National Farm School in 1896.
Forty acres of the main campus of Delaware Valley College (ahem… I mean UNIVERSITY, old habits, I am an alum) comprise the Henry Schmieder Arboretum. As are many college and university arboreta and botanical gardens, this is open for exploration throughout the year and free of charge and serves dual purpose as public garden and living classroom.
The Entrance to Delaware Valley University
One of the 36 garden members of Greater Philadelphia Gardens, the gardens are a mix of landscapes around historic and new campus buildings and specific garden spaces around the grounds. As you wander through campus you will find a Peony and Iris Garden. It seems we had perfect timing to see irises and tree peonies in bloom on our May 12 stroll. You will also find here a Winter Walk, Annuals Garden, the Oak Woods, the Martin Brooks Conifer Garden, an Herb Garden, Beech Collection and a Rock Garden.
A Tree Peony blooms in the Iris and Peony Garden
While named for a 40-year faculty member from the early 1920’s in 1966, the Arboretum was an important part of the campus from its inception 70 years prior. As a student earning my BS in Ornamental Horticulture I valued the opportunity to learn about the plants by feeling them, smelling them and observing them in many seasons.
With more than 30 public gardens within 30 miles of the city, Philadelphia is America’s Garden Capital. My hunny and I have a goal to visit them all this year. We began this adventure with an early spring visit to Fairmount Park.
Our first stop was Shofuso. The area occupied by this house and landscape has been dedicated to Japanese Culture and garden design since the 1876 Centennial Exposition. Both the garden and the house are open for exploration.
Snug Harbor Cultural Center and Botanic Garden is located on the northeastern corner of Staten Island. According to their website: this is “One of the largest ongoing adaptive reuse projects in America, Snug Harbor consists of 28 buildings, fourteen distinctive botanical gardens, a two acre urban farm, wetlands and park land on a unique, free, open campus.” It certainly is a model for how other urban places can work with their aging infrastructure to create an important and vibrant space.
Just some of the historic architecture to be found at Snug Harbor.
This is a great place to visit because it has something for everyone – plants and gardens, historic architecture and visual and performing arts.
I visited on a spontaneous trip to Staten Island to visit my sister for breakfast and decided since I was in the area I would stop in and explore the gardens. I enjoy visiting gardens in ‘off-seasons’ to see what I can find of interest, admire the bold little blossoms blooming in the cold, and to admire the bones of the gardens. Thrillingly, this spring is coming slowly, allowing a gentle wave of flowers throughout the early months of the year rather than one glorious tsunami of everything blooming at one time.
While I tend to find the fall colors of the native trees and shrubs here in the Northeast and Mid-Atlantic region something I cannot live without and something that makes me endlessly happy and at peace, others see the changing colors as the sure sign that winter is coming. They can’t enjoy the autumn display because all of those falling leaves depressingly morph into falling snowflakes as they watch them twirl down from the canopy.
As fall proceeds into its second month some lament the end of the growing season, putting away gloves and cleaning tools. Seed catalogs and garden magazines are piled up next to the couch for winter reading. People start to prepare for winter hibernation.
When it is time to sculpt pumpkins, people tend to think less about gardens and gardening as the changing of seasons leads us to think less about watering and weeds and more about turkey stuffing and present wrapping.
But for those of us who enjoy the seasons, who want to explore wherever and whenever, I encourage fall and winter visits to gardens. Perhaps you have a friend or loved one who isn’t so much into gardening but likes to get outside. Drag them to a public garden or museum with outdoor sculptures. You as a gardener, or plant admirer, or nature admirer will find sculptures that will fill the gardening void in the fall and winter months. Some of my favorites from my horticulture travels are here.