Thursday, September 1, 2016

Meadowbrook Farm's Exquisite Display Gardens

As this long, hot summer winds down, I look back on a fantastic season that included an abundance of gardening, sharing my garden, giving information about gardening in speaking engagements and newspaper articles, and visiting exquisite gardens like those at Meadowbrook Farm in Jenkintown, Pennsylvania. I spent time there following the Pennsylvania Master Gardeners' Conference at the end of June. This former estate of renowned plant enthusiast J. Liddon Pennock, Jr. is now a nonprofit affiliate of the Pennsylvania Horticultural Society. We were fortunate to tour house, gardens and garden center under the guidance of Meadowbrook Farm's director, Jenny Rose Carey. The previous day, the last day of the conference, Jenny Rose gave a wonderful talk about shade gardening. I was drawn to her immediately, not only because of her knowledge and enthusiasm, but also because like me she is an English ex-pat.

First on the tour, Jenny Rose showed us around the ground floor of the house. Designed by architect Robert McGoodwin in the English Cotswold style, the house was given to Pennock and his wife, Alice, as a wedding gift by Alice's parents.  The rooms are somewhat quirky in their decoration exemplifying Pennock's eccentric personality. Rich details are abundant inside and outside the house.

There were impressive houseplants and flower arrangements throughout.

The rooms open onto garden rooms -- outdoor living spaces. There are 15 small gardens in all. I didn't have a favorite, loving the formal statuary and the sense of enclosure created by walls, wrought iron fences and boxwood hedges in each area. 

Note the plants on the edge of the roof in this garden room. (Click on the picture to enlarge it.)
The Eagle Garden
Beautiful symmetry.
I saw Sea Holly Eryngium in several places I visited this summer -- need to get some.
The formal swimming pool.
Alice's private swimming pool.
Love the use of caladium in the borders.

Along one path a lovely grouping of potted plants disguised an area of damaged brick edging. I admired this clever use of container plantings. (My next posting will show my 2016 containers.)

Varied textures and shades of green make a great display and hide flaws.

Jenny Rose led the group into the shade garden which I found particularly stunning. Jenny's forthcoming book, to be published by Timber Press, is about shade gardening. Can't wait to read it.

Jenny Rose tells us about the shade garden plantings.

One of the best parts of visiting gardens is acquiring great ideas to take home. I particularly liked the soft mounds of Hakone Grass Hakonechloa macra 'All Gold.'

Japanase Forest Grass or Hakone Grass Hakonechloa macra 'All Gold.'

I decided to add some to my shade garden because I love the cascading foliage. I had several spaces caused when the shade garden became a part-shade garden with the removal of the silver maple. I planted the grasses in groups of three.

My decimated 'shade' garden -- looking a little fuller with new plantings.

After touring the house and gardens it was time to explore the fabulous garden center. There were unusual plants, flowering baskets, trees and shrubs. Of course I was like a kid in a candy shop.

This was my friend's purchase -- she beat me to it. I think it's Echinacia paradoxa.

I settled for an unusual double hollyhock that I felt would enhance my English cottage garden. I purchased a cute stone turtle for H.H. He placed it by the pond.

Stone turtle and frogs plus a real frog -- can you see it?

Four weeks later I was delighted to welcome Jenny Rose to my garden. She came for tea, of course, so I served cucumber sandwiches, scones and raspberry trifle on the patio. I enjoyed her visit so very much. I learned a lot from this very knowledgeable lady about plants in my garden, garden design and about writing a book.

Jenny Rose Carey in Pam's Cottage Garden

My thanks to Jenny Rose for motivating me to use my DSL camera, so that I am no longer afraid of it, and to buckle down and WRITE. Thanks also for the beautiful hibiscus that is giving me endless pleasure with its prolific, pale lavender-colored blooms. This is one of Meadowbrook Farm's most unusual and extremely beautiful plants. I am thrilled with it.

Hibiscus Hibiscus rosa-sinensis hybrid 'Cajun Blue'

This was a great summer for me, dear fellow gardeners and bloggers. What about yours? Did you visit any private or public gardens?

Enjoy the rest of the summer if you are in the Northern Hemisphere and have a wonderful new gardening season if you live in hotter climes.

Pamela x

~~ I love reading your comments. I hope you leave one so I’ll know you visited!
I look forward to visiting your blog in return.


  1. Hi Pam! What a lovely garden. Thank you for sharing it with us. I very much enjoyed the gardens at Penn State this summer, and this reminds me that I still need to write the second installment about them. Also, there is a beautiful garden at a summer stock playhouse in Forestburgh, New York, which is about an hour's drive from my house. I want to write a post about that as well.

    The petal shape makes me think that the flower your friend chose might be a Gaillardia rather than Echinacea. I have several in my garden, and they are powerhouse bloomers, all summer long!

    I planted one sea holly in my rock garden early this summer. Something (probably woodchuck) nibbled on it almost immediately, but it is bouncing back now and seems to have been left alone since the first tasting. It's tiny, still--we'll see what it does next year.

    Great to see you on the blog circuit again!

  2. What a wonderful garden to visit and how lovely that Jenny Rose paid you a visit too. I really like sea holly but it's something I've never grown myself. I like the echinacia, you were too slow there, you should have wrestled it from your friend's arms.

  3. What an amazing place. Thank you for sharing it with us.

  4. the sea holly with your new hibiscus?
    Both in unusual and refreshing colours!

    1. You are right, Diana. The two would make a stunning combination.

  5. This place looks quite British, so I bet you felt right at home once again!

  6. I enjoyed this tour, and love the formal gardens. It was nice to have Jenny Rose visit your beautiful gardens also.

  7. I love the pictures you posted. Two of my favorite things is visiting gardens and taking drives looking at old houses.