Last month, while visiting in New York we came across a wonderful patch of Hollyhocks not far from the shores of Lake Ontario. The patch was about 50 feet of assorted hollyhocks and daylilies. Hollyhocks are plants either do great or wither and die before making a substantial contribution. These plants were magnificent! They stood about six to eight feet tall and were all in bloom. My friend RJ was trying to coax similar plants in his new garden in Rochester. His were only a few inches tall! Somewhere between Rochester and this spot near the Niagara Peninsula there was magic afoot. Looking slightly behind were even more wonderful plants in an even greater bounty: Queen Anne Cherries.
Three Cherry trees stood by the side of the road neighboring what was a residential area in the middle of farmland. These trees were ready to explode with fruits and were just ripe for eating. Upon closer inspection we came across the owner of the property stuck up in a latter harvesting his bounty. Quick to react to the tourist we were he offered to sell us some. Our host was an 86 year old gentleman farmer. Born and raised in the region and doing what he liked best: farming! Before too long we had shared some tales of travel and gardens and we were off with multiple bags of fresh perfectly grown and ripe Queen Anne Cherries.
The return trip home continued along the shores of Lake Ontario to Rochester's Ontario Beach Park to discover another of Philadelphia's Carousel playing its role for the Summer Season. As you can see few people were enjoying its dizzying magic of going round and round to an old fashioned calliope.
My greatest adventure was a quick visit to the George Eastman House (founder of Eastman Kodak). The visit was to be very fast as the rest of our visitors marched to the beat of their stomachs. Thankfully, my friend RJ, who knows of my love of great old house gardens, insisted we take a quick walk around the house. The results were as marvelous as they were short. As it was past 7 there was no one around and we literally had the site to ourselves. The house is (I dread to say it) a Colonial Revival house sitting on about ten acres that serves as a cultural center to Rochester. It is not a real colonial but the best that money could buy in its day! It is a major museum with all kinds of amenities. Check it out: http://www.eastmanhouse.org/inc/the_museum/history.php. The garden is formal English in nature with multiple walled in rooms, sunken gardens, pergolas, fountains, trellis rooms, rock gardens and you name it! Best of all, are the old trees on the property planted during the early days; they are quite spectacular.
I believe that we spent about 15 minutes touring the garden before running off to fuel the hungry. Nevertheless, it was a wonderful visit. Maybe, better in many ways because I did not have the time to linger and criticize or redesign parts of it in my mind.
By the way, I received an update from RJ that his hollyhocks are growing just fine. Given Rochester's growing season I hope they are well along by now for they will soon be history.