Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Moorestown Garden Club's "Backyard Oasis"

Beautifully crafted Sedum wreath

Moorestown is an affluent and historic community in South Jersey. A few years ago it was ranked number one place to live by Money Magazine in the USA because of its history, employment opportunity, sense of community and proximity to Philadelphia. Originally a Quaker Town dating from the 1680’s the community was incorporated as recently as the 1920’s.

Entry porch of old farmhouse

The Moorestown Garden Club is one of the first in the New Jersey. Founded in the mid 1950’s is has been a social and functional organization aiding projects in the community and elsewhere that their efforts and contributions are needed in the State. The Spring Garden Walking Tour (a misnomer because of the vast distances between gardens) displays a variety of gardens throughout the 15 square mile township. This biennial event serves as a fund raiser for the Club and showcases gardens and their creators in the community.

Nice spot to cool of in shade of Hydrangea petiolaris

I have known many members of the Garden Club while volunteering as a Judge for the Philadelphia Flower Show and the City Garden Contest. These enthusiastic ladies volunteer and enter in the judged competitions at the Philadelphia Flower show and other events of the Pennsylvania Horticultural Society. Although acquainted with many, I had never visited the Spring Garden Walking Tour. My friend Carmen called with an offer to get to her house in an hour for a surprise. I did and we spent a few hours talking and seeing gardens.

Manicured herb and vegetable garden

The theme for the event was “Backyard Oasis”. There were five gardens open to the public. I will show you two gardens that stood out for very different reasons. The above images have shown a 100-year-old farm house in this very historic town where most houses are a tad older. This house has been updated and everything is beautifully crafted. There is not a blade of grass out of place and in as much as it is set to show the comforts that one can enjoy in this backyard oasis, it does not seem that the owners ever lay back and just relax.

Finally, a wonderful old shed that has been repaired and used to create another wonderful setting in this property.

Formal and elegant side yard entrance hosta garden viewed from family picnic table
In another side of town where houses are in large lots but still a traditional grid this garden jumps at you with craft and a sense of being. The term for this is "Genius Loci" it comes from the ancient Romans (for one) whose religion allowed for places with spirits.

Two potters and their three children live in this house and as artists they take their art throughout what they do. Things are more artistic than perfect, but the results are truly enchanting. They are organic and farmers and have added to their garden places for art, food, and fun.

A tiered metal basket filled with all varieties of eggs shows quite a range of poultry. Their lot is some 80 by 300 feet and even though the neighbors are in ear shot of the noises from their poultry and odd duck, the neighbors get along and all feel this sense of place. No doubt sentiments are probably eased with wonderful natural eggs as a bonus to those bounding the property. The owners have taken consideration to the extreme by creating a soundproof environment box where the rooster sleeps. It appears that he sings at all hours and not just at dawn.

There is something wonderful when kids grow up with animals. Here the youngest boy was playing with his pet furry chicken!

There are multiple pavilions or playhouses you decide, where all can enjoy some time at play or creation. The one below even has a roof terrace overlooking the garden. It reminds me a little of hobbit land. Two very talented gardeners with two very different agendas.

It is hard to differentiate what makes up one oasis from another. In the truest sense, an oasis is a place that is remarkably different from barren and desert lands around it. My way of gardening is certainly not what I would recommend for anyone. I use my garden as a private place of escape and to re-energize my creativity or for sheer relaxation. This year I have been trying to figure out how little I can do. As the count goes, I don't think I have put in 10 hours of labor so far. I am not going to do much this year. I want to see what happens on its own. My garden is an oasis in what may not appear but is, sometimes, a desert.

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