Good Bones: Part II Jane Bowne Haines, a Quaker for Feminine Education

“For I cannot think that GOD Almighty ever made them [women] so delicate, so glorious creatures; and furnished them with such charms, so agreeable and so delightful to mankind; with souls capable of the same accomplishments with men: and all, to be only Stewards of our Houses, Cooks, and Slaves.”   Daniel Defoe, The Education of Women

Temple Ambler Campus, Kirk R. Brown, John Bartram

The woodland walk.

Over 100 years ago the Ambler Campus of Temple University opened its doors as the Pennsylvania School of Horticulture for Women.   It was founded by Jane Bowne Haines to give women the educational opportunity to aspire to more than domesticity and careers in cleaning, sewing, cooking, and child-rearing.

A historic marker along Camp Meeting Road next to the campus defines its importance in female studies:  “The school was the first in the nation to educated women for careers in horticulture and agriculture.  It was founded on this site in 1910 by Jane Bowne Haines and a “congress of women.”  Three years later the Woman’s National Farm and the Garden Association originated here at a meeting sponsored by the school.  During WWI and WWII, PSHW trained women to grow and preserve food for the war effort.  In 1958 PSHW merged with Temple University.

Haines was descended from a Quaker family.  An ancestor, Caspar Wistar, was a professor at the University of Pennsylvania and an amateur botanist.  We remember him today as the man after whom the Wisteriawas named.  Ms. Haines inherited his spark of botanical interest.  They were people on the long and interconnected family tree of Quaker in Horticulture in Philadelphia.  It is a very small world when God is in the details.

Temple Ambler, Kirk R. Brown, John Bartram

The pergola at the end of the lawn, terrace and borders is undergoing renovation in 2012.

The campus is home to a wonderful collection of trees, shrubs, display and educational gardens.  The centerpiece is a terraced lawn and borders along with a woodland designed by the noted early landscape designer and only female charter member of the newly organized American Society of Landscape Architects :  Beatrix Farrand.   Her Cadwalader antecedents were also part of the strong Quaker heritage of Philadelphia.  Her cousin was Edith Wharton, another noted and extremely literate gardener.

Labyrinth, Temple Ambler, Kirk R. Brown, John Bartram

The Labyrinth is a very spiritual space. Everyone should be required to actively walk one once in every life.

My day in Temple’s woods ended at the spiritual center of the space.  A labyrinth has gravel paths edged with natural stone boulders.  Surrounding the “Road to Jerusalem” is a very Celtic ring of stones.  There were several monolithic menhirs standing as sentinels around the space.  The bones of this garden are reminders of our own medieval Christian religion and a far earlier and primitive Druidic culture.

It was a holy way to end the tour.  Our mentor and guide for the afternoon was Eva Monheim.  You can catch her spirit in the movement round the edge of this picture.  She is a friend of long-standing with a sense of the spirituality of life.  She shares her divine spark with the students who call her teacher.

Temple Ambler, Labyrinth, Kirk R. Brown, John Bartram

The labyrinth with Eva.

Good Bones: Part I of Philadelphia Quaker Land-Grant Tour

 “And the LORD shall guide thee continually, and satisfy thy soul in drought, and make fat thy bones: and thou shalt be like a watered garden, and like a spring of water, whose waters fail not.”   Isaiah 58:11

“There ought to be Gardens for all Months in the year, in which, severally, things of Beauty may be then in season.”  Sir Francis Bacon

I was in the countryside yesterday experiencing the change of season.  It’s early for us to be recognizing trees by their flowers.  Magnolia spp. and Prunus of all types were pushing color through the tight shells of buds and displaying to us an early spring.

Meadowbrook Farm, Kirk R. Brown, John Bartram

A Folly creates the focus of this very linear garden room.

I was touring with a good friend who was here for meetings related to the grand and glorious Philadelphia Flower Show.  It was she who whose day it was to prod this old man into action.  She had an agenda and organized the day around farms and gardens that she wanted to view.

Meadowbrook Farm, Kirk R. Brown, John Bartram

Mistress Nancy Buley was the reason for touring broader Quaker land grants of the Philadelphia environs.

The first was Meadowbrook Farms.  It was the manor house of G. Liddon Pennock Jr.  I’m told that it was designed in the manner of a home in the Cotswolds, England.  I wouldn’t know.  I have never travelled there.  But it looks older than its 75 years.  Mr. Pennock and his wife, Alice, appear to have led a golden life.  They were gifted the land on which their house and garden grew by her parents.  Their parcel of 150 acres was cut out of a demesne of many thousands that went back to the time of the original Quaker settlement.

Meadowbrook Farms, Kirk R. Brown, John Bartram

This is the Cotswold Manor House constructed by J. Liddon Pennock. It's an English country cottage. Lovely house with garden views from every room.

Oh, I didn’t mention that Mr. Pennock was Quaker.  So, of course he was also very intimately involved with the world of Horticulture in this hot bed of botanic discovery and display.  The gardens that surround the house are the main reason for my interest.  Most especially, the magnificent Franklinia that rises majestically in a bed all to itself next to the forecourt.  It is perhaps the best representation of the species that I have ever seen.  As you know, I have seen quite a few.

Meadowbrook Farm, Kirk R. Brown, John Bartram

Next to the courtyard is the magnificent Franklinia alatamaha. It's largre size and advanced age is being backed up by the three smaller trees that ring the central masterpiece.

But Mistress Nancy and I continued to walk around the grounds.   She represents one of the world’s largest growers and sellers of trees.  J. Franklin Schmidts in Boring Oregon is a nursery built on my original model of shipping small slips, twigs, bare roots, and starters to a world of those nurserymen eager to grow them up and plant them on.

Meadowbrook Farm, Kirk R. Brown, John Bartram

The grand staircase leads to the wonders of the many garden rooms. Animals abound in stone, terra cotta, bronze, steel, and concrete.

She is as aware of the trees in a garden as I am.  She is keenly interested in the choice specimens that were on display in the elegantly articulated garden rooms.  Mr. Pennock crafted a beautiful series of spaces set apart by hedges and terraced into a hillside that falls away to view the rolling mountains in the distance.  It’s a statement of tranquility and perfect, human scale.  It was delightful to see the shape of the spaces without the distraction of floral color, sparkling noisy water from the fountains and the showy abundance of summer.

Meadowbrook Farm, Kirk R. Brown, John Bartram

The fountains were still.

We went to the garden in this early spring to see the bones.  And they were shimmering and ghostly.  A contorted pair of Tsuga in the Eagle garden was pruned and tormented over many, many years to within inches of their wondrous lives.

Meadowbrook Farm, Kirk R. Brown, John Bartram

The eagle garden with flanking Hemlocks pruned and formed into a unique cloud of evergreen.

The evergreens were in accumulated abundance:  Ilex, Chamaecyparis, Pinus, Laurels—both broadleaved and small—and Camellia.  The Camellia is a Chinese plant that was introduced to the trade by Lord Petre’s gardener, James Gardener.  You’ll remember that Lord Petre, Thorndon Hall, Essex was one of my most passionate and dedicated correspondents until his untimely death in 1743.  Camellias are members of the family of plants that also include tea.  And where would we be as a society without the calming benefit of that elixir?

Meadowbrook Farm, Kirk R. Brown, John Bartram

The camellia was in bloom on a south-facing stone wall.

Several plants were unknown to me in the days of my earlier travels.  But I have taken to them as if they were of my own discovery.  Sciadopitys verticillata has been given the much more descriptive name of Japanese Umbrella Pine.  The specimen viewed yesterday was so aged that it had successfully produced cones.  Amazing.

Meadowbrook Farm, Kirk R. Brown, John Bartram

The Sciadopitys verticillata was showing cones.

A pair of espaliered Beech trees had grown so old that their branches had begun to overwhelm the iron fence that supported them.  Intriguing.

Meadowbrook Farm, Kirk R. Brown, John Bartram

The beech was espaliered on a 19th century piece of wrought iron.

Just as intriguing was the collection of carved animals.  In all sizes.  In all the various poses of life.  In all of the diversity of nature.  Cats.  Birds.  Rabbits.  Horses.  Mice.  Pigs.  The menagerie was frozen into poses that echoed the ghostliness of the empty spaces.  More bones of a garden out of its season.

Meadowbrook Farm, Kirk R. Brown, John Bartram

The rabbit and the cat play out a dramatic scene from the likes of Aesop's Fables.

We experienced much more than we saw.  The day had a cold edge that kept us moving quickly through the spaces.  There was a dimension of a golden age and a stylish life alive in these AlléesWe felt the warm summer nights that had movie stars laughing with scions of capitalist enterprise.  Those ghosts were gathered in beautiful clothes glittering with gems that echoed the brilliant stars in the distant sky.

Meadowbrook Farm, Kirk R. Brown, John Bartram

A ghost of a garden entry.

Good bones.  Haunting and haunted space.  A garden that I can experience with my own sense of history and my own ghost-like appearance on an early spring’s magical afternoon.  Our hosts for the final tour of the house were John Story and Diana Wiener.  They have taken care to preserve the ghosts of this world by remembering the life of the owners in the stories of the details. 

Meadowbrook Farm, Kirk R. Brown, John Bartram

Le Chat

Like a Voyage to the Sandwich Islands

Philadelphia Flower Show, Kirk R. Brown, John Bartram

Orchids drip from bamboo forests. Color and light is in abundance.

“Do just once what others say you can’t do, and you will never pay attention to their limitations again.”  Captain James Cook.

“This is the most magnificent, balmy atmosphere in the world—ought to take dead men out of grave.”  Mark Twain in Hawaii, Walter Francis Frear

Philadelphia Flower Show, Kirk R. Brown, John Bartram

The visitors to the flower show enter through a wave that places them under the sea on the trip to the Hawaiian Islands.

The Philadelphia Flower Show’s presentation of Hawaii this week has called me from the history of my travels and resurrected me from the dead of winter.  It is truly a balmy atmosphere.

John Bartram, Kirk R. Brown, Philadelphia Flower Show

On the beach under a palm umbrella, I can see my way clearly to the surf and sun on a tropical island

It was on his third voyage of discovery that Captain Cook re-discovered and named the Sandwich Islands.  This group of eight main islands in an archipelago spanning 1500 miles and several hundred assorted other islands and outcroppings is volcanic in nature.  It sits in the midst of the earth’s largest geographic formation:  The Pacific Ocean.

Stone totems to island gods.

Black volcanic stones stacked as totems to the island gods. The grassy meadow basks in the artificial glow of theatrical lighting.

 Cook was lucky to stumble on this tropical oasis—stuck as it is out in the middle of an ocean like a pin head surfacing in the folds of an Amish quilt.  We’ve come to know these eight islands collectively as Hawaii. 

Philadelphia Flower Show, Kirk R. Brown, John Bartram

An Hawaiian still life.

I paid attention to Cook’s travels because he was brought to the sea by a pair of seafaring Quaker brothers in the south of England.  They were traders and I made their acquaintance through my own traffic in plants.  Cook rose easily and mightily in the ranks of the English Navy.  His is a record of discovery unparalleled in the English-speaking world.  He discovered as many worlds as I discovered plants.  It was and still is quite an accomplishment.

Philadelphia Flower Show, Kirk R. Brown, John Bartram

A visit to the flower show is like discovering a chest of many drawers. Each new opening, each new drawer is a surprise and a delight.

This week, Cook’s islands were delivered to Philadelphia with their color, flavor, textures, temperatures, art and horticulture.  What a spectacular tour-de-force of botanical splendor!    

Philadelphia Flower Show, Kirk R. Brown, John Bartram

A recreation with fiery botanicals of the volcanic lava flowing across and through the islands.

I post these pictures and include a photograph of the man responsible for capturing the images.  He is my amanuensis, Kirk R. Brown. 

Philadelphia Flower Show, Kirk R. Brown, John Bartram

Many thanks to Marie Mims Butler, fellow garden writer and Virginia traveler, for providing this fleeting view of the recorder of John's travels. It would appear that he is just bursting with the great white light of over-exposure.

To the Greatest Horticultural Show on Earth!

“Gardens are not made by singing ‘Oh, how beautiful…’ and sitting in the shade.”  Rudyard Kipling

“A man at work, making something which he feels will exist because he is working at it and wills it, is exercising the energies of his mind and soul as well as of his body.  Memory and imagination help him as he works.”  William Morris

John Bartram Kirk R. Brown

These are the men behind the large commercial displays at the Philadelphia Flower Show: John Story, Jack Blandy, Michael Petrie.

I traveled back to Florida on a recent journey of exploration.  Those who accompanied me were the many designers and fabricators of the horticultural exhibits that were to appear at the upcoming Philadelphia Flower Show.  You’ll remember that Philadelphia serves as the home to the oldest annual gathering of horticultural material in a display designed to be pleasing to the masses.  It has become known to one and all as the Philadelphia Flower Show.

Philadelphia Flower Show, John Bartram, Kirk R. Brown

The tropical heat of passionate colors cast a Hawaiian glow over the entire show floor.

I now possess an insight into that world of magic and theatrical exuberance.  The color, light, attractions, fame, and competition are all compressed into spaces of 50 feet by 50 feet.  Or in a 10’ x 20’ that speaks to the smaller access of limited budgets, smaller plant material, or specialized focus.

But it is much more than flowers; and much more than just a show.  It is a coming together of like-minded people.  They celebrate with bounteous esthetic protestations and God’s diversity of botanical material.  What a wondrous thing to bring old hearts into young cultivation.

Philadelphia Flower Show, Kirk R. Brown, John Bartram

Peggy Anne Montgomery, Dan Benarcik, Denise Schreiber, Marie Mims Butler, and Sara Brown joined fellow Garden Writers on a press tour of the Philadelphia Flower Show before its official opening. Leis were distributed amongst the participants.

To become one of the named celebrants on the show floor requires much in commitment, connectional history, quality business systems, and horticultural access.  These display designers have all of the requisites.  They are an entitled group:  legendary in their creativity, passionate in their spirit of community, and driven to succeed in the bleakness of any mid-winter season.

Philadelphia Flower Show, Kirk R. Brown, John Bartram

Stoney Bank is one of the major commercial theme display exhibitors. They have been a show-stopping, prize-winning company for many, many years.

All of their success lies in the plant material that must be cultured to bloom when it would want to be bare.  They force bulbs to majesty out of season.  They coax trees to leave, shrubs to flower, water to flow in abundance, and earth to take on the warmth of a summer’s day.

Philadelphia Flower Show, John Bartram, Kirk R. Brown

The landscapes are installed as they would be seen on a warm day in a tropical climate.

It has never been natural.  The artificiality of it makes it all more wondrous.  It is not sustainable.  But the transience of the view makes it all the more miraculous.  The show floor has become a stage and these designers are true masters of the technique.  Their sets are the stuff on which winters dreams are cast.

Philadelphia Flower Show, Kirk R. Brown, John Bartram

Orchids against a volcanic mountain are like tropical smiles on a warm summer's night.

 And the audience suspends their disbelief and comes to the scene in awe and amazement.  They want to believe that man’s artifice can transcend God’s laws.  And I believe that even God smiles.  This is a celebration that he has ordered.  Our revels worship at the foot of his creation.

These designers have become servants to God’s nature and therefore masters of this universe.  They pleasure themselves at the same time they work against all that is easy, or timely, or natural. 

Philadelphia Flower Show, Kirk R. Brown, John Bartram

All of the exhibits on the show floor extend just another invitation to dream a little dream--indoors!

I love them for their creation.  I am given a sense of well-being and grace by their witness. 

I work enough every year to attend yet one more time.  This “Philadelphia Flower Show” is a display that demonstrates the power of nature.  It calls loudly to us to come and worship.

Philadelphia Flower Show, Kirk R. Brown, John Bartram

Put me into the scene of this cabana and lap pool and I will be a very happy man...dreaming of the days in the tropics.