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