Sunday, March 9, 2014

Weekend Prelude to Spring

 Night Blooming Ladies talking soap.
Kim, the resident herbal, and on this particular evening, rose-scented soap expert.
Less than a month to go before Blooming Hill Gardens and Gift Shop opens for the new spring season and I've spent the last three days tripping the light fantastic! Well, when duty calls, I must answer and so it all began with last Thursday evening when several members of my garden club, the Night Bloomers, gathered at my home for our monthly meeting and to discuss and learn the craft of making artisan herbal soaps. The kitchen smelled like a rose garden on a warm summer evening as our resident expert, Kim mixed the essential oils soapy ingredients while the rest of us took copious notes.

The sign, sans my face peeking through, that greeted visitors ready for a photo-op at the Philly Flower Show, this past weekend.
A plethora of Pantone color courtesy of Mother Nature and the garden designer who created this springtime vignette, complete with a reflection pool.
Light, airy and sunny garden sculpture almost floating away.
 A bridge to that could possibly lead to "The Shire" hidden deep in middle earth.
Vibrant orchid toned down to cool lavender.
Then, bright and early Friday morning, Peter and I were off to the Philadelphia Flower Show to enjoy this annual homage to fabulous floral design and landscape architecture.  This year, the theme of the show was "Articulture, Where Art Meets Horticulture" and the colors and textures of the garden came alive for thousands of visitors inside the Philadelphia Convention Center once more.

Cool retro meets sleek modern.
The vibrant purple-blue-grey shades of this year's Pantone top color picks became even more animated in the pink, lavender and chartreuse trees, blooms and grasses coupled with garden sculpture highlights reflected in peaceful ponds and the simulated evening sky. And, the marketplace, where you can buy almost anything from any type of garden vendor imaginable, was not bad either.

 Well if I can't live with Lord and Lady Crawley, at least I can visit them at Winterthur.

Notice all of the bells assigned to servants in the background?  Never a dull moment nor rest for the weary!  They were always at the beck and call of the family. 
 Garden party dresses worn by the Crawley sisters.
Finally, Saturday brought us to the lovely mansion and gardens of Winterthur, the du Pont Country Estate, and since 1951, a museum, located in a particularly picturesque corner of Delaware. We took a tram through the naturalistic garden property and toured the mansion, thoroughly enjoying ourselves, especially at the "Costumes of Downton Abbey" Seasons 1-4 Exhibit, now on display there throughout this year.  Dare I say, it was my favorite part of the entire weekend.

 Look closely and see the 9-story mansion of  Henry Francis du Pont (1880-1969).  The palacious museum, almost hidden atop the tree filled slope, boasts an extensive collection of over 100 thousand items and about 80% of them are always on display. du Pont's favorite hobbies included collecting art and antiques, gardening and farming.  When he donated the 82-room Winterthur Mansion to the public and then moved to a smaller 52-room "cottage" on the property, he said, "I may no longer live here, but I will always be the head gardener."
And, did I mention that we also took a side trip to one of my favorite retail garden center hot spots (aside from Blooming Hill, of course), Terrain, just a hop, skip and a jump down the road from Winterthur and, if you really have time on your hands to kill, Terrain is even closer to Longwood Gardens in Pennsylvania.  Alas, for Peter and me, Longwood would have to wait until another day.

A last glimpse of the brightly decorated opening stage at the Philly Flower Show.
I love this little potting shed.
All in all, it was a whirlwind weekend worth the fun, games and detours that simply swept me off of my feet and carried me away, if only briefly, down a lovely and winding garden path to the promise of spring, soon to be full of color and beauty.
 One of Peter's favorites at the Philly Flower Show--a garden style man cave designed and sponsored by the Men's Garden Club of Pennsylvania.  When you looked inside, there was a painting easel, fishing rods and lots and lots of shiny and new gardening tools, but not a flat screen TV with remote anywhere in site--go figure!

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