Broken Arrow Nursery

We had the pleasure of taking a tour of Broken Arrow Nursery in Hamden yesterday. What better way to spend a sleepy August morning than among plants, yes? Founded in 1947, Broken Arrow is one of the few garden centers in Connecticut that grow their own nursery stock. This allows them to offer a tremendous diversity of trees and shrubs, including those you’re unlikely to find anywhere else. You also know you’re getting a plant that will be hardy in Connecticut. If you love perennial woody plants, this is definitely the place to go.

A variety of conifers
Love the different textures in this photo.
Pinus strobus 'Mini Twists'
Pinus strobus ‘Mini Twists’
Viburnum lantana 'Wavecrest' fruiting.
Viburnum lantana ‘Wavecrest’
A cascade of golden-green grass
Hakonechloa macra
silver-green globe thistle with a bee friend
Echinops and friend

While I took many photos and lots of notes, I did not make any purchases as our garden won’t be ready for plantings before next spring. When it is ready, however, I shall certainly include a variety of conifers!

Old Royal Cup and Saucer

I have become a person who collects teacups. I found a pretty vintage teacup. And then another. And now I have a collection of five with the expectation there will be more. I enjoy tea … I suppose it is only natural that I should start collecting teacups.

Most recently, I acquired a beautiful Old Royal cup and saucer pairing. I love the use of red violet and black against the white bone china and the gold edging gives it just a little glam. The handle, too, has an interesting shape. I’m sure there’s a term the precisely describe the shape, but I won’t know it until my Everything You Never Wanted to Know About Teacups interlibrary loan comes in.

Old royal teacup, red violet wheat and black grass
Love the use of red violet and black. It feels very contemporary.

I was able to do a some research into the backstamp (the manufacturer’s mark on the back of the cup and saucer) and found out a little bit about Old Royal, which I’m going to put down here, so I can come back to it later and add more information, if I find any.

Thomas Cooper and Sampson Smith produced china ornaments and fancy figures at their works, Cooper & Smith, in Longton, Staffordshire between 1850 and 1851. In 1851, the partnership was dissolved and the two continued independently.

In 1861, Census records show Sampson Smith as a manufacturer of earthenware (dogs, jugs, and figures) and china in Longton, employing some 200 persons.

While Smith died in 1878, the company remained active, adding chinaware to its range of goods and, in the 1920s, began to promote its wares as Wetley China, using such terms as “Old Royal China” and “Wetley Rose.” The name Wetley China was used from 1923 to 1941. When exactly Old Royal was in use, I cannot say.

Bottom of a teacup displaying the Old Royal Bone Chine backstamp
Great combination of red violet and green in the backstamp.

In 1939, Sampson Smith Ltd was purchased by Barker Bros and, from 1941 to 1945, production of the two firms was concentrated at the Barker Bros factory, also in Longton.

In 1956, Barker Bros and its subsidiary Sampson Smith Ltd became part of the Alfred Clough group, but production under the Barker Bros and Sampson Smith Ltd names continued through the 1960s, as far as I can tell.

Of pattern names, I know nothing.

I guess this is why smart people collect major manufactures like Royal Doulton. There’s so much material about Royal Doulton available (and so many patterns to collect).

PHS Meadowbrook Farm

On our way home from the PHS Philadelphia Flower Show, we stopped to visit the gardens at PHS Meadowbrook Farm. I’d made reservations a month in advance, fearing many other PFS visitors would have the same idea, but it was raining and we had the gardens to ourselves.

And such gardens! Each a perfect jewel box, opening onto another.Every plant, shrub, tree, and decorative object placed to harmonize with the whole or draw the eye to a particular point. Gardening as a fine art.

Meadowbrook was built in 1936 by J. Liddon Pennock, Jr. and his wife, Alice. Pennock, Jr. was known for decades as “Mr. Flower Show” and was heavily involved in the Philadelphia Flower Show right up until his death in 2003. The house and the gardens are both clearly influenced by English architecture and design, but still manage to seem fresh and interesting.