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.


PHS Philadelphia Flower Show 2021

Last month I had the opportunity to visit the Philadelphia Flower Show, the oldest, biggest, and arguably best flower show in the United States. This event has been on my gardening bucket list for years, but I’d half convinced myself I’d never go, because there was no way my anxiety wouldn’t be triggered spending time in a convention center full of people and their sounds, smells, and noises. Gah.

However, due to COVID-19, this year the PHS Philadelphia Flower Show was held outside in South Philadelphia’s FDR Park …

It was magnificent. Overwhelming, yes, but it a really good way. Like when you’re a little kid super-excited to go the dinosaur museum and you get there and it’s even more awesome than you’d imagined. The displays arranged throughout the park, some by obviously by highly skilled professionals and others by youth or community groups, were simply fantastic and gave me lots of ideas for my own gardens. I think about the amount of work and artistry that went into those exhibits and I have nothing but the utmost respect for everyone involved.

I took too many photos, of course. Everything was so beautiful and interesting that I wanted to record everything for later. I’ve tried to narrow it down to just “the best” here, but the more are available on my Instagram.

Frelinghuysen Arboretum

On our way back from Peony’s Envy (see previous post), we stopped to stretch our legs at the Frelinghuysen Arboretum in Morris, New Jersey. Dedicated in 1971, the arboretum was a gift from Matilda Frelinghuysen and consists of 127 mixed acres of woodlands, meadows, gardens, and (of course) trees. There is also a Colonial Revival style summer home, used by the late Frelinghuysens three months of the year, but the house was closed to visitors at the time of our visit.

Strawberries ripening in a barrel in the Lawrence Barkman Vegetable Garden
In the Lawrence Barkman Vegetable Garden

The Frelinghuysen Arboretum can be divided into three sections. The first sections is the home demonstration gardens area encircling the Haggerty Education Center. There you will find a perennial garden, rock garden, blue garden, cottage garden, special needs garden, and so much more. I spent an hour in this section alone.

Enkianthus with its bell-shaped flowers
Enkianthus with its bell-shaped flowers

The second section is the mansion garden area which includes the great lawn, heritage rose garden, knot garden, several fountains, an arbor, and more. According to the cell phone tour, the rose gardens beds are laid out between the spokes of a brick walk that resemble the Union Jack. In the center beds are Knock Out Roses with hybrid tea and ground cover roses around the edge of the garden.

blooms in the rose garden
In the rose garden
Carding Mill English Roses in bloom
Carding Mill English roses in the rose garden

The third section is what I thought of as the arboretum proper — the trees, paths, and meadow that comprise the majority of the grounds. While we didn’t spend much time in this section, I would like to return next spring to see the crabapples and flowering cherries in bloom.

Mountain Laurel in bloom
Blooms in the mountain laurel allee

Although we only spent a scant two hours at the Frelinghuysen Arboretum, we enjoyed every minute and would recommend it as a peaceful way to spend an afternoon in North Jersey.