This week was the exhausting APGA (American Public Gardens Association) conference in Philly. Chanticleer hosted an amazing party on Wednesday night, which was later coined “Chantastic” by the attendees, and we all worked really hard getting ready for it and cleaning up afterward. So, after a lot of sweating and not a lot of sleep, it was a treat to attend a garden party hosted by someone else. That someone being Andrew Bunting, the curator of the Scott Arboretum. I went with the two other Chanticleer interns and my dinky old camera. My photos don’t do his garden justice, but they offer a hint of the magic.
It was a really hot week, and the humidity was typical of a the July nights I grew up with in DC, except it was June and not DC. So, you get the picture - it was hot and muggy. Upon arriving at the entrance garden, the heat just seemed to melt away. Cool blues and greens washed over me as I made my way to the front door. Amsonia billowed and spilled out over the bluestone entrance patio; big bluestem grass stood feathery in front of a smokebush; and Rudbeckia maxima picked up the glaucous blue of the Amsonia’s new growth in the distance. The front door color and trim around the windows beautifully complimented the hues in the garden and created a soothing backdrop to better see the garden’s dynamic textures, shapes, and subtleties of color.
The back yard was a different world entirely. Off the back of the house stood a summer house, nestled into the garden and appearing like a sort of historic stable with ruinous and crumbling stone walls around it. A collection of agaves clustered together in a gravel seating area off one of the bays of the summer house. I walked back deeper into the garden to a blue picket fence surrounding a quaint vegetable garden and guarded by a bespectacled sculptural monkey. Rounding back to a property line I never found, I came upon a pond, and just beyond it a window looking out on a scene that looked familiar. And then I surprised myself, because it was not a window but a mirror, and I was the familiar figure in the scene.
The garden was full of surprises and wonder, and we encountered one last surprise as we were leaving. It was a Taxus hedge that appeared to close off the garden. But, as we drew nearer, it became two shrubs, offset to appear as one, and we walked through it to depart.
I’ve imagined gardens in my dreams before, and I think this was one of them.