USA 2014 - Part 5

The 2014 Meeting of the International Clematis Society in the USA

This is the fifth and final of my informal reports about the visit by the Society to the USA in May/June 2014. A comprehensive set of articles by attendees will be published in Clematis International 2015 but here I give you my personal perspective of the event, in particular looking beyond the clematis as well as at them.

Part 1 and Part 2 covered the pre-meeting visit to Georgia for "A Taste of Viorna". Part 3 and Part 4 covered our first few days of the main meeting in Pennsylvania. Now I will conclude our Pennsylvania experience.

I should point out that there was a post-conference event, The Virginian Viorna, a three day tour to northwest Virginia, organized by Linda Beutler, our current President, with help from the designer, horticulturist and author, C. Colston Burrell. Unfortunately Fiona and I could not take more time off and so were unable to go along. I gather it was both most enjoyable as well as very successful, in terms of the wild clematis species found, and I hope to publish accounts in Clematis International 2015.

Part 5 - Philadelphia, Pennsylvania concluded

Thursday 5th June - Private Gardens of Chester and Delaware Counties

Brandywine Cottage

Another bright and sunny day. Our schedule was to take us to a number of private gardens which feature cultivars from the Clematis Trial being run by the Scott Arboretum, Chanticleer and Longwood Gardens. The first was Brandywine Cottage, an old colonial house dating back to the 1700s surrounded by a lovely garden of about 0.8 hectares (2 acres). It belongs to David Culp (see right) and Michael Alderfer who, over the last 20 years, have developed the garden using their technique of layering. Essentially this consists of interplanting different plants such that as one finishes flowering, another is ready to take its place, this giving a continuance of colour and texture throughout the year.

The cottage itself is surprisingly compact. I would have described it as small except I think in this garden, size is deceptive and it's probably bigger than you'd first think. However it is the garden that greets you, and my eye was immediately drawn to the lovely vegetable garden bordered by a white picket fence that seems to take centre space.

Brandywine Cottage
Brandywine Cottage Brandywine Cottage
Brandywine Cottage Brandywine Cottage
Brandywine Cottage In fact the garden is much bigger than you think but has been cleverly designed so that it only reveals it's full self as you follow the various paths that link all the "sub-gardens".

The technique of layering means that the real magic of the garden reveals itself over time and the snapshot which we saw would not necessarily do it true justice. So it's even more a tribute that it looked so good. The beds were a riot of colour, but well thought out with graduating heights so give different impressions from different directions.

As well as the vegetable garden, there were many different borders, a rose area and a hillside garden.

You can read more about layering from their book, "The Layered Garden: Design Lessons for Year-Round Beauty from Brandywine Cottage Hardcover" by David L. Culp and Adam Levine.

Brandywine Cottage Brandywine Cottage
Brandywine Cottage Brandywine Cottage
Brandywine Cottage Brandywine Cottage
Brandywine Cottage Brandywine Cottage

Garden of Reggie and Frank Thomas

Garden of Reggie and Frank Thomas
Reggie and Frank have lived here for about 25 years. The garden, originally containing the ruins of Cheswold, the mansion of Alexander Cassatt, had a few specimen trees and little else. Reggie and Frank have dramatically developed the plot by creating a series of rooms. Their planting, whilst having a formal structural base, provides a romantic feel, via sitting areas and garden sculpture. The stone walls, many of which were made from salvage form the Cassatt mansion, not only provide structure but also lots of planting opportunities. Garden of Reggie and Frank Thomas
Garden of Reggie and Frank Thomas Garden of Reggie and Frank Thomas
Garden of Reggie and Frank Thomas Garden of Reggie and Frank Thomas
Garden of Reggie and Frank Thomas Garden of Reggie and Frank Thomas
Garden of Reggie and Frank Thomas Garden of Reggie and Frank Thomas
Garden of Reggie and Frank Thomas Garden of Reggie and Frank Thomas
Garden of Reggie and Frank Thomas Garden of Reggie and Frank Thomas

Lunch and Lecture at Swarthmore College

Lunch was provided at Swarthmore College, a very tasty buffet which we ate whilst listing to an absolutely fascinating talk by Dr. Dwayne Estes (see right) from the Department of Biology at Austin Peay State University, Clarksville, Tennessee. It was titled "Untangling the Viny Viornas: Taxonomic Studies in the Genus Clematis", and described the work Dwayne has been doing trying to unravel and identify a number of new species clematis from the southeast USA.

I will publish his slide set and some notes in Clematis International 2015.

Dr. Dwayne Estes

Hedgeleigh Springs

After lunch it was back on the bus for more, and this time very local, private gardens. The first was Hedgeleigh Springs, the garden of the author and horticulturist, Charles Cresson. The property has been in the family for some 100 years, with the original garden created by Charles's grandfather in the 1920's. There are now many different areas contained within the boundaries, including woodland, a pond, a perennial meadow and a vegetable patch. This diversity is then reflected in the planting.

As you can also see, Charles also has lots of clematis.

Hedgeleigh Springs
Hedgeleigh Springs Hedgeleigh Springs
Hedgeleigh Springs - C. serratifolia Hedgeleigh Springs - C. 'Saphire Indigo'

C. serratifolia

C. 'Saphire Indigo'

Hedgeleigh Springs Hedgeleigh Springs
Hedgeleigh Springs Hedgeleigh Springs
Hedgeleigh Springs Hedgeleigh Springs
Hedgeleigh Springs Hedgeleigh Springs - C. 'Rooguchi'

C. 'Rooguchi'


Andrew Bunting is the Curator at the Scott Arboretum and his garden is relatively newly created, having been started only in 1999. The front garden is cottage style whilst around the back there are tropical and perennial borders as well as woodland and a pond. There is also a large vegetable garden which Andrew shares with neighbours.

Personally I found the garden really easy and comfortable to be in. It had a very warm and lived in feeling. I loved the various objects lying around it, lots of pots but relatively randomly placed (at least they looked to have been placed at random, I would not be surprised if it had taken ages to decide exactly where to put them!).

Note also a beautiful wrought iron garden gate - I want one.

Belvidere Belvidere
Belvidere Belvidere
Belvidere Belvidere
Belvidere Belvidere
Belvidere Belvidere
Belvidere Belvidere

Garden of Joe Henderson, David Mattern and Jeff Jabco

Final garden of the day was that of Joe, Jeff and David. As we walked in, we were faced immediately with beautiful wrought iron work, apparently all Joe's work, as were various metal garden sculptures and the fantastic balcony railings.

It's a medium-sized garden, albeit larger than it first appears, as you find out after wandering around and discovering all sorts of things you didn't see initially. A low dry stone wall makes a very nice backdrop for a number of plants, as well a home for others.

Joe, Jeff and David were the perfect hosts, having enlisted a number of friends to make and serve various tasty nibbles and drinks, but it was the Bellini cocktails (sparking wine and peach purée) which proved the real hit, and our hosts worked very hard to keep up with the demand.

It was the perfect visit on which to end a fascinating day of contrasting private gardens.

Joe Henderson, David Mattern and Jeff Jabco
Werner Stastny on the balcony Metal garden sculpture
C. 'Rooguchi' C. 'Evipo019' PARISIENNE

C. 'Evipo019' PARISIENNE

C. 'Rooguchi'

Joe Henderson, David Mattern and Jeff Jabco Joe Henderson, David Mattern and Jeff Jabco
Joe Henderson, David Mattern and Jeff Jabco Joe Henderson, David Mattern and Jeff Jabco
Joe Henderson, David Mattern and Jeff Jabco Joe Henderson, David Mattern and Jeff Jabco
Cocktails in demand Celebrating Werner's birthday

Cocktails in demand

Celebrating Werner's birthday

First Friday in West Chester

Tonight we experienced a West Chester tradition, First Friday. Perhaps this is common to other towns, but I've not come across it before. On the first Friday evening of the month, shops and galleries on the high street stay open late to allow people to have dinner at one of the many and excellent restaurants in the town centre and then stroll up and down the high street, stopping and visiting wherever they choose. It was a lovely atmosphere and made for a very relaxing evening on which to end the day.

Saturday 7th June - Art, Culture and Gardens

Art and Culture in Philadelphia, the Barnes Foundation and the Rodin Galley

Central Philadelphia Benjamin Franklin Parkway in central Philadelphia

Philadelphia Skyline

Philadelphia Skyline from Benjamin Franklin Parkway

This was our last day of the conference and meeting and we started with a trip into the centre of Philadelphia for art and culture. It's a big city but with quite a lot of open spaces and green areas, giving a calm and relaxed feel.

Our first stop was the Barnes Foundation. Albert Barnes came from a working class background. However he went to the University of Pennsylvania where he got his medical degree and continued his studies into chemistry in Germany. He made his fortune developing and then manufacturing Argyrol, a treatment for infant blindness.

He was introduced to art by a friend and as the business flourished, he started to buy various paintings, primarily impressionist works of art. In 1922 the Barnes Foundation was started, to "promote the advancement of education and the appreciation of the fine arts."

At the same time his wife, Laura, began to develop the Barnes Arboretum, a second part of the Foundation.

Today we visited the art collection, now housed in a splendid modern purpose-built galley on Benjamin Franklin Parkway in central Philadelphia and opened in 2012. Photography is not allowed inside so all I can show is the building itself (see below).

The collection inside is very extensive but also very interestingly presented. Barnes did not believe in the "standard" way of hanging pictures individually and made clusters and montages of a number, closely hung together. Normally there would be a common theme to each of the pictures in a cluster, be that a prominent colour, object(s) in each of the pictures, perhaps a common activity shown across them all. In the present galley the pictures have been rehung exactly as Albert Barnes had had them originally in their home / galley.

It's a large collection, with works by the top impressionists, often alongside much lesser known artists. I found the way the paintings were displayed as refreshingly different and quite exciting - you never knew what would come next and it encouraged you to compare and contrast the styles and skills of different artists.

The new Barnes Foundation in central Philadelphia The new Barnes Foundation in central Philadelphia

Two sides of the new Barnes Foundation building on Benjamin Franklin Parkway

It would have been very easy to have spent all day in the gallery but whilst we were in downtown Philadelphia we also had a date to visit the Rodin Museum, a short walk from Barnes.

The purpose built museum was opened in 1929. Designed in the Beaux-Arts style by a French architect and with formal French garden, it is quite small but houses many of his sculptures, I believe approximately 130 though some are copies, large and small and both inside and in the grounds surrounding the museum.

The iconic Rodin's "The Thinker" (see right), set over the entrance gateway to the museum, made a fitting welcome.

Rodin's The Thinker at the entrance to the museum garden

The Thinker

The Kiss The Cathedral

The Kiss

The Cathedral

Kneeling Fauness The Burghers of Calais

The Burghers of Calais

Kneeling Fauness

Following our visit to the Rodin Museum, we ate a packed lunch which had been ordered and collected from a local organic food market. Fortunately there were some trees to give us a degree of shade from the quite intense midday sun. The centre of Philadelphia where we were in Benjamin Franklin Parkway was surprisingly calm and peaceful. I guess being a Saturday probably helped but even so, there was not a lot of traffic to disturb our al fresco lunch. Al fresco lunch on Benjamin Franklin Parkway


Chanticleer is, and I quote from our conference booklet, "known as one of the most romantic, imaginative and exciting public gardens in the U.S.". That's quite a statement, so did it come up to scratch? Oh yes!

Joe Henderson and David Mattern, who with Jeff Jabco organized the conference here in Philadelphia, both work at Chanticleer, so we had inside knowledge to call on for this, our final visit of the conference. Let me also thank the management and staff of Chanticleer for hosting not only our visit, which included a fabulous barbecue dinner, but also for significant help in the logistics of the whole event.

The Gardens date from the early 20th century. Adolph Rosengarten, Sr., and his wife Christine ran a successful pharmaceutical company and bought the land for a country retreat, though they moved in full time around 1924. Over time neighboring land was purchased to increase the size of the estate. Today it is owned by the Chanticleer Foundation, with six of the nine Board of Directors members related to the Rosengarten family.

The garden is divided into seven areas, each with their own horticulturist to design, plant and maintain it. This contributes to the variety of design and planting across the garden. What I really liked about Chanticleer was the informality and "lived in" look. It also had a whimsical feel about it, in some of the planting, sculptures such as the pottery bamboo complete with snails crawling up the stems, the books carved in stone in the library ruin.

There was too much to describe here so I will give you a brief illustrated tour, just a hint of what we saw.

Chanticleer logo
Entrance Courtyard The Tennis Court Garden

Entrance Courtyard

The Tennis Court Garden

Cut flower and vegetable garden Beautiful horticultural-themed bench

Cut Flower and Vegetable Garden

Beautiful horticultural-themed carved bench

The Serpentine Pond garden

The Serpentine

Pond Garden

Steps down to the pond garden Planting around the pond garden

Steps leading down to the Pond Garden

Planting around the Pond Garden

White garden Tree with underplanting

White terrace overlooking the Pond Garden

Tree with complementary underplanting

Chanticleer House and Terraces Drinks on the Terrace

Chanticleer House

Drinks on the Terrace

Supper on the lawn Suppertime

Supper on the lawn

Supper time

Our reception and picnic supper was served on the terrace of the house. It was especially nice in that a number of people from Chanticleer and also from gardens we had visited during the week joined us.

Jeff, Joe and David, not to mention many other friends and helpers, put in a huge effort both prior to and during our conference and visit and we send our thanks to you all. We must also thank a number of organizations, especially Swarthmore College, Longwood Gardens and Chanticleer, for contributing resources and sponsoring various events.

On Sunday morning the post-conference tour of Virginia set off from our hotel in West Chaster whilst the rest of us made our separate ways back home.

Jeff, David and Joe
And so I finish this, the fifth and last of my informal reports, with the group photo, taken very fittingly in the garden of Jeff, Joe and David. You will be able to read much more in Clematis International 2015.
Group Photo - US2014

For the first of these personal reports, covered the first couple of days of the pre-meeting visit to Georgia for "A Taste of Viorna", please click Part 1. For the second installment, concluding our pre-meeting visit to Georgia, please click Part 2. For the third installment, covering our first two days in Pennsylvania, please click Part 3.and for the fourth, covering the middle two days in Pennsylvania, please click Part 4

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