November 21, 2023
On the final day of the Philadelphia Area Fling in late September, we stopped at Paxson Hill Farm in New Hope, Pennsylvania, to tour its marvelous garden behind the nursery. Even though Tropical Storm Ophelia had made garden-touring rather sodden (but still plenty fun!), I knew Paxson Hill was worth donning the poncho and exploring every nook and cranny. How? Because I’d visited before, in October 2021, on the recommendation of James Golden. I set off at once for the farthest path, which beckoned beyond spiky-hairdo containers of phormium.
Blackberry lily showing off its namesake fruits
Two paths diverge — which to take? You’re faced with this difficult choice throughout Paxson Hill’s gardens, with each path offering an equally appealing option. Just pick one!
Both times I’ve visited Paxson Hill in autumn, when tall grasses arch their feathery plumes over the paths.
Another choice to make as I neared the Asian-inspired pond garden
Such wonderful foliage texture and color, with rounded boulders as accents
Not to mention the inky trunks of trees in the rain
A pair of black, motel-style chairs on a small deck overlooks the pond, but you can’t see the water from here.
Pushing on through bent grasses
An arching bridge indicates water ahead.
Let’s walk across…
…and finally enjoy a view of the pond and a low waterfall spilling into it.
A beautiful reward for exploration
From behind the waterfall, a view of the bridge is framed by grasses and trees.
I love the grassy textures and early fall color.
A mellow wind chime gently tolls under a tree.
Seedpods and yellowing foliage
In the heart of the garden, a weeping tree hides a secret, subterranean room.
Arching stone gateposts mark the entrance to the space, where a cauldron-like vessel of water sits in the center of a stone patio. It all seems fit for a gathering of druids.
The door stands open, so let’s go inside.
Entrance to the hobbit house
Inside and down a few steps, and you find yourself in a round hideaway, with a skylight illuminating a crisscrossing arrangement of strings and a crystal over a well-like water feature. Hobbits might have made it all a bit cozier with overstuffed armchairs and piles of books, but it’s a whimsical space to discover.
Looking out, through the fringe of weeping foliage
Another weeping tree arches over the path ahead, inviting you onward.
Up next: Part 2 of my visit to Paxson Hill Farm, including a sculpture garden and fun and games. For a look back at Barbara Tiffany’s Mill Fleurs garden, click here.
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Hey, Austin-area gardeners! Want to learn about growing a biodiverse hedge for screening your yard, adding wildlife habitat, and making a more ecological choice than a fence? Register for my next Garden Spark talk with Shaney Clemmons on December 7th at 7 pm. Come get ideas for what to plant that’ll withstand our Central Texas weather extremes. Plus it’s fun to hang out with fellow gardeners under the big live oak and string lights at beautiful Barton Springs Nursery! Hope to see you there!
Come learn about garden design from the experts at Garden Spark! I organize in-person talks by inspiring designers, landscape architects, and authors a few times a year in Austin. These are limited-attendance events that sell out quickly, so join the Garden Spark email list to be notified in advance; simply click this link and ask to be added. The Season 7 lineup can be found here.
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