SPRING AT BOX HILL

Since I plan to relocate in the coming months I am particularly sensitive to this spring and what spring has brought to my life all the years in this house.  It has always been a favored season of mine beginning with the slight, tentative, feathery foliage of the emerging tree leaves.  Soon the leaves are full and painted against the sky leaving only moving swathes of light here and there.

Then the dogwoods  appear up and down the streets.  Saturated pinks and whites, the richest of which was given to us years ago by a friend and planted by my late wife, Marty Lou.  Next arrive the wild violets, the vinca, and the delicate and fragrant lily-of-the-valley, again all planted by Marty, sometimes to my regret as I have had to fight their invasive tendancies. 

My daughters would pick lily-of-the-valley, resulting in crushed bouquets for Mother’s Day.  Now I invite the little girls across the street, Sophie and Chloe, to do the same.  A neighborhood friend (a friendship as old as the house) would also pick a bouquet every spring;  she is not well and her bouquet was unpicked this year and I’m sad about that.  The kids have moved out, friends leave, I’m leaving.  But the lily-of-the-valley remain and there are seasons to come.  I think that’s nice.

Next on the spring schedule are the delicate wild azaleas.  I have a half dozen of them on the grounds; they were here in the woods before I came along and they survived the house construction.  They’re not as splashy as their hybridized cousins;  they’re quietly understated and quite satisfied with that, thank you.

As the wild azaleas finish their show their splashy cousins begin to emerge and what a pleasure they are to the eye.  Here’s one having its purpose helped by a honey-maker, a mutually beneficial relationship.

After the azaleas have peaked my clematis shouts “Look at me now; I’m beautiful.”  Talk about a saturated color.  They’re growing on the arbor Marty had me erect to give the back patio some isolation.  I don’t sit out there much anymore but it’s a nice feature.

About this time the first of my rhododendrons open their blossoms.  Last winter they were arched to the ground under ice coats on shriveled leaves.  They survived and I’m now enjoying lots of lush, rich colored bloom.  Moral:  Hang in!

Next and bountifully beautiful is the mountain laurel blooming every year around Memorial Day.  The amount of bloom varies from year to year, seeming to peak every two years.  When it does it forms a canopy on the thicket alongside the house, almost a blanket of these exquisite miniature umbrellas.  The thicket comes right up to my bedroom window and I’m greeted by armful-sized bouquets.

A blanket of mountain laurel.

 I enjoy a coffee while taking all of this in on the front patio, remembering how the girls hauled the bricks to the work area and I laid each and every brick.  I walk about and see the tiny blossoms on the holly trees, some already fruited, and the flower heads of the pyracantha, both promising flashes of red in the fall, both saying “There’s a future.”  The Nantucket Rose which Marty dragged back from Cape Cod is blooming and, as usual, the aphids are enjoying it.

While I’m truly excited about the next phase of my life at Medford Leas, I’m going to miss spring at Box Hill.  But, just as the seasons progress, so must I, and I know spring will be just as beautiful all over the Medford Leas campus.  I’ll tell you about it next spring.

 

Laurel blossoms and the Glen at Box Hill

THE AZALEA WOODS AT WINTERTHUR

Three years ago I visited the March Bank at Winterthur.  That was before I began this journal so I never posted on what I found there.  It was spectacular.  H. F. DuPont created magnificent gardens on his “Country Estate,” Winterthur.  The March Bank, a part of it, contains thousands of “Glory of the Snow”…Chionodoxa Lucilliae, and Siberian Squill…Scilla Siberica, all of which blanket the hillsides in a stunning March display of lush color.  Here is one image from that visit, and more can be seen in the gallery I made at that time. 

The Winterthur March Bank

During that visit I was told that the azaleas would be in bloom in May in their section of the landscape known as Azalea Woods.  Well it took three years but we finally returned and it was  superb.  We took the 25 minute tram ride from the Vistor’s Center which gives one an overview of the main gardens.  Then we returned to Azalea Woods and browsed.

 Every effort was made to create informal forest scenes.  There are curved paths through the woods and ’round every bend there is another beautiful scene.  Intermixed in the ground cover there are clusters of wild flowers including white, yellow and red Trillium and other flowers beyond my botanical knowledge to identify.

Many plants are old enough to be well up towards the tree canopy, and one can stand under them for yet another experience.

For others, I confess to having hunkered down in order to shoot up into back lit blossoms.

Two-winged Silver Bell

 

It was a rewarding and enjoyable visit.  In about two weeks the Peony Garden will be in bloom.  We saw the swollen buds waiting for a little more sunshine.  Meanwhile, there were just plenty of azaleas to enjoy amongst the tall trees and the emerging forest bed greenery.

A SOUTH JERSEY RAMBLE

There was to be a story telling session among oystermen at the Bayshore Discovery Project’s Bivalve Center.  This is a part of the country I always enjoy and have previously reported on in this journal.  So, I went down but didn’t stay for many stories; there was too much of a draw from scenes to be photographed.  As usual, an iconic spot, the 1849 East Point Lighthouse drew me.

The 1849 East Point Lighthouse on the Maurice River.

 There was lots of activity and traffic at the Wawa at the intersection of Route 47 and County Road 670 which leads to Mauricetown.  When I inquired of a local I learned that Mauricetown was having its annual yard sale.  I think of these as places where stuff just moves from one house to another but you never know.  In any event I was also pleased finally to pick up from the local their pronounciation of Mauricetown.  It’s Marstown where the s is hard as in “say”.  No more Morristown or Moorestown.

On the way into town I stopped at one of my favorite locations, a small old barn right by a tidal creek, graced this day by a branch of wisteria.  Come, set here a while.

The docks at the Bivalve Center are usually the home port of the A. J. Meerwald, the 1928 restored Delaware Bay oyster schooner but she was away this weekend.  The adjacent oyster shipping sheds were originally built in 1904 by the Jersey Central Railroad.  A token of those days is the old boxcar which has been converted to rest rooms.  The sheds, themselves, are shored up here and there but in better shape than this inhabitant.  It’s too easy to pun about this old vessel, the Cashier.

 

Nearby to Bivalve are the still active commercial shell fish processing plants.  The residual rotting tissue on the shells produces one of the most overpowering disgusting odors I’ve ever experienced.  What’s interesting is that the odor particles adhered to my car and, notwithanding a car wash, are still detectable.   The gulls are impervious.

I can’t leave you with that  image.  Rather, the wisteria is in bloom all over and lovely.