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A Visit to Carolyn’s Shade Gardens

April 26, 2011

Recently, I had the opportunity to travel to Carolyn’s Shade Gardens in Bryn Mawr, Pennsylvania and to spend the day with Carolyn and with Jan from Thanks for Today. Although the previous day had featured torrential rains and flash flooding, the day of our visit dawned sunny and clear (if a bit cool), a perfect day for meeting new friends and visiting new gardens.

Entrance to Carolyn's Shade Gardens (photo credit: Jean Potuchek) After months of enjoying Carolyn’s blog posts, dreaming over her plant listings, and salivating over her plant photos, it was a treat to actually see the nursery. The inviting entrance pictured above takes you down the stairs from the driveway and into the gardens, which slope downward away from the house.  We probably could have spent the entire day just touring Carolyn’s Shade Gardens; there were so many treats to see and so many new plants to learn about.

Daffodils in bloom at Carolyn's Shade Gardens (photo credit: Jean Potuchek) There were spring bulbs in bloom. And, of course, a wonderful variety of hellebores.

Hellebores in bloom at Carolyn's Shade Gardens (photo credit: Jean Potuchek)

I was particularly taken with this blue combination of Virginia bluebells (Mertensia virginica) and Brunnera. (Carolyn, if I got that wrong, please correct me.) Virginia bluebells and Brunnera at Carolyn's Shade Gardens (photo credit: Jean Potuchek)
Italian arum at Carolyn's Shade Gardens (photo credit: Jean Potuchek) And also with the foliage combination of this beautiful Italian Arum (a new plant for me) and a spotted Pulmonaria (lungwort).
And who could resist this stunning Asian Jack-in-the-Pulpit (Arisaema sikokianum)? Asian Arisaema at Carolyn's Shade Gardens (photo credit: Jean Potuchek)

At the end of a wonderful day, Jan and I took advantage of the opportunity to buy some of Carolyn’s plants for our own gardens. I came away with four plants for my small garden in Gettysburg, and Jan made some great purchases for her woodland garden in Virginia.

There are times when you meet people for the first time and feel instantly that you are with old friends; this was one of those occasions. We all have a Maine connection, and Carolyn and Jan turned out to have an amazing number of friends and acquaintances in common. More importantly, we all share a passion for gardening and plants and a commitment to gardening sustainably. We laughed at the evidence below that this was truly a meet-up of sustainable garden bloggers – our three different vintages of Toyota Prius hybrid cars, lined up side-by-side in Carolyn’s driveway.

Prius line-up (photo credit: Jean Potuchek) I know that I will make other opportunities to spend time with these wonderful new friends. Thanks, Carolyn and Jan, for a glorious day.

20 Comments leave one →
  1. April 26, 2011 7:16 am

    Jean, Diana will be so happy, and so am I–great post. It really was funny that we all drove Priuses and went to Maine. The jack-in-the-pulpit is Arisaema sikokianum. When are you two coming back? Carolyn

    • April 29, 2011 8:42 pm

      Carolyn, I’m glad you are happy with the post; I always find it a little nervous-making writing about another blogger’s garden. Thanks for the identification on the Arisaema. I think we should meet next time in Maine :-).

  2. April 26, 2011 9:08 am

    Jean, what a lovely day you had. Thanks for sharing the photos. Gardening friends are just the best.

  3. April 26, 2011 9:38 am

    I love the great minds think alike, you three all drive the same car!

    And if I could, I would buy one of your Italian arums. It’s on my wish list. We have rain! So we will be heading for a nursery soonest.

  4. April 26, 2011 10:01 am

    Jean how wonderful you 3 got to meet and spend the day…I am also hoping to get down to Carolyn’s nursery this year…I love that you all drive the same car…

    • April 29, 2011 8:49 pm

      Diane, Diana, and Donna, I’m happy to provide the virtual visit — even if it is only a pale shadow of the real thing.

      Diane, I agree; gardening friends are the best — which I think makes garden blogging friends the best of the best.

      Diana, I hope you’ve had a chance to indulge in rain-prompted plant shopping. I can see why the Italian arum is on your wish list; what a gorgeous plant! I thought about adding it to my Maine garden, but when I did some research I realized that it isn’t cold hardy to survive there. I’ll just have to enjoy it in other people’s gardens.

      Donna, The car thing was really funny. I hope you get a chance to get to Carolyn’s nursery; it is definitely worth the trip.

  5. April 26, 2011 10:46 am

    Lovely photos Jean, and the last one really is quite amusing! It is funny sometimes when meeting other bloggers with similar interests for the first time, how you can feel like old friends. I’m looking forward to seeing your new plants!

  6. April 26, 2011 11:11 am

    Sounds like you met some kindred spirits. I love the shot of the vintage Priuses lined up like that. That blue combination is indeed charming.

    • April 29, 2011 8:55 pm

      Clare and Meredith, We couldn’t resist the car photo. This is the second time I’ve met virtual friends in person, and both times there was an instant comfort level — probably not surprising since what brought us together is a shared passion.

      Clare, my new plants are still sitting in their pots by my patio; but I’ve set aside time this weekend for weeding, planting and mulching. It will be great to get new plants in the ground and to get my garden hear tidied up for a new season.

      Meredith, It pleases me that you could see the charm in that blue combination; I felt as though my photo didn’t really do it justice.

  7. April 26, 2011 11:27 am

    A wonderful post about a wonderful day at a wonderful place;-) Of course, it was way more than ‘wonderful’;-) Still thinking about our time together and will write a post of my own…soon;-) Hey, I have that same last photo! That was, indeed, an awesome coincidence!

    • April 29, 2011 8:57 pm

      Jan, LOL, Do you think I used the word “wonderful” a lot in this post? You should have seen the earlier drafts! Even after a couple of revisions, I discovered that I had the word “wonderful” three times in one sentence! I had to look for some synonyms and revise again before I could publish the post. It will be great to see your post when you get to it. I’m sure it will be wonderful ;-).

  8. April 26, 2011 12:17 pm

    How fun … what lovely/lasting memories. Yes, and who could resist stunning Asian Jack-in-the-Pulpit (Arisaema)!

  9. April 26, 2011 8:35 pm

    Looks like a lovely day was had by everyone. I am consistently amazed at how blogging has brought together so many people in their real lives. Blogger flings, tours and meetings. How wonderful that everyone seems to get along so well in real life as well as in the virtual world.

    • April 29, 2011 9:07 pm

      Joey and Marguerite, “Fun” and “lovely” are both very appropriate adjectives to describe this day. I came home feeling like I’d been away on a very relaxing vacation.

      Joey, Isn’t that Arisaema amazing? It was a plant I had never seen before. It’s little “jack” looked to me like a miniature lightbulb!

      Marguerite, When I started blogging, I didn’t anticipate the way that writing a blog would involve the development of virtual friendships and the ease with which those virtual friendships can be converted into in-person friendships. I find it amazing to have such an extensive network of people that I can look forward to meeting if/when I travel to their part of the world. (I haven’t been to PEI in many years, but maybe I should consider it. ;-))

  10. April 27, 2011 8:36 am

    Thanks for sharing the photos! That’s a charming front walkway. Funny side note about the Priuses. My husband and I own a Prius, too. We joke about Chapel Hill as having high Priuses per capita.

  11. April 28, 2011 4:52 pm

    Jean, thank you for posting this. As you know, I visited Carolyn last month and she was such a great hostess, and her garden was beautiful, especially with the hellebores all in full bloom. These pictures show how quickly her garden is bursting into growth with the arrival of the warmer weather. I would have loved to see that arum italicum, one of my favourite plants. But then all of Carolyn’s plants seem to be favourites of mine…

  12. April 29, 2011 4:05 pm

    It sounds like you all had a treat of a day. The garden is lovely. There is nothing like some gardeners getting together in a garden. 🙂

    • April 29, 2011 9:13 pm

      Sheila and Jill, I’m happy that you enjoyed the photos.

      Sheila, That entrance is so inviting; it really does just draw you in irresistibly.

      Jill, I love the fact that you’ve been to Carolyn’s garden and you can picture it but also see it differently from how it looked when you were there earlier in the season.

      Michelle, You’re right; there’s nothing like getting together with other gardeners in a garden. And in this case, the pleasure was doubled (or maybe quadrupled) because we each got together with two other gardeners and we spent time together in two gardens (Carolyn’s and Chanticleer)!

  13. April 30, 2011 6:46 am

    You made me curious, I have now added the places that 33 degrees north circles thru. Taking the kids to the snow, is exactly why someone came searching to my blog ;~)

  14. Lula ( permalink
    May 9, 2011 12:03 pm

    It’s such a great pleasure see the images of Carolyn’s garden from your perspective! You must have had a great day!

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