WALKIN’ BY MYSELF (thanks to Jimmie Rogers)
As regular readers of these newsletters know, I love walking. I love walking on country roads, walking in the woods, walking in the downtowns of cities-I just love walking. These days I am enjoying walking in the morning around Chestnut Hill, Mt Airy and Germantown; walking and looking and noticing. And I notice a lot. I love discovering little alleyways that have hidden garages and hidden entrances to apartments and little hidden gardens. Chestnut Hill is especially fertile in this area, and it is always a joy to discover another hidden gem. I also love looking at doors and porches-the different ways people can design an entrance and make a border between private and public areas. What I most love, though, is the gardens I get to see and marvel at. The three neighborhoods I walk in most frequently are awash in wonderful plantings that are for the most part homeowner designed, produced and maintained. And because of that these gardens provide wonderful and surprising scenery and beauty along my favorite routes. They are my wonderful morning gifts that I get as I walk those neighborhoods.
There are many directions to take when I go walking. Should I head south to Germantown there are long-east west streets with front yards that are narrow but deep. People trend to plant a variety of long stemmed plants in these plots: lavender, tulips, different lilies, and more. The gardens are a mix of bright colors, and they often lead right up to the porch or the house, brightly showing the way. The colors are a wonderful mix of oranges, shades of blues and yellow, and more. It is a veritable carnival of color, and I love the scenes those different color combinations often produce. Mt, Airy and Chestnut Hill also have a number of long north-south streets. Many of the gardens on those streets are planted in wonderful lateral jumbles with a patch of one bright or solid color here, and patches of other colors planted in different sections of the space. They also feature more grasses and shrubs. The plots may be planted in straight lines along a border or along a driveway, but the plantings often exceed the space, almost as if they are fighting to get free. They seem to be threatening to burst well beyond a given plot’s dimensions, and they seem joyously and wondrously wild. There are also bushes shrubs, pots and grasses that add a wonderful air of solidity to certain plots. There are no two plots that look even remotely the same. Each one offers its own unique take on color and shape and the use of space. Often the houses with porches have plants in pots on the porches, aesthetically placed to draw attention to a rocking chair or provide an accent for a porch swing. One of my favorite such porches on West Rittenhouse Street also seems to always have a cat out sitting near the chairs as if posing for a greeting card picture. That always makes me smile.
In terms of types of plants, lilies, tulips lavender and roses seem to be the popular plantings this year in the Northwestern section of the city. I am constantly surprised at the number of varieties of lily there are, at the different ways lavender looks depending on the shape and color of what it is placed next to, and how “proud and mighty” tulips can look. Noticing all of this makes my walk refreshing and joyous and gives my day a great start.
So I truly love my morning walks. They settle me, energize me, and get my day off to a great start. Now that the humidity has broken I can go out for longer walks and I can spend even more time marveling at all the different ways people answer the perpetual question, “What shall I do with this plot of earth?” There are so many ways that question gets answered, and I am enjoying the sweep and beauty of all of those answers. Happy Walking!
(Here are some photos of some of the gardens I pass)