Wednesday, April 13, 2016

Restoring an English Garden at Veblen House

The closer one looks, the more treasures one finds on the grounds of Veblen House. The sugar maples were blooming ever so subtly on our March 13 workday.

More showy were the snowdrops, likely planted by Elizabeth Veblen and her gardening friends, as part of an English garden that transitioned into the wilder woodland beyond in Herrontown Woods. Now that the grounds are cleared of invasive shrubs, it's clear that the snowdrops follow a berm that forms one of two ovals around the house. The ovals were probably made to divert surface runoff away from the house, but the shape also is reminiscent of a corral for horses. Some historical research is showing that the original owner, Jesse Whiton-Stuart, was a skilled horseman.

Since the diabase boulders of the Princeton Ridge contribute to the beauty of this wild garden, we spent some time cleaning them of vines and leaves.

Here's a 1950s photo of a portion of the grounds, taken when the Veblens were still alive. You can see that Elizabeth, born in England, loved daffodils. Thanks to Bob Wells for this and many other photos that will help us to recreate a semblance of the garden's past glory.

Clusters of daffodils remain, and one of our tasks is to make sure the leaves linger long enough into the summer for the roots to have enough energy to bloom next year.

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