Today we’re visiting with Mark Klempner in Philadelphia.
I have a bit of a special situation: I live in a rental apartment with a substantial private garden. I’m in the Chestnut Hill section of Philadelphia. In 2016 I sold a large home with an even larger garden so as to have more time for other things. I lucked out, though, and found an apartment with a few hundred square feet of outdoor space.
Some friends a mile away had a huge amount of Wissahickon schist, a local stone, lying all over their backyard from a partial renovation of their home. They wanted to get rid of it. I made about a dozen trips in my compact car, driving slowly with what I felt was a safe load each time.
This being a near-total shade garden, I had to concentrate on appropriate plants, and of course could not grow many varieties that I was used to. For strong color I relied on impatiens, begonias, coleus, caladium, and others.
Since I’m shaded by white pines with shallow roots, in areas without beds I use containers. I’ve bought quite a few ceramic pots, but I get more enjoyment from finding unusual containers, often in curbside trash or cheaply at yard sales.
Curbside hunting has also yielded a great amount of found objects that I place throughout the garden and enjoy more than the containers. Getting so much for so little money allows me to spend more at salvage shops for sculptural items such as armillaries and an antique lightning rod.
We have an annual event here called the Mt. Airy Learning Tree Hidden Gardens Tour. My garden was on the tour in 2022 along with eight others. Over 400 visitors came through that day. I was told by a tour arranger that my garden generated more comments than all the others combined.
A floating flower arrangement
Have a garden you’d like to share?
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