Early autumn at Hedgleigh Spring garden

September 29, 2023

At the Philadelphia Area Fling last week, after touring Belvidere, we visited another private garden in Swarthmore with a grand name, Hedgleigh Spring. Happily, the 2-acre garden on a pretty, tree-lined street is far more approachable than its name might suggest, although it does have the pedigree of having been filmed by Monty Don for his show on American gardens.

Most unusual for an American garden is that owner and plantsman Charles Cresson is the 4th generation of his family to reside here, and he nurtures and has expanded on the garden created by his grandfather William. The property is part of a 20-acre parcel bought by his great-grandfather Ezra in 1883. “The name Hedgleigh was inspired by the Osage orange hedges that bordered the property at the time,” according to The Swarthmorean.

I headed straight for the backyard, where the garden action is. In the center, a rectangular lawn is bordered on all sides by an interesting mix of shrubs, perennials, and even Texas native Sabal minor.

Hello, Texas dwarf palmetto, old friend! I also appreciated the planted-up stone steps leading to the lawn. Philadelphia-area gardeners, I noticed, generously employ gray granite throughout their gardens the way we Central Texas gardeners use our white limestone. It makes up walls, steps, and paths…

…and so many old buildings. This stone structure — a garage? a shed? — enjoys the added charm of a mossy roof.

I wandered through garden rooms, enjoying the early fall scene of leaves just starting to turn as roses and other summer lovers were still in flower.

A classic picket fence sets off the lawn border.

Grass paths lead the eye to potted focal points…

…with plenty of attractions along the way.

A handsome granite sunburst marks a stair down to a mossy path.

The path runs straight to a wire gate, which someone told me leads to a stream or pond. I should have taken a peek myself.

But I was distracted by the moss, a rare sight for this Texas gardener.

Cyclamen growing out of cracks in a rock wall

A collection of bonsai cleverly perched on cinderblocks was a fun surprise near the rear of the garden.

I love a good bonsai.

And a good agave!

Up next: Part 1 of my tour of the horticultural showplace that is Longwood Gardens, starting with the grand conservatory. For a look back at Andrew Bunting’s Belvidere garden, click here.

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Tour several Austin gardens on Saturday, November 4, on the Garden Conservancy’s Open Day tour for Travis County. Tickets must be purchased online in advance and will be available beginning September 1st.

All material © 2023 by Pam Penick for Digging. Unauthorized reproduction prohibited.


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