Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Barnes Arboretum #10

On my way out of the gardens I decided to take a lilac lined path to the gallery building.  I passed an arbor covered in purple wisteria with chairs ready for a bit more quiet contemplation.

The last nature in bloom were the lovely rare white wisteria hugging the walls of the empty building.  The gardens, were carefully planned by Laura Barnes to reflect the paintings collected by Albert Barnes.  The paintings however are no longer waiting just inside the door of the gallery.


Friday, May 23, 2014

Barnes Arboretum #9

While strolling through the gardens coming in the other direction I saw many things I had missed on the way down.  The thoughtful way one is led through the gardens amplifies the experience.  Tomorrow - to the gallery.

Thursday, May 22, 2014

Barnes Arboretum #8

The trees gradually thin out as you leave the forest and some prize specimens can be appreciated in all their shapely glory.

Back to the formal gardens the vista up the gentle slope is quite different.  The arbor beckons at the very top of the garden and the 'rooms' open up again.

Tomorrow new details of the plantings appear.

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Barnes Arboretum #7

Now, inside the woods I followed a stream to the Koi pool.  There is an iron bench there and as I settled in to enjoy the setting a profound stillness enveloped me.  I sat for a long time simply watching the circles of water that were being created by the insects as they dropped in and out of the pool.  It was a naturally meditative state that is rare but deeply satisfying.
Laura Barnes' cabin was reflected in the water.   As I left I peeked in the window, only to see the garden reflected back at me.  What solace she must have found in this place.

Tomorrow on the way out.

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Barnes Arboretum #6

As you come to the end of the formal gardens there is an open space where some beautiful unusual trees are planted, but on this trip I decided to examine them on the way out of the woods which were calling to me.
These woods are simply a relatively small dense patch of trees which, none the less, have all the mystery of a larger forest.  There is a big difference however as they are cared for, so they don't have vines strangling the trees or bushes and trees crowding each other.  This is a garden forest with paths and planned wild flowers.

If you look up or down you are rewarded by nature that has been lovingly cared for for a long time.  Tomorrow the Koi pond and Laura Barnes' retreat.

Monday, May 19, 2014

Barnes Arboretum #5

Before we go into the woods at the Barnes Arboretum I would like to say something about the way one is led through the gardens.  The paths not only invite you from one area to another, they are beautiful in themselves.  The geometry of the gardens is carefully designed to lead your eye and then your footsteps through a series of openings and closings.  It felt to me like breathing in nature.  First the vista expands then it contracts to lead you to the next space.

 Some of the stone paths are beautifully designed.

They all lead to another place to look with its own special beauty.

Tomorrow - into the woods.

Friday, May 16, 2014

Barnes Arboretum #4

The open spaces at the Barnes Arboretum are surrounded by low walls.  This gives the feeling of being comfortably surrounded without being enclosed.  The details in these spaces are carefully thought out and executed.  There is a delight for the eye at every turn.

Thursday, May 15, 2014

Barnes Arboretum #3

Back to the open symmetry of the formal gardens one walks from one level to another, gradually moving down the gently sloping property through three distinct "rooms".  Each with a different center piece and each having unique characteristics.  In the background of all are the towering trees,  the beckoning woods and the sweet scent of lilacs.

Room #1

Room #2

Room #3

Trees in the background

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Barnes Arboretum #2

After you pass through the arch of the arbor at the Barnes gardens you see down the expanse of the carefully laid out tiers of plantings.  The space is surrounded by stone walls and in the background are huge trees.  It is a symmetrical formal garden.

Around the walls are other paths lined with lilacs.  I opted to first walk down these paths to get a whiff of as many lilacs as possible.  This path is an intimate space, it felt like a secret tunnel of pleasure.  Lilacs of every shade were in full bloom.  Over 100 varieties are included in the collection.

Looking back at the arbor on the path.  Tomorrow into the formal gardens.

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Barnes Arboretum

On Sunday to treat myself on Mother's Day.  I went to the newly opened Barnes Foundation in Merion's arboretum.  I had not been through the grounds for years as it has not been open. 

It was a perfect day and I knew the lilacs would be in bloom.  I went at 10:00 and was the only person there at that time.  It was absolutely silent except for the birds chattering and the low hum of insects.  The aroma from the hundreds of lilacs was intoxicating. The beauty of the meticulously cared for gardens was staggering.  I was moved to tears by the experience.  In the next few days I will try to capture some of what I felt there.  I took pictures of everything but when I came home and looked at them they simply didn't get it.  Maybe later I will paint what I experienced but for now words and photos will try and recapture those moments.

There is something about being alone in someone else's garden that is a little scary and quite wonderful.  As I walked into the space, along the path leading into the formal gardens, I felt the magic of the place rising up to meet me.

The gardens are tiered and the path leads past some glorious trees down  through an arbor.  The arbor frames the entrance to the wider experience.

More tomorrow.

Thursday, May 8, 2014

Marsh Marigolds

6" x 8"
oil on canvas board

It looks like a rainy day so I can get back to painting and let all my transplants settle into the garden.  Still plenty to do.  The spring is such a beautiful time to paint but the garden must be dealt with now or the whole summer is spent regretting.  I pulled plenty of these beauties out of my flower beds this year.  They have a brief moment and then they take over.  One great thing about a lovely "weed", you know it will be back again no matter how many you pull.  I wish that were true of the not so lovely ones!  You can find this painting at Graver's Lane Gallery now.

Monday, May 5, 2014

Grape Hyacinths

6" x 8"
oil on canvas board

Blue Hyacinths symbolize constancy, and they are a constant pleasure in my garden, where they slowly mulitply every year. My gardening continues, so I am not painting, but this painting is still blooming and can be found at Graver's Lane Gallery.

Sunday, May 4, 2014


Nancy Herman
6" x 8"
oil on canvas board

The crocuses (not croci because it is a 
Greek word) are gone in the garden but still blooming in Chestnut Hill at the Chestnut Hill Home and Garden Festival. Today May 4th from 11 to 5.
This painting is framed and ready to adorn your walls at Graver's Lane Gallery.