Paxson Hill garden still gorgeous in the rain

Paxson Hill garden still gorgeous in the rain

November 21, 2023

On the final day of the Philadelphia Area Fling in late September, we stopped at Paxson Hill Farm in New Hope, Pennsylvania, to tour its marvelous garden overdue the nursery. Even though Tropical Storm Ophelia had made garden-touring rather sodden (but still plenty fun!), I knew Paxson Hill was worth donning the poncho and exploring every nook and cranny. How? Because I’d visited before, in October 2021, on the recommendation of James Golden. I set off at once for the uttermost path, which beckoned vastitude spiky-hairdo containers of phormium.

Blackberry lily showing off its namesake fruits

Bridge Garden

Two paths diverge — which to take? You’re faced with this difficult nomination throughout Paxson Hill’s gardens, with each path offering an equally well-flavored option. Just pick one!

Both times I’ve visited Paxson Hill in autumn, when tall grasses wily their feathery plumes over the paths.

Another nomination to make as I neared the Asian-inspired swimming garden

Such wonderful foliage texture and color, with rounded boulders as accents

Not to mention the inky trunks of trees in the rain

A pair of black, motel-style chairs on a small deck overlooks the pond, but you can’t see the water from here.

Pushing on through wilting grasses

An arching underpass indicates water ahead.

Let’s walk across…

…and finally enjoy a view of the swimming and a low waterfall spilling into it.

A trappy reward for exploration

One more

From overdue the waterfall, a view of the underpass is framed by grasses and trees.

I love the grassy textures and early fall color.

A mellow wind tinkle gently tolls under a tree.

Seedpods and yellowing foliage

Hobbit House

In the heart of the garden, a weeping tree hides a secret, subterranean room.

Arching stone gateposts mark the archway to the space, where a cauldron-like vessel of water sits in the part-way of a stone patio. It all seems fit for a gathering of druids.

The door stands open, so let’s go inside.

Entrance to the hobbit house

Inside and lanugo a few steps, and you find yourself in a round hideaway, with a skylight illuminating a crisscrossing wattle of strings and a crystal over a well-like water feature. Hobbits might have made it all a bit cozier with overstuffed armchairs and piles of books, but it’s a whimsical space to discover.

Looking out, through the fringe of weeping foliage

Another weeping tree arches over the path ahead, inviting you onward.

Up next: Part 2 of my visit to Paxson Hill Farm, including a temple garden, swamp, and amphitheater. For a squint when at Barbara Tiffany’s Mill Fleurs garden, click here.

I welcome your comments. Please scroll to the end of this post to leave one. If you’re reading in an email, click here to visit Digging and find the scuttlebutt box at the end of each post. And hey, did someone forward this email to you, and you want to subscribe? Click here to get Digging delivered directly to your inbox!


Digging Deeper

Come learn well-nigh garden diamond from the experts at Garden Spark! I organize in-person talks by inspiring designers, landscape architects, and authors a few times a year in Austin. These are limited-attendance events that sell out quickly, so join the Garden Spark email list to be notified in advance; simply click this link and ask to be added. The Season 7 lineup can be found here.

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