2207 Harcourt Drive (1993, 2002)


This lovely Georgian Revival house was built in 1906 as part of the new development of Ambler Heights. It was featured on the 1993 Heights Heritage Tour, where particular attention was called to its grand staircase, which had just been restored to its former glory. While visiting the first floor tourgoers are invited to ascend the staircase and view the garden from the French windows on the landing. Here one experiences the integration of interior and exterior spaces. The garden is an intrinsic extension of the home to be enjoyed just as the treasured collection of oil paintings of flowers, landscapes and portraits by the owner's great aunt which adorn the walls. Before leaving the house, notice the elegant fireplace with corniced columns in the living room, the style of which is repeated in the unique arts and crafts mahogany credenza in the dining room.


Inspired by a 1996 garden tour to England, the homeowners decided to completely redesign the backyard which began by removing the existing asphalt circular driveway. A white picket fence was installed with the intent to obscure the remaining part of the driveway and provide a backdrop for a cottage garden of annuals and perennials. An arch, now totally engulfed in clematis, "Duchess of Albany", and sheltering a robin's nest, provides a romantic segue to and from the garden.


One is asked to imagine a summer garden in full bloom. Perennials such as penstemon, yarrow, balloon flower, veronica, thalictrum, delphinium, phlox, monarda and oriental lilies as well as self seeders like nicotiana, feverfew and larkspur share the border with old fashioned annuals such as zinnias, cosmos, salvia and ageratum. Clematis and roses bloom intermittently. It is a veritable garden "bouquet" at its peak in July.


Along the fence on the north side is a mixed sun and shade border. At the sunnier end, daylilies, sedum, "Autumn Joy", goatsbeard, bleeding heart, filipendula and asters share space with ornamental grasses, barberry spirea, and a fairy rose bush ľall preceded by bulbs in the spring and interlaced with anemones in the late summer. Further back the border becomes shadier with hydrangeas and rhododendrums intermixed with ferns, astilbes, giant solomon's seal, thalictrum and lenton rose.


Tucked in the back corner through a pergula laden with sweet autumn clematis, a "fairy garden" offers a cool respite from the heat of summer afternoon. A surprise illusion on the carriage house beckons the visitor into another garden of hostas, astilbes, ferns and witchhazel bushes. Little whimsical sculptural objects are glimpsed between plants.


As you are leaving, one more border garden begs your attention. Along the driveway, Joe Pye weed and red twig dogwood vie for space. Further along, three varieties of buddleia, and ornamental grasses drape over spent peony bushes. A butterfly house is nestled among the buddleia awaiting its elusive occupants.




Fourteen varieties of hostas

Cast toadstools in the fairy garden, plus a morel mushroom

Some hidden fairies among the plantings

Robin's nest in the arch