Telling the Truth

connecting the dots of my life

Tag: Longwood Meadow Garden

In praise of meadows

This morning D and I drove out to Longwood Gardens for a visit. Imagine great weather, wonderful breezes, and puffy white clouds floating beneath a bright blue sky.

D is downloading his photos even as I write this. So yes, you’ll get to see some awesome photos later. In the meantime, here’s one of my early poems, written in 2015 after a visit to Longwood’s still new Meadow Garden. D took the photo above during a Meadow visit in August 2014.

By 2015 I’d been retired from the seminary for several years, and had been blogging since late December 2013. I didn’t have much self-confidence, and felt like an odd ball without a home.

Looking at photos taken in Longwood’s Meadow Garden gave me the idea for this poem. For me, the meadow is the highlight of Longwood Gardens. Not the meticulously planted, pruned and displayed wonders of an estate garden, but the wild, unpredictable beauty of a large meadow inhabited by birds, bees, butterflies and other small creatures.

Here’s the poem–unchanged from its first debut.

Is there something to be said
for wild, lightly cultivated gardens—like meadows?
Not showcases of stunning flowers and cultivated flower walks,
But life-giving, naked, raw beauty—
able to withstand harsh weather with grace—
Welcoming visitors of all kinds.

I want to be a meadow garden
With paths for thoughtful feet
Space for tears and laughter
Occasional butterflies and birds,
Spiders, moths, and ‘lesser’ life forms.

Perhaps the wildness of my internal life
Wants to be honored, named and lightly cultivated?
Recovery isn’t about taming life.
It’s about reclaiming it—
The semi-wild meadow
that hears and sees music 24/7.
That’s what I want to be. Living life
naked, lightly cultivated and beautiful.

Thanks for stopping by!

© Elouise Renich Fraser, 16 June 2021 (poem first published in March 2015)
Photo taken by DAFraser, Longwood Meadow Garden, August 2014

Longwood in Early Autumn | Photos 2020

Last week we visited Longwood Gardens Covid-19 Style. Timed tickets, face masks, social distancing, limited facilities and outdoor eating opportunities. But the Meadow didn’t care! So that’s where we spent most of our time. A late celebration of our 55th wedding anniversary. Was it worth it? Yes!

Believe it or not, D took the top photo while we were waiting in line to be admitted. Below is a trained spruce (plus shadows) on the front wall of the Visitor’s Center. We’re not yet in the Gardens. We’re on the patio, snaking our way to the front door. Thankfully, the line kept moving, though at what I would call a snail’s pace. Still, it was mid-morning, with a stiff breeze and cloudless skies.

First we took a quick walk around the main Conservatory. Imagine the sound of water spilling from small fountains and waterfalls. Peaceful and inviting, with only a small handful of visitors. The large formal pool in the first photo is sometimes drained for large social events or dinner parties. Very upscale. No, I’ve never been invited. Nor do I wish to be! The second photo features black Japanese bamboo reaching for the sky as the background for two lovely lanterns.

After watching a water show from the verandah of the Conservatory, we walked over to the Meadow. It was stunning, especially from a distance. Late summer/early autumn overgrowth and seedtime!

Unfortunately, the lovely stiff breeze made it tricky to get clear photos. Nonetheless, D came through! Here are a few of my favorites.

We exited the meadow and crossed the bridge over the pond. I’m standing there studying the algae. The water was almost invisible. Still, paying attention paid off! As you’ll see below. Think tiny baby, larger mama? and maybe great big papa?

The high point of our visit! I can’t begin to describe how exciting it was to spot these creatures! So…Here are my final two photos. D took them near the end of our visit.

I hope this lifts your spirits the way it lifts mine. I was exhausted when we got home. Still, I wouldn’t trade anything for this opportunity to visit Longwood. Especially now.

Thanks for visiting. I’m sending this with prayers for wisdom and courage in the days ahead.

© Elouise Renich Fraser, 28 September 2020
Photos taken by DAFraser at Longwood Gardens, 23 September 2020

Late Spring at Longwood 2019 | Photos B

Walking in the meadow is the opposite of strolling down the flower walk at Longwood. The flower walk fairly screams (in a lovely voice, of course) for you to pay attention. In the meadow the vast fields and expansive sky overwhelm everything. If you want to see what’s happening, you have to keep your eyes peeled. A good photographer helps, too! Without D’s photo above, I might have missed those three tiny blossoms.

Ditto for this unusual display:

Instead of going up through the middle of the meadow, we decided to take a longer walk to a forested area. It’s full of birch trees, has a stream flowing through it, and lower temperatures than the open meadow.

The first photo below features a lovely grassy path. The second is an old farm house converted into an historical museum about this land and its uses over the years. We didn’t walk that far this time. If you visit Longwood, a small tram makes regular trips back and forth to the museum. It’s well worth a visit. Air conditioned, with restrooms.

As we descend toward the birch tree forest, the path looks a bit like a washed out gulley. Even so, the little butterfly didn’t mind! I think it’s a Painted Lady. In the third photo we’re in the wooded area, standing on a small bridge, looking down at mud and debris left over from spring rains.

Below are twisted roots of a tree just beside the creek. They’ve ventured into the water. In the second photo, taken from the opposite side of the bridge, water is flowing downhill over rock formations. Though you can’t see them, hungry mosquitoes are in feast mode! We didn’t linger.

We passed numerous bird houses, with or without roof-top gardens; some with occupants. The two birds below are swallows.

At the top of the meadow this bee hotel had already hatched most of its occupants. A nearby sign explained all.

The meadow has several shaded places to sit down and rest a bit, some fancier than others. Here’s my favorite top-of-the-meadow resting spot. We’re beneath large old shade trees, looking out at the view.

Here are examples of what we saw on the way downhill to the formal gardens, plus a look back at the museum on the far side of the meadow. Don’t miss that juicy grub in the first photo!

Every time we visit Longwood, I get teary when we reach the meadow. Partly because walking in it with D has been part of my recovery from whatever ailed me over the last several years. I remember when it was just a big piece of land, not open as a garden for visitors. Now, every time we leave I’m grateful for one more opportunity to just be there.

As always, thanks for coming along. I hope you enjoy some healing beauty in your life today, along with the other stuff.


©Elouise Renich Fraser, 26 June 2019
Photos taken by DAFraser, 12 June 2019, Longwood Gardens Meadow

Early Spring at Longwood 2019 | Photos B

We’ve exited the flower walk and are headed toward the lake. The photo above shows the lower end of the lake. Thankfully, it was virtually clear of algae and muck. The pink blossoms in the foreground are azaleas.

D took the following photos on the way to the gazebo area above. We’re walking through a forested area, on a path that slopes down toward the lower end of the lake and gazebo (above). It always feels like I’m walking into an outdoor cathedral when we get to this point. The second photo below shows a cinnamon fern. Finally, pink blossoms on one of the few azalea bushes still in bloom.

Now we’ve reached the gazebo shown at the top, and are looking across the water at a robin sitting on her full nest of hungry peeps!

Our main goal now is to stroll around the lake to the pond by the meadow. From the bridge crossing over into the meadow, this is what we saw–a lesson in how to climb a water-logged tree branch!

Now we’ve crossed the pond bridge, and get our first sighting of the meadow. My favorite place to be at Longwood.

We turn right at the path above, navigate a few mud holes, and see a mama and papa pair of Canadian geese by the pond. Then, in the meadow at the edge of the pond, we spot an orchard oriole! Very exciting, since we usually don’t see them. They migrate here for only four months of the year. Finally, just before leaving the pond area, a brilliant North American goldfinch.

Next we make our way uphill toward the far side of the meadow. D takes photos at will. I just keep walking. That way I don’t have to pose for anything!

Just below, we have a red-wing blackbird — super abundant in the meadow, and noisy. Then two photos of a tree swallow guarding the nest.

Now we’re at the top of the path, at a resting place. The pavilion is covered with this honeysuckle-like vine. Then, turning around, this is a view of the meadow, just to our left.

Finally, a gray catbird keeps an eye on us, followed by D’s one and only sighting of a butterfly.

Thanks again for coming along! Just looking at these photos makes me want to go back tomorrow.


© Elouise Renich Fraser, 15 May 2019
Photos taken by DAFraser, 6 May 2019 at Longwood Gardens

Longwood Gardens in April | Photos 1

Last Friday we joined at least 98% of the metro-Philadelphia area at Longwood Gardens. The big draw? Temperatures in the high 80s. The pathway from the parking lot to the Visitor’s Center was lined with small early bloomers. Those are Wild Oats above (lavender with yellow eye).

We walked to the café for lunch, followed by a long-anticipated walk in the Meadow. Here’s a quick look on the way to the newly renovated café, and then to the Meadow. In the first photo, the Conservatory is on the left; the café is behind the trees in the center.


Our walk was invigorating and a bit eery. First, Spring was barely beginning to peek out from the ground. Second, 26 percent of the meadow was burned off in mid-March as part of good meadow practices. Third, we saw only a handful of birds (swallows and an occasional predator), but no butterflies or bees at all. Still, it was worth every minute. Definitely not crowded, and a great workout after a winter of relentless snow, ice and wind.

Here are two views from the top of the meadow, looking back toward the flower walk, outdoor theater and café areas.

Things perked up a bit on the downhill walk toward the pond. Here’s a lovely bird chalet ready for occupancy (#31 in case the birds get lost),  a reassuring message from Longwood saying this will indeed become grand beauty on an awesome platform, and a couple of murky cold pond creatures. The second was like a flash on top of the water! Out of there the minute we were spotted.

Happy Monday, everybody! I’m glad you stopped by. Next time: a selection of photos from the other side of our visit to Longwood.

©Elouise Renich Fraser, 16 April 2018
Photos taken by DAFraser, 27 April 2018, Longwood Gardens and Meadow Garden

ready for harvest

Ripe and ready for harvest
The meadow lies before me
Still standing yet stripped
Of all but essentials

The sum of my present life
Waits for release into new life
Seeds dropped here and there
With no guarantees

There is no cure for death
The goal toward which
Every heartbeat has driven me
The home for which I long

I feel only loneliness and sorrow
At leaving behind loved ones
And this beautiful threatened world

D took this photo on our last visit to Longwood Gardens. No more stunning meadow flowers, and not so many joyous birds and butterflies. Instead, it’s full of late term life, ready to give its well-aged beauty to anyone willing to spend time looking and listening.

It isn’t as perky as it was just a month ago. Still, it isn’t ugly, or a sign that all is lost. Rather, it’s a sign that life is brief and fragile, and that it’s important to love it while we have it. One way or another, death comes to each of us sooner or later. With or without time for last goodbyes or heartfelt conversations.

© Elouise Renich Fraser, 6 November 2017
Photo taken by DAFraser, 28 October 2017
Daily Prompt: Panacea

Happy Weekend Photos from Longwood

Have you ever seen leaves like those above? They’re in the sun garden just at the beginning of the flower walk. This time it’s all about late summer madness–a riot of color and texture and lush vegetation. No hiding. Just masses of color having their last fling before autumn begins in earnest.

Here’s the setting for the leaves shown above. I don’t know the name of the plant. All I know is that it thrives in the hot sun, and I could hardly tear my eyes away from the graceful folds and colors of the leaves.

Leaving this area we began the flower walk. Always the same basic color layout–cool colors on the first half, warmer colors on the second half, set off by a fountain in the middle, with a small detour to the right, overlooking a sunken garden. Today the golden warm colors reigned.

Here’s the central fountain, and a quick peek into the sunken garden. Don’t miss the chrysanthemums around the pond, getting ready for their turn to bloom.

Back on the flower walk now, here are several more gorgeous blossoms. We saw tons of dahlias, and various kinds of sunflowers. Below is a rare dahlia followed by an unusual sunflower and another dahlia. No, I did not take notes on names of flowers. I was too busy looking!

Time for a quick look at the late summer/early autumn meadow. It’s also decked out in yellow, orange and rusty colors. First a look as we came up over the crest and looked downhill from the forest toward the meadow. Then a look from above at one of several walking/hiking paths through the meadow. The sight was stunning–gold everywhere!

Next we have close-up shots that give more detail. The weather was warm, though there was a nice breeze and it wasn’t too humid. Just right.


Just to prove I was there….We took the central path up to the forest line, before walking around the perimeter toward the formal exit.

Here we are at the formal exit, looking back across the meadow to the old farm-house, now an historical museum.

Just putting this together was an exercise in craziness! D takes way too many gorgeous photos, don’t you think? Actually, putting this together was a relaxing, enjoyable way to end this week. Hoping you find beauty in small things this weekend.

Thanks for coming along!


© Elouise Renich Fraser, 22 September 2017
Photos taken by DAFraser, 11 September 2017 at Longwood Gardens
Daily Prompt: Leaf

Christmas at Longwood | Photos #1


Christmas at Longwood is always spectacular. This year we began our walk outside, about an hour before the sun dropped below the horizon. The bird house above was for the birds, of course! Read the rest of this entry »

Flowers of Hope | from Amy


Amy Carmichael wrote this delightful poem for children whose lives and wellbeing were at risk. Amy’s major life work was to rescue or receive these children and offer them an alternative. They lived together with staff members at the Dohnavur Compound in South India. Over the years, scores of children found safety and hope for a different future. Read the rest of this entry »

morning birdsong


~~~Young Song Sparrow, Longwood Meadow

morning birdsong
calms my troubled heart
centers my soul

* * *

Yesterday’s Sabbath was a challenge.
Not because my spirit didn’t welcome it,
but because my body kept voting No
to all the delights I’d planned. Read the rest of this entry »

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