The Best Private Gardens We’ve Ever Seen! Nina Schneider’s

Continuing the private garden tours in Chestnut Hill, PA., was sublime torture, but we persisted.  We couldn’t imagine anything better than Peter’s home and garden and the others weren’t better or worse, just different.  We have noticed that a garden cannot help but show the qualities and personality of its owner.

Garden designer Nina Schneider's arts and crafts home.

This charming home belongs to garden designer Nina Schneider and her husband.  It is a smallish arts and crafts house built in the 1950’s by the former head of the Philadelphia power company for his retirement home.  Nina and Peter serve on the Board of the Morris Arboretum together.  Peter grew up next door to what is now Nina’s home and told us he was always jealous that when he was shoveling the snow off his driveway as a teenager, the man next door just turned on his heated driveway and the snow magically disappeared.   Back to Nina…she is an avid collector of unique plants and a very talented garden designer as you will see.  In the front flower bed she has collected dozens of dwarf conifers just like the ones we have in the store and she was familiar with our source.

Nina Explains Origin of Garden Ornament

As we made our way into her garden through her simple wooden gate crafted by her husband, we came upon a Campania fountain, imagine that!   Then we entered her shade garden; her Hemlocks were huge and almost everything on that side was sheltered.   It was visually serene; again, I was taking fewer photographs than I wanted to because I didn’t want to run out of batteries at a crucial time and there was so much to see.

Nina's Shade garden.

Also on this side of her garden were some remarkably beautiful and unusual plants such as this large blue, blue Lacecap Hydrangea and a Lion King day lily, incredibly ornate and colorful.

Christy with beautiful, huge Lacecap Hydrangea.

The Lion King!

In a sunny spot Nina had a pair of Italian Impruneta terra-cotta planters full of succulents and sun-loving annuals.  Impruneta has a gorgeous patina, is frost proof, durable, and so expensive it is not commonly found.   Fortunately, we were able to buy some for our gardens before Campania stopped importing it; we would practically protect it with our lives.

Nina's Italian Impruneta containers.

As we turned a corner going into Nina’s back garden, the vista took our breath away.   She is a master at using color and plant combinations to give continuity to the garden, but make it overwhelmingly interesting.   This garden is rectangular in shape, however with the archway, gravel path, and plant choice, she has given it the illusion of depth in the opposite direction.  A vegetable garden lies hidden at the far end.   Notice the small succulent at the bottom left next to the pathway; it is silver and has flesh ripping thorns.  To the left of this vista is a large Blue Spruce that was selected for its deep purple cones; it is underplanted with a pink Lacecap Hydrangea next to a blue Lacecap Hydrangea that came up from seed.   Nina said “Be aware when you weed; sometimes something really good will be growing.”
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