Home GardeningGarden Diary Gardens for adventure, art, and games at Paxson Hill Farm

Gardens for adventure, art, and games at Paxson Hill Farm


November 22, 2023

Picking up my tour of Paxson Hill Farm — from the Philadelphia Area Fling in September — where I left off yesterday, let’s keep exploring! After emerging from the hobbit house hideaway, I followed the path uphill through another weeping-tree arch. The romance! Am I right?

The Swamp

Ahead lay a swamp garden, marked by a quirky cordyline at the gateposts. A narrow boardwalk promises to keep your feet dry.

The marshy ground is obscured by lush foliage, but a weeping tree beckons in the distance.

Jim Charlier led the way along the zigzagging boardwalk.

You reach dry land under the willow and find yourself on an island with semi-spooky totems.

Are they friendly?

A swinging log bridge provides your escape, and of course you can have a little fun bouncing on it if you want.

Laughing as you exit the bouncing bridge, you spot — hello! — a hippo lounging in a low spot.


At the rear of the garden, you find a large, grassy amphitheater. I wonder what kinds of performances they stage here?

On stage, a sculptural musician silently plays.

Fall color was starting to kick in in late September.

Found-object color is always there.

Temple Garden

A formal garden stretches along one side of Paxson Hill, with axis views, framed doorways, and lots of sculpture. There’s a wildlife pond just beyond, but I was running short on time and had to skip it this time. If you’re curious, you can see it in my post from a visit in 2021.

An Egyptian goddess, new since my last visit, marked the final focal point along the axis. Now let’s turn around and walk through the formal garden in reverse.

I soon found Layanee DeMerchant striking a mauve pose in a moon gate. She matches the gravel behind her!

A bosque enclosed by a hedge and lined with sculptural works offers a contemplative place to sit.

An Adam and Eve (she’s just out of view) are entwined in a metal arbor between garden rooms.

A pair of sphinxes marks the entrance to another garden room. You never know what you will find at Paxson Hill.

Off to the side, an abstract sculpture on the lawn stands out against burgundy foliage.

And an oversized pair of urns, each an explosion of rainbow-hued phormium, marks the entrance to the Temple Garden.

Satyr faces adorn the urns.

Naked Alien

The main crossroads of Paxson Hill’s garden is a circular lawn with paths radiating out on all sides. In the center stands a kinetic sculpture, Naked Alien.

Katsura Garden

I had time for a quick peek at the Katsura Garden, where I found a hunger-inducing sculpture of colorful macarons…

…and a giant chess board, abandoned mid-game. A king stands in the corner, watching the scene.

I adore Paxson Hill Farm’s creativity, fearlessness, and sense of adventure. It’s wonderful to see such a creative designer as owner Bruce Gangawer let loose across 30 acres to create a one-of-a-kind garden and open it to the public to enjoy.

Up next: The incomparable Chanticleer Garden, Part 1. (It may be a little while before I can edit all my photos of Chanticleer, since I’m working hard on my new book right now. But stayed tuned for them!) For a look back at Paxson Hill Farm, Part 1, including the pond garden and hobbit house hideaway, click here.

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