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Landenberg, Pennsylvania, United States
Based in Landenberg, PA PLG offers Landscape Installation and Maintenance to Southern Chester County and Northern Delaware

Friday, February 10, 2012

A simpler Time.....

Ever wish you could step back in time?  Find a place where all the hassles of the modern world melt away?  Well I have found that location.  Now I do not want to give the exact location where this magical retreat is but, I will tell you about it!

A shot of the stone chimney and naturalistic landscaping.
               My wife’s family has a lake house in Great North Woods of Wisconsin that her Great Grandfather built during The Great Depression.  He needed a way to keep his factory workers busy so he would not have to lay them off.  If you have ever seen “The Great Outdoors” with John Candy and Dan Akroyd then you have a great picture of the surrounding landscape.  Once a year Sarah and I like to escape for a week or two to decompress, mountain bike, water ski, and drink the amazing Wisconsin beer. 

View of the dock and "Echo Cove"
               The lake house and the crystal clear lake it is on serves as an inspiration to me every time I visit.  We have no television, internet (wireless included), and out cell phones barley receive service!  We really can relax, listen to the sounds of the lake, and have good conversations with our family.  I always come back ready to work and with plenty of photographic inspiration for my design work.  Since the family owns it, we have the responsibility of keeping it up.  I love working on the cabin, the boathouse and in the surrounding yard/woods.  To keep the upkeep to a minimum the landscaping is very naturalistic and composed of flora native to the North Woods.  Species include Black Pine, White Birch, and several varieties of native grasses.  The main focus is on removing small trees (when they grow in nuisance areas), ensuring that the crushed red stone walks are compacted, and the paths are swept clean.  Unfortunately, any chores must be completed before we can go skiing, kayaking, or for a bike ride!

View to the Boat House showing the natural landscaping and walkways.
 The idea of a wooded landscape composed of native flora and fauna really inspires me.  In spite of my chosen profession, I really do not enjoy yard work all that much!  With an eye for design and function I would love to see more landscaping like this in Pennsylvania.  How much lawn do you really need?  Enough to lounge, through the football, or run the dog; with careful planning all of these uses can be accommodated without requiring a Saturday spent on the mower.  Color within a naturalistic landscape can be provided with native azaleas, dogwoods, and other shade tolerant understory plants. 
Mixture of native grasses and ferns.
   Once you move beyond the landscape surrounding the cabin and start exploring the wondrous natural expanse of the forest beyond it you find many interesting things.  One of my morning rituals is to take either the kayak or the canoe out and paddle around our cove.  There are two islands and several swampy areas to explore.  The first is named ‘Bud’s Island’ after the man who built the primitive cabin that is on it.  As you can see from the pictures nature is slowly reclaiming all of his hard work.

Cabin being slowly reclaimed by nature.
I really love the aesthetic created by the cabin, pine straw, and the birch trees; it is just so picture perfect.  While exploring we were extremely careful to not disturb ANYTHING!  We want to preserve this for future generations to explore and enjoy.

Close up of the cabin.
  Once done photographing the cabin and exploring the island, I moved on to exploring the swamps.  The flora is amazing, encompassing all manner of flowering water plants and lily pads.  Lily pads bloom in two colors on our lake, white and yellow.  The white blooms are becoming more and rarer as they are out competed by the yellow.  One sad sign of the times is the appearance of the Eurasian Milfoil  in the lake.  The Milfoil is an invasive exotic that is quickly out competing the native plant species in the lake.  It is quite the nuisance and pretty disgusting when it attaches itself to your leg when swimming.  The local forestry office has come up with a pretty interesting way to control this pest.  Their method consists of a pontoon boat, two divers, and what is basically a vacuum.  One diver goes down and uses the suction hose to harvest patches of Milfoil while the other stays up top.  This seems to be working quite well, though every time a boat drives through a patch the prop cuts any Milfoil present to pieces and disperses little pieces to reproduce asexually.  We do our part by taking out the kayaks and raking the dock and beach areas clear of floating pieces

Lily pads in the swamp.
Rare white blooming lily pad.

These plants bloom a beautiful purple spike.
Mini Trees!

Greetings from a simpler time!

Interesting facets of daily life in Wisconsin’s North Woods are the so called ‘Supper Clubs.’  These are mostly family run restaurants that are run out of lodges or old homes.  Our personal favorite is Norwood Pines.  The lodge it is run out of is absolutely beautiful and the ice-cream drinks are to die for; by far the best food in the area.

Norwood Pines Supper Club
  Many of the homes in the area are marked with amazing stone work, be it chimneys or walls, our cabin included.  The craftsmanship inherent to this kind of work is on display every place you visit. 

Fireplace in the boathouse.
Stone retaining wall.

I love our cabin for its obvious age and the antiques that still work perfectly (or not so perfectly).  These antiques lend a feel of a time gone by to the cabin and I would never update any of these items for the sake of modernism.

I love the illustration but I don't know if I would trust this in a fire.
Vintage door closer.
View of the boathouse and our dog, Sam.

I hope all you readers are enjoying these blogs about what inspires me and you have thought of a place that inspires you as well.  Writing these help me recapture some of the thoughts and ideas that I had when I was experiencing them and by writing are refreshing them in my memory! If you have any questions please do not hesitate to visit our web page at www.lawn-scapes.net.

-Matt Bradley

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