Andalusia

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Rosa 'All Ablaze' blazes cherry red in Burke Brothers' Tuscany exhibit, accenting classic Italian elements with bright flowers. (Ron Tarver / Staff photographer)

This is one of my favorite views on the old Biddle estate known as Andalusia, on the banks of the Delaware River about 13 miles from Center City. You'd never know it was there - in Bensalem, of all places - and part of me is grateful for the protection anonymity affords. But this is cynical me speaking. Open-hearted, garden- and history-loving me had a wonderful couple of hours here this morning, walking the grounds with head gardener Barry Cyphers and touring the Greek Revival, temple-like main house with Lori Hogan, assistant director of the Andalusia Foundation. Both have an affection for the place that warms my heart in this awful, cold-hearted time. The doorway in this photo is the one used by brides who marry in the walled garden, where Nicholas Biddle grew his prized table grapes and many generations of this famous family enjoyed walking and sitting (and still do). Brides walk through the door towards the center of the garden, where a large Callery pear tree dominates. Springtime, obviously, is the time to marry here, though a case could be made for summer or fall, too. White blossoms overhead and fluttering about, dozens of rose bushes in bloom or about to open, make just about the most romantic statement ever. But so do the "big house" and the vast lawns leading down to the river. So do the Canada geese honking overhead and the tiny "ephemerals" that are popping up or blooming now. Promise is in the air at this lost-in-time place, which you need reservations to visit. Go to www.andalusiapa.org to get details and don't be discouraged. Making an appointment is easy. I'm definitely going back. Meanwhile, be sure to pick up the paper on Friday - actually, in the spirit of shameless capitalism and full employment, be sure to pick up the paper every single day! I'll be featuring Andalusia in a story about the first day of spring.

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