Sunday, April 20, 2014
Inquirer Daily News

Cezanne's garden

The artist in Bucks

Cezanne's garden

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

Say hi to Derek Fell, probably the best known garden guy in Pennsylvania you've never heard of. I visited Derek at his beautiful 18th-century farmhouse last week because he's the author of a book called "Cezanne's Garden." Thought it'd be neat, in light of the Cezanne and Beyond exhibit at the Philadelphia Museum of Art, to take a look at exactly what was in the Provencale garden that so inspired this famous post-impressionist. Derek's been to Cezanne's place about a half-dozen times. He's written a total of about 50 garden and horticulture books in addition to dozens of calendars and other horticulturally-themed items that he does the photos for, too. In short, the guy's C.V. is about the length of my garden. We had a fun chat about Cezanne, who I'd forgotten was a pretty strange fellow. Didn't liked to be touched. Was a diabetic who suffered from depression. Looked like a homeless guy. Slurped his coffee and ate peas off a knife. But he could paint. Be sure to pick up the paper on Friday. I've just seen the page design - it's beautiful. You'll get a true sense of what Cezanne's studio and garden looked like. Makes me want to hop a plane. And P.S., Derek and his wife Carolyn have 20 acres up in Pipersville, a part of Bucks County that hasn't been wrecked yet. They open their gardens to the public for free on Mother's Day and Father's Day weekends. It's worth a drive up there - took me 90 minutes from Center City. They've designed parts of their garden to look like the gardens of the artists Derek's written about ... not just Cezanne, but Renoir, Monet and van Gogh, too. Can't wait for a return trip.

About this blog
Ginny Smith, a Philadelphia native, joined the Inquirer at 1985. After stints as both reporter and editor in the city and suburbs, she’s been happily writing – and learning - about gardening full time since 2006. She’s won two silver medals of achievement from the national Garden Writers Association and in 2011, Bartram’s Garden honored her with its Green Exemplar award for her stories about “the region’s deeply rooted horticultural history, cultural attractions and bountiful gardens.” She plays in her own – mostly - bountiful garden in East Falls. Reach Virginia A. at vsmith@phillynews.com .

Virginia A. Smith Inquirer Staff Writer
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