Saturday, August 1, 2015

Water works

This was a surprise, to see the Water Works, the South Garden and the Cliffside Paths all restored and looking so fine in the Easter Sunday sunshine. Finally, the walkway is linked to the Schuylkill River Trail between Center City and Valley Forge. For years, it was the missing piece. Although there aren't many people in this photo, before long it got crowded with bicyclists, walkers, bladers and people sitting on the benches with kids and puppies, enjoying the spectacular views. We also visited the interpretive center at the Water Works, which was doing a bustling Easter brunch business. The center is really interesting. In simple terms it explains the engineering behind the Water Works, which for a time was a major tourist attraction, and offers up interesting old photos and drawings of that industrious era. Imagine before the art museum sat atop "Faire Mount," and picture the earliest water-delivery system in the nation. It pumped river water up the hill to the reservoir, where the museum sits today, back down through a network of wooden pipes to houses in the city. The museum is fascinating - and free. The restored gardens are true to their Victorian roots - very green, with fountains (not yet turned on), geometric parterres and benches. It looks a little bare right now, but soon the landscape will soften. Amazingly, there was no litter. May it continue.

Water works

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

 This was a surprise, to see the Water Works, the South Garden and the Cliffside Paths all restored and looking so fine in the Easter Sunday sunshine. Finally, the walkway is linked to the Schuylkill River Trail between Center City and Valley Forge. For years, it was the missing piece. Although there aren't many people in this photo, before long it got crowded with bicyclists, walkers, bladers and people sitting on the benches with kids and puppies, enjoying the spectacular views. We also visited the interpretive center at the Water Works, which was doing a bustling Easter brunch business. The center is really interesting. In simple terms it explains the engineering behind the Water Works, which for a time was a major tourist attraction, and offers up interesting old photos and drawings of that industrious era. Imagine before the art museum sat atop "Faire Mount," and picture the earliest water-delivery system in the nation. It pumped river water up the hill to the reservoir, where the museum sits today, back down through a network of wooden pipes to houses in the city. The museum is fascinating - and free. The restored gardens are true to their Victorian roots - very green, with fountains (not yet turned on), geometric parterres and benches. It looks a little bare right now, but soon the landscape will soften. Amazingly, there was no litter. May it continue.

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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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