Thursday, February 21, 2008

The Hedge Garden

While writing yesterday's post, I came across a picture of my oldest grandchild, Lisa. She was visiting Yearick's Hedge Garden. It's a grainy old picture, but you can get the idea.

The Hedge Garden was Gus Yearick's version of a topiary garden, located on his own property, here in Lower Township. There was Santa Claus in his sleigh, complete with reindeer, in front of his home. To one side of the house was extensive open land. He had filled it with all manner of wonderful pieces. He would plant a hedge, and shape it into a ship, an animal, a small village of houses, a wishing well, etc.

I understand that the first piece he did was a tall ship. By the time I first saw it, it was about fifty years old, and quite impressive. I'm told that it once appeared on the cover of National Geographic Magazine, though I never saw that. Over the years Gus added ships and a tugboat, and then Lady Liberty, creating his version of New York Harbor.

In one area he arranged a baseball game. He even placed a ball in midair, leaving the pitcher's hand.

Gus didn't use wire frames nor any other devices. He used a pair of hedge clippers - that's all.
He devoted most of his time to his hedges. Four generations of my family enjoyed visiting his gardens. I went alone many times, usually taking pictures. Gus would come out and chat with me. He loved it when people came. Tour buses made the stop. There was never a charge to see his work. He would see me coming, and hurry out. "I see you got your picture-takin' machine with you again." We got along just fine. I used to get an extra set of pictures, and give one to him. That really tickled him. He told me that everyone took pictures, but no one else gave them to him.

He also kept a large garden full of zinnias and marigolds. This was edged all around with what looked like a row of lovely blue pointed glass bricks. I asked him where he had found such a pretty edging. Gus chuckled as he told me, he had found a pile of them in the woods and brought them home. - old milk of magnesia bottles! He pushed them into the ground upside down at an angle to make the edging.

When Gus was in the hospital, and knew that he was dying, he made his son promise to dig out all the hedges. He knew that no one else would ever keep them trimmed, and he didn't like the thought of them all growing over in an unsightly manner. His son kept the promise - almost. He left one hedge - The Statue of Liberty. It made me very sad to see them all disappear, and even sadder to see Miss Liberty slowly disappearing into itself.

Thank you, Gus, for many pleasant memories.


kenju said...

I wish I could have seen that. The only place I can remember seeing topiary hedges is at Disneyworld.

Anonymous said...

This was very touching - it must have been a marvelous garden and topiaries
require such time, skill and patience... Deb

Dianne said...

It sounds like it was a lovely place.

I hope you post more old photos, they're wonderful.

Ramblings of a Villas Girl said...

Thanks. This brought back good memories. Though I never went in the gardens, I saw them from the school bus. It is a shame that these lovey, interesting gardens have been replace with housing. But at least we have our fond memories and pictures. Thanks again. Lisa

Sandpiper (Lin) said...

It must have been a beautiful garden. It sounds like Gus found something he loved to do; and he did it splendidly.

Anonymous said...

My family has owned a home in Wildwood NJ since the early 40's. My grandfather, parents, and I spent many summers there over the years. I rememeber how much I enjoyed visiting the hedges as a child. I even have some very old photographs of them, and movie footage dating from around 1948-49 with my mom as a teenager. I'm glad to see others remember them with the same fondness.

Vagabond Sound said...

im pretty sure i live in the house where these gardens were. if anyone has pictures of videos of the property that can confirm this for me, i would love to see them!!!