Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Family Festivals at Peddler's Village


I recently spent a hot, sunny afternoon at Peddler’s Village in Lahaska, Pennsylvania. It’s about a 90-minute drive from Philadelphia, and is known for being a spectacular shopping destination, but it offers so much more. This time, I went to experience the Bluegrass and Blueberry Festival.

Several bluegrass bands and square dance groups performed from 10 am to 5 pm around the property. My friend, Lorraine, and I toe-tapped to the lively sounds of Borderline, a local bluegrass band. Other listeners gathered in and around an old-fashioned gazebo where the band had set up.

There were blueberry goodies at every turn. Cock and Bull Restaurant served blueberry and white chocolate chip bread pudding; Skip’s Candy Corner created blueberry fudge; Buttonwood Grill stuffed French toast with blueberries; and even Casa Casale, which specializes in Italian foods and items, offered free tastings of blueberry balsamic vinegar over mozzarella chunks. But the treats at the Town Crier Bakery were over the top: blueberry butter cake, blueberry scones, blueberry pie, blueberry crepes, blueberry shortcake and more.

Lined up along the paths were stalls selling blueberry products. You could buy fresh blueberries, preserves, pancake mix and other things blueberries. And that, folks, is only a sampling of the blueberry mania.

It’s going to be an annual affair, but if you can’t wait until next year, then get ye to the Peach Festival on Saturday, August 10 and Sunday, August 11. In addition to loads of peach confections, (shopper alert!) you’ll be able to scoop up bargains at the Annual Sidewalk Sale.

Unlike the festivals that are created for adult tastes, like beer and mushrooms, Peddler’s Village’s festivals are family-friendly. Autumn brings the Scarecrow Festival on September 21 and 22 and the Apple Festival on November 2 and 3. They pull out all the stops during the holiday season with the Christmas Festival on December 7 and 8. Since peaches are one of my favorite fruits, you know where I’ll be in August.

For more information on upcoming festivals and events, go to   

Friday, July 5, 2013

A Horticultural Extravaganza at Pennsylvania's Longwood Gardens

Acres of flowers, shrubs, trees and not a weed in sight. For over 200 years, the property now known as Longwood Gardens has been devoted to botany. In 1798, the Peirce family, who purchased the land from William Penn in 1700, began planting an arboretum on their farm. By mid-nineteenth century, it showcased one of the America’s best tree collections, and created one of the first public parks. In order to save those trees from demolition 1906, Pierre DuPont bought the farm. Through his vision and gardening talents, the arboretum expanded to become an exceptional horticultural showplace. DuPont had been inspired by the great gardens of Europe, and the entertaining water displays he had observed throughout his life.

The grounds
Today, Longwood Gardens ranks as the world’s preeminent horticultural venue. On a pleasant day, stroll along the Flower Garden Walk and through Peirce’s Woods. Explore the Forest and the Meadow. The Idea Garden will inspire you to improve your own garden. And don’t miss the expertise of the gardeners in the Topiary Garden. And that’s just a sampling of what you’ll find.

The conservatory
But, rain or shine, the conservatory is a “must-see.” The four-and-a-half acre climate-controlled facility contains the unforgettable Orchid House and the Rose House, a unique water lily display, the amazing Cascade Garden, an enormous Orangery and much more.

All through the year
Besides the permanent exhibitions, Longwood Gardens offers music programs, culinary events, horticultural classes and seasonal displays and programs, such as the magnificent Christmas spectacle and ice skating show. Summertime brings entertainment under the stars. Until September, watch water spouts frolic while fireworks thrill you during the Festival of Fountains. Don’t miss the music of Dmitri Shostakovich (also with fireworks) on the evenings of July 20 and August 31, 2013. The renowned Philadelphia Orchestra performs on July 18 and 19. As the sun goes down on Fridays, it’s time for families with special fun activities geared to kids. And oenophiles should reserve their place for the four-course gourmet wine dinners before they are sold out.

Longwood Gardens is located in Kennett Square, a short trip from Philadelphia.

For more information and tickets, go to
All photos by Valerie R. Hutton