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A perfect day

After an exhausting weekend of working in my own garden, it was pure pleasure this morning to visit Ric Venzie in his. Ric has two acres in Cherry Hill, right off Route 41 and all that THAT entails, that he's developed over the last 16 years into a richly planted habitat. These poppies are among the few splashes of color at the moment, along with purpletop vervain (aka Brazilian verbena) and some random purple coneflowers. A lot of Ric's plants, especially the natives that are so prized by insects, birds and other critters, will be bursting forth later in the season. He looks forward to joe-pye weed, pink swamp milkweed, tickseed coreopsis and purple anise hyssop, among others. For now, there is beautiful foliage on his half-dozen Japanese maples, a stunning variegated gingko, a small "forest" of redwoods - yes, redwoods! Ric lived in California for many years - and green, black and golden bamboo, which is kept neat and under control. Standing inside his bamboo grove, he says, is "like being in a cathedral." For those who think blossoms must be, as Ric says, "cha-cha" colors, he seems to gravitate toward more subtle white flowers, like Hydrangea paniculata and a poison hemlock, which resembles Queen Anne's lace or carrots. Covered with bees and butterflies, these creamy blooms make you stop and stare and rethink the notion of color in the garden. Ric has carved out a lot of beds, including a large round one right in the middle of the yard that his father - this has been the family home for more than 60 years - was intent on keeping wide open. Ric is the sole homeowner here now, and his ideas are very different. His goal is to eventually have beds everywhere, connected by grassy paths, rather than grass everywhere there isn't a bed or border. He's getting there, slowly, given that he still has a fulltime job running a frame shop/glass gallery/coffee shop in Haddonfield. Monday was his (only) day off this week, and he was going to spend it - you guessed it - talking about his garden and then working in it. Sounds like a perfect day to me.