I've passed the sign for Leaming's Run hundreds of times on Route 9 just north of Cape May Court House dozens of times and always meant to stop in and see what they offer. It would be hard to beat the gorgeous blooms of Hereford Inlet about which I blogged earlier (see below). As it turned out, Leaming's Run is an entirely different kind of garden...
First, the flowers here are predominantly annuals. There's not a purple cone flower in sight! Most are arranged in color-coordinated flower beds viewed from a wooded trail. But before you finish saying "ho hum" consider that part of this forest is bamboo! These very tall, perfect-looking stalks create an unusual environment as you walk the trail. Their leaves create a canopy high above human heads, and the older leaves carpet the ground.
Crowing roosters announce that a barnyard setting might be just ahead, and sure enough, there's a replica of the seventeenth century two-room house the first Mr. Leaming may have lived in. The current owner and gardener, Jack Aprill, created a replica farmhouse, barn and chicken coop among the farm-style gardens here. The chickens are actually special breeds from arround the world with fancy crests atop their heads and silly-looking feet.
Moving along the wooded trail, the next surprises are in the landscape: ponds, bridges, and natural tableaux perfect for photographing flowers, reflections and each other. I was lucky that these blue-clad ladies were visiting the gardens when I was there. They gave some of my photos interesting color contrast. (This area of the gardens kind of reminded me of Monet's gardens at Giverny!)
After walking through another section of the bamboo forest, the visitor comes upon the original permanent Leaming residence built in 1706. Mr. and Mrs. Aprill bought the house in 1957 and raised their family here. Mrs. Emily Aprill happily greets visitors in the Cooperage where she sells her own dried flower arrangements and a selection of books they have written about gardening and Leaming's Run in particular.
The whole walk takes about ninety minutes, but it's definitely worth the stop. Cameras are a must!