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I LOVE GOING WHERE I’VE NEVER BEEN BEFORE, particularly when it’s to older neighborhoods as lovely and green as Philadelphia’s Mt. Airy. The 19th century houses, many made of stone, have front porches and deep yards — somewhat Southern in feeling, like nothing you would see in New York.

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I was there Sunday to visit several private gardens which were open to public view as part of the Garden Conservancy’s Open Days program, and found they lived up to their billing as artful and ‘delightfully personal.’

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My favorite of Sunday’s gardens was Lindsay Weightman’s and Hani Zaki’s, all pics above, a testament to all one can do in shady urban space, with a grape arbor, water pots, and multi-level decking. An atmospheric stone ‘outdoor room,’ below, is outfitted with a dining table, chandeliers, and a pizza oven.

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Exotic artifacts and architectural salvage, collected by the homeowners on their travels, are incorporated into the garden’s structure.

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I also enjoyed the long, narrow (18′x150′)¬† backyard of Eric Sternfels, above, behind an 1840s trinity house. The unpromising space manages to be surprising and harmonious, with mature perennials arranged along a serpentine brick path that draws you along to the finish line. Sternfels’ own whimsical sculptures, below, hang¬† at intervals along the way.

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We had lunch at the High Point Cafe, where they make crepes to order, imagining how pleasant it must be to live in such a civilized, garden-loving part of town.

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