One Friday Afternoon

Yesterday was my 26th birthday. I am an odd twenty-something in that my idea of a proper birthday celebration does not involve late nights, high heels or other frivolous attire, or copious amounts of alcohol.

I had been wanting to trek out to Chester County, PA to Terrain @ Styer’s for some time. Terrain is a plant nursery cum home-goods shop situated on land that used to be part of the J. Franklin Styer peony farm whose mission is to bring people and plants together. Unfortunately, you’d never realize this history because of the strip malls and retirement community that have sprung up along the major thoroughfare. Terrain not only features some fantastic finds for your garden landscape but also has a magnificent little greenhouse cafe that serves locally-sourced, sumptuous brunches, lunches, and dinners amid a lush, verdant backdrop.

I asked my dear friend, A., to join me and we had a lovely, “girls” day of tea, pie, browsing in the shop, and chit chat. It has been rather cold here in Philadelphia with temperatures dipping well below the freezing mark and 3 significant snow storms in as many weeks. Yesterday was no different, but the day was bright and clear with a cloudless blue sky and plenty of diffuse winter light.

The drive out to Terrain is all highway, but every so often you will get a glimpse of Pennsylvania’s rural, agricultural past as you dip under a railway bridge, curve around thickly wooded embankments, and pass historic structures constructed of roughly-hewn field stone. The “simple life” is still there somewhere to be found amidst the all that is new and pre-fabricated.

Decisions, decisions!

The Terrain garden cafe menu has many temptations! I decided to start with the Vanilla Honey au Lait – a soul-warming blend of black tea, vanilla, and foamed milk with a delicate swirl of honey on top served in a deep mug.

The cafe is situated in a large greenhouse that is full of greenery, soothing water aspects, and eclectic decor. You can’t help but feel transported while sitting in dappled sunlight. They serve the most delicious bread in warmed terracotta pots. It is accompanied by butter that they whip with sage and sprinkle with coarse, pink sea salt.


This plant's leaves look like giant hands!

You can add these wooden doors sourced from India to your garden for the right price.

I ordered the curried quinoa cakes and bbq pulled pork sliders for lunch. Quinoa cakes are actually much more delicious than they sound. Silver-dollar in size, they are browned to a crisp and served with a piquant dipping sauce and pickled vegetables. They are surprisingly most on the inside and have a hearty, nutty flavor. I am a sucker for anything “cute” and mini sandwiches are no exception, especially when filled with dollops of bbq pork. Terrain serves their sliders with roasted fingerling potatoes – much better than any french fry, in my opinion.

After lunch, it was time to browse the shop. A. was looking for some greenery to brighten up her home and I had fallen in love with the assorted Weck mason jars that Terrain carries.

Orchids galore!

I love these colored knobs for indoors or out.

Plenty of books to keep your coffee table company!

I purchased the cookbook “Wholesome Kitchen” which has wonderful recipes utilizing beans and lentils. I am terrible at incorporating legumes into my diet and wanted some unique recipes to get me started.

The warm lighting of the shop makes you want to curl up in the nearest chair with some knitting.


These nifty little plants hang in the air!

I also bought a Tillandsia Ionant Ball – a nifty little tropical plant that hands in the air from a wire hook. It’s appears that it would be fussy and temperamental, but only requires a dunk in water every few days and bright light. It has the most unusual purple flowers. I found an iron hook fashioned to look like a tree branch and screw
ed it into the space between two of my bedroom windows. My plant hangs, happily suspended in the winter light, far from prying kitty paws.

A wonderful birthday afternoon, indeed. I’m wishing A. lots of luck with the new plants she acquired as I know next to nothing about keeping things alive indoors! I was so smitten with Terrain that I am already slated to go back in two weeks for one of their famed terrarium workshops. I think it’s bound to become my new happy place.


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