Garden Diary - August 2014

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Saturday, 2 August 2014
A Visit to Hay Honey Farm

I love my garden. It is wonderful to see it every day that I am home: as the seasons cycle from winter to spring, summer into fall. At sunrise in the morning, flat light of noon, and the lengthening shadows of dusk. And compare the memories of other years to now, and imagine the future. Visits to other gardens are but snapshots of a moment in time, capturing a vignette. Still something to be treasured, as any time in a garden is better than time spent elsewhere.

So it is with visits to Hay Honey Farm. I visited just this past April and a few years ago, in September. There are Garden Conservancy's Open Days. Now it's summer, and today's picnic. It's the annual summer event of the Watnong Chapter, North American Rock Garden Society. Members bring appetizers, side dishes, desserts, and the chapter provides the entrees and beverages. Always at a member's garden, and Hay Honey Farm is home to our members Chuck and Pat Crafts, with the gardens maintained by Hillary and Michael Clayton, also Watnong NARGS members. .

Today, we're well prepared for all of August's weather possibilities. In case of rain (or even if no rain but hot and sunny) there is a most magnificent barn for our use.

The area with close-set joists allows pallets of material (fertilizers and such) to be stored "upstairs.

Built in 2008 by Lancaster County Timber Frames, Inc. the building has hemlock beams and oak pegs. It was built off-site at the company's facilities in York, Pennsylvania, disassembled, then re-erected here. Sturdy, attractive, and well designed for practical usage.


Tools are nicely, neatly, attractively stored.


So after a delicious meal and delightful conversation some people saunter off into the woods.
I, instead, decide to peruse the herbaceous border, close up and slow speed.

Native plants. That describes their origin, not their attractiveness.
Liatris spicata and Echinacea purpurea, lovely perennials
that just happen to come from the prairie grasslands.

Patrinia , not sure just what species. Airy golden see-through umbels.

Sea kale, Crambe maritima, and the fireworks dried seed head of Allium schubertii,
from eastern Mediterranean to central Asia. Only zone 8 hardy, and probably wants a dry summer.
I must remember to ask Hillary how they keep it over winter.

Balloon flower, Platycodon mariesii. Balloon, because the flower buds swell into fat little globes that then pop open into five pointed bells. The roots are eaten in Japan. People tend to buy the already prepared, dried roots rather than the someone labor intensive cleaning / peeling that's required.

A healthy looking beebalm, Monarda, probably a M. fistulosa cultivar.
Not a blotch of mildew so clearly a good choice for making tea.

Not so healthy here, Japanese beetle infestation on hypericum.

Abstractly, they're beautiful - shaped like a scarab and glistening copper
and metallic green. Attractive, that is, until I see the gnawed leaves on cannas.

The old saying was that a $1 plant should be planted in a $5 hole. Not much you can find for a dollar these days but the suggestion is still a sound one. How you plant is five times as important as what you plant. Good preparation for healthy growth. So those well maintained shovels dig into the ground and add some lovely compost, creating good tilth for the soil. What goes around, comes around. Now it's cut back perennials, kitchen waste, at year's end the fallen autumn leaves. It all rots down and goes back to the soil, to ensure the beautiful borders will flower again next year.


Hay Honey Farm will be next be open for visits through the Garden Conservancy's Open Days program on Saturday, 20 September 2014. I will, alas, be lecturing in Ithaca, New York. You go. You'll be glad you did.

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