Friday, May 19, 2017

Thanks to everyone who visited us at the Landis Valley Herb Faire. Although Saturday was a wash out, plenty of people came out on Friday. We see a lot of our regular customers from the farm who stop by or wave. And it's nice to see returning customers who visit us each year at the faire. We appreciate all the compliments we receive on the health and appearance of our plants and our large selection.

We still have plenty available at the farm. If you feel like you're behind with the unpredictable weather, you have plenty of time to plant both perennials and annuals. Stop by and we'll help you make selections that will work for your setting.

Here are some things that are looking particularly nice in the garden. Baptisia or false indigo, is a native plant in the pea family. The beautiful blue flowers are followed by blue seed pods.


Oriental poppies are perennial and also reseed, so you can get a big patch fast. The delicate pink petals remind me of tissue paper and they surround a beautiful blue-black center. It's easy to stand and admire these flowers when they bloom.

The four square garden contains mostly culinary herbs.

Tuesday, May 2, 2017

Many thanks to everyone who came out to our spring open house last week. What a success - it was our best open house ever! We met a lot of nice folks who were visiting the farm for the first time. And we always enjoy greeting returning customers that we haven't seen for awhile.

People are so complimentary - they comment on the health and appearance of our plants, the wide selection we carry and the interesting items in the shop. Some folks strolled through the gardens. I gave John all the credit there because he's been working on the gardens while I've been working with the plants.

It seems that my cautioning people not to plant basil in the ground yet is on target. I see nighttime of 40 degrees at the end of the week. Young basil plants will not even happy with that. Hold off a little longer. Don't worry, we have loads of beautiful basil!


I always say, " Who can resist a flower with a face?" Like Johnny jump ups...


Or  "Jolly Joker" pansy...

Monday, April 17, 2017

A shout out to Sam and Nancy - thanks for visiting​ on a rainy spring day. You surprised both John and I! We met Sam and Nancy through visiting their business, Potting Shed Antiques, on Farmersville Rd. below Ephrata. If you're looking for some interesting additions to your garden - chairs, benches, fence, figurines, bird baths, etc. - check them out. We always find something we love to add to our gardens.

The perennials were moved outside last week. Now they are hardened off, so they are ready to go in the ground.


Even though the weather has been mild, it's too early to plant annuals. Our last frost date is generally mid-May and I don't believe chilly nights are over yet. Be patient a little longer for things like zinnias, tender sages, (pineapple and white) tomatoes and basil. Basil especially likes hot weather and nighttime temperatures consistently in the 50s.

How do bulbs migrate around? I understand seeds moving with the wind or by birds, but I have some daffodils in the wilderness area. It's a variety I've never grown and I certainly didn't plant them there. We also have a lovely patch of grape hyacinths in a small wooded section of sour cherry trees. The closest ones are halfway across the yard on the border with our neighbor. There's so pretty that I picked a bouquet to enjoy inside.

Thursday, April 6, 2017

The greenhouse is filled with rosemary


And scented geraniums


And lots of other herbs and old-fashioned plants.


Customers are stopping by with wish lists, or to pick up a plant list which details all our plant offerings to help them plan their gardens.

The greenhouse is full and next week, we'll move the perennials outside. After about a week outside, they'll be hardened off and ready to plant in the ground.

I'm still planting annuals. Those cannot be planted outside until mid-May, so they have plenty of time to size up.

On nice days, now is the time to get out and do garden clean up. Cut back non-woody perennials to the ground. Trim the dead off woody stemmed perennials. Cut back butterfly bushes and other summer blooming shrubs.

Friday, March 24, 2017

Thank goodness that's over! I don't mind snow in the winter, but once March comes and I'm preparing for spring, I'm not interested in snow. And this time, we had plants in both greenhouses, so it was essential that everything was taken care of. As the snow melts, we have to shovel it away from the sides of the greenhouses so it does not accumulate and collapse the sides. When it's a substantial amount, we wind up with a "moat" around he perimeter. I hope that's the end of shoveling this year.



But inside, things are really progressing. All the rooted cuttings and most of the divisions are planted. Lots of seedlings left to go, since I seed crops weekly over about two months.

But after a sunny day, I can go in the greenhouse and see that things have grown from the previous day. And on a warm day, as I water, all kinds of delicious aromas are released. It's a great start to spring.


The greenhouse officially opens April 1. Starting then, our spring hours are Tuesday-Saturday 9am to 5pm and Wednesday evenings until 7pm.

Saturday, March 11, 2017

March is a confounding month. Talk about the pendulum swinging. While it's winter outside...



It's spring inside!



We've really been working on our spring preparation in the greenhouse. Planting plugs and seedlings and dividing perennial stock plants. Lots and lots of planting. It's so nice to see the greenhouse filling up and watch the little plants take hold and start growing.

John spent most of today tagging plants. Each pot gets a tag, so you remember what you bought when you get it home. Since we grow so many varieties, it takes a while to pull all the tags and place them in the appropriate flat.

Be on the lookout for your spring newsletter. We'll be sending them out in the next week or two. You can read about our new plants, our spring hours and upcoming events. At least we can think spring! I

Thursday, February 23, 2017

We've had a180 degree turn in the weather. From our brief bout of winter,  we've jumped right into spring. Our preparations continue in the greenhouse, as John and I fill pots. I've looked for our greenhouse toads as the weather has warmed up, but no signs of them yet.

Signs of spring continue to multiply. Tree buds are filling out, he first tiny shoots of sorrel have emerged from the ground and just a few days after the temperatures rose, the pussy willows popped.


Inside, it's looking more and more like spring as seeds germinate and seedlings begin to grow. It doesn't take long before you can see the individual differences with each variety.


Don't forget that our shop is open Thursday-Saturday from 9 to 5. The greenhouse reopens April 1. To get you thinking about spring, click on the link to view or 2017 plant list.



Wednesday, February 22, 2017

Saturday, February 11, 2017

With our recent brush with winter, I'm juggling seasonal chores. Shoveling snow alternates with filling pots in the greenhouse or sowing flats of seeds for spring. I liked this snowfall. It made everything look so pretty, but wasn't too much to shovel.


I don't want to wish for more snow, but we do need precipitation. Going into spring with a rainfall deficit isn't good for farmers or gardeners. Hopefully, the precipitation will come on days when the temperatures are above freezing.

It's nice to go into the greenhouse to work on a chilly day. As long as the sun shines, it warms up quickly. And there's the smell of warm soil to enjoy. Before fragrant plants emerge, that's an enjoyable springtime smell.

John has been helping me fill pots in the greenhouse. It's amazing how much difference an extra pair of hands make. After almost twenty years of doing all the spring preparation myself, it will be interesting to see how much faster we can accomplish things this year.

One day, while walking with Lucy, I saw a number of birds in the crabapple tree feasting on the fruit. When I got closer, I saw it was about 8-10 cedar waxwings. They are interesting looking birds, with their masks.

The seedlings continue to grow. In this photo, on the right is Lady lavender. It's the only lavender I grow from seed. Behind that is a fragrant dianthus. On the left are two varieties of pansies. On the far left, is biennial angelica. In their second year, those little plants will put up a five foot tall flower stalk!

Saturday, January 28, 2017

When my sister visited over the holidays, we, of course, got to talking about our childhood. One of the things she reminded me of was discovering a witch hazel tree behind our "new" house (the second house we lived in.) Growing up in the woods, we didn't see many flowers, other than a few wild varieties. But here was a tree blooming in the winter! It was like a miracle to us. Although the flowers are quite small, the fact that they bloom in January or February increases their impact greatly.  Here's a photo of our witch hazel in full bloom.



When I took classes at Longwood Gardens, and studied flowering shrubs, the professor was not at all enthused about forsythia. He felt the flowers didn't make up for the fact that it was a plain green shrub the rest of the year. But sometimes with plants, they only need to do one thing, if they do it really well. And those sunny gold flowers early in the season, when we're tired of winter, seem to be quite enough. Witch hazel flowers are in the same category.

Baby seedlings continue to grow in our basement. Even at this tender age, characteristics of the mature plant develop. In this photo of blue flax, you can see the fine, blue-gray foliage typical of the plant. Individual flowers bloom only a day, but the plant flowers a month or more.

Saturday, January 14, 2017

After the holiday break, we're settling into winter here on the farm. I must say, the weather hasn't been too bad thus far. It seems like whatever system that moves in either veers to the west or east and just touches us lightly.  I hope that continues, although you know winter has some tricks up its sleeve.


The herb shop is open part-time now. Our hours are Thursday, Friday and Saturday from 9am to 5 pm. This time of year,we get lots of customers working on projects. Essential oils, supplies and containers are big sellers. Also folks come in looking for moisturizing products to relieve dry winter skin. Bulk herbs and spices are popular as people try out new recipes or make hearty cold weather dishes.

Another thing keeping me busy is writing a gardening/plant column for The Essential Herbal. Founder and editor, Tina Sams asked me to contribute on a regular basis, writing about herbal topics from a growing point of view. I've always enjoyed writing so it's been fun.

But mostly, I'm thinking about spring. I told my sister that spring is just around the corner, because I started my first batch of seeds. Early things, like pansies, a seed grown lavender, echinacea and some other perennials. Here are the babies under lights in the basement.


Then I went looking for other signs of spring. On one of the warm days, the second greenhouse toad (referred to as toad Jr.) came out of the dirt. I tried to get him to turn around before I took the picture by scratching his head. He seemed to like the scratching, but wouldn't turn around.


And check out these fat, fuzzy buds on our star magnolia. They will become clear white star shaped blooms before the leaves emerge on the tree.


And although the top of my horehound plant is dead, there's lots of new growth at the bottom.