Botanical gardens

The botanical gardens at the farm intend to combine beauty and function, utilizing native and non-native species of annuals, perennials, flowering shrubs, and trees to provide a wide variety of food sources and habitats for all manner of living things.

This ethic means we allow clover to grow in the lawn areas to provide early forage for native bees, and although we don't promote dandelions, neither do we aggressively remove them and even occasionally eat them in early Spring, after all, that is why the colonists brought them from Europe. You will find Queen Anne's lace everywhere as well as milkweed and many other "weeds" that native bees and flies and other small pollinators need, as well as classic attractants such as Spirea and Viburnum.

Depending on how one counts, there are about 15 small to large beds and borders around the homestead that currently comprise the botanical gardens. An incomplete list of species can be found here. Click for a list of plants in the front yard of the homestead.

As we slowly connected the dots that we did not own a level piece of land, and observed after torrential rains that terracing would be a good idea, most of the stone was added after the garden beds had existed for several years. Now we tend to start or extend a bed by placing some stone terracing during the bed inception.

An example

This is a pictorial representation of the siting and installation of the newest and smallest bed. The siting is typically done in the fall, basic shape defined with some stone, and then existing vegetation smothered with cardboard or newspapers, whatever is readily available on the farm, then the stone terracing is completed and a soil mix is added to bring the bed level with the terracing. The soil is usually largely composed of the output of a huge cold compost pile of farm debris from the previous decade or so, which is then mulched heavily with chopped leaves to discourage any remaining weed seed in that, and all left to rot and age over the winter. The new plants are added the following Spring.

Siting the bed, fall 2020.

Initial planting, Spring 2021. Sourwood and Hydrangea.

Fall 2021.

Expansion in early Spring 2022. Annuals to be added in June.

Botanical gardens gallery