Garden Diary - May 2017

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A Visit to Hay Honey Farm

Thursday, 18 May 2017

The Garden Conservancy's 2017 Open Days visit to Hay Honey Farm in Somerset County, New Jersey was scheduled for Saturday, May 13. It rained. Not that I hate getting wet but I do object to taking my camera out in rain. [Later, I did learn that they did have about 20 visitors, including a family with two sets of twin boys and another family with triplets. Families with multiples apparently take them out when the opportunity presents itself. And the draw that Saturday was a Family Time program making a gourd bird house for Mom.]

I asked and was graciously allowed to make a self-guided visit on the following Thursday. A large, expansive, sprawling garden but I've been here before: one year in April and again in summer, and also made a visit in fall. So I was comfortable with a leisurely saunter around the grounds all on my own.

Hay Honey Farm is open by pre-arrangement for groups. There is a fee.

Saturday was rain. Today is hot, very hot for mid-May with the high temperature, I later learned, of 93 degrees Fahrenheit. I brought an umbrella to use as a parasol. Parked at the second driveway, as directed. "Go through the barn." Hilary counseled, "It's the most direct way into the garden from here." The double doors at each end of the barn are always kept open by at least a foot as signs direct passers through to do because

the aptly named barn swallows are nesting and need access to their nestlings.
These are not bird hammocks but poop collectors protecting people and things.

And the two farm cats also make use of the barn.


Taking a path that has been kept mown through the meadow and
staying left of the small stream fed by year-round springs I come to

a woodland handsomely embellished with rhododendrons

in peak bloom.


All, such as this 'County of York' are properly labeled.

But some, like this pale buttermilk yellow cultivar are so far
up the hillside that I cannot get close to them to find the label.

Crossing the stream I find one of our native azaleas, Rho. vaseyi, with
its common name of pinxterbloom, flowering before it leafs out.

The woods are lush with ferns and wood hyacinths, which used to be named
Endymion, then it was Scilla, and now it is Hyacinthiodes hispanica. Not to be
confused with H. non-scripta, the bluebell of the English woodland. The difference

non-scripta nods and has flowers on only one side of the stem
while hispanica has erect stem with flowers all around


Simple combinations chosen with an artist's eye:
a crisply white variegated hosta nicely paired
with Pachysandra terminalis 'White Edge'.

Or, the white form of Japanese roof iris, Iris tectorum 'Alba' with a tall white violet, also with a yellow flush at its heart. Hilary, a horticulturist here at Hay Honey Farm refused to take credit. "It seeded itself in with the iris, from across the path." Yes, but you also did not weed it out, did you.

Although, thinking about it, probably the violet would also
look very good with the typical blue form of the iris too.

From a distance it almost looks as if this conifer is covered with worms.

Not so. It's pollen season. All the little beige buff
squiggles are the male cones. And one little female.

I know it is a snowball bush (and very refreshing on a torrid day such as this.)
But which viburnum I'm not sure. Usually they have enormous puffs of
flowers. And this has more modestly sized, neatly arranged snowballs.


I've stayed mostly in the shade. Even so, I am dripping with sweat. My face is probably flushed the same color as my rosy pink parasol. As much as I have enjoyed my time here at Hay Honey farm it is time to say, "Enough." I'll be back again when it will be open on Saturday, September 9, and enjoy the garden in a different season.

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