Garden Diary - July 2021

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Open Day Gardens to Visit:
Pretty Bird Farm in Stockton, New Jersey
Saturday, 117 July 2021

If you are enthusiastic about plants and gardens you should know about the garden conservancy's Open Days program. After all, any day spent in a garden is a day well spent, better that a day elsewhere. Today, even though it is one with the heat and humidity of high summer, I am off to visit two Open Day gardens conveniently close to home. But only two rather than the possible four.

First up is Pretty Bird Farm, a flower and vegetable garden in Hunterdon County, New Jersey.

Unique, in that this is not a landscape garden. About an acre in size, it is planted yearly with more than 150 different varieties of annuals, perennials and vegetables, primarily heirloom tomatoes and a wide variety of cut flowers. The organically grown produce and flowers are sold to the local community and small businesses. Flowers and vegetables are available seasonally at their farm stand on Route 519 in Delaware Township.

Today, herbs and pollinator plants from their own collection
will be available for purchase by Open Day garden visitors.

And enormous bouquets for $25. Small ones too, at $7 apiece.

However Pretty Bird Farm is not a monoculture farm of field crops,
with endless rows of corn or pumpkins, soybeans, Christmas trees.

It's more of a hybrid, at once functionally productive, and ornamental.
A fence protects anything the deer would dine on, while outside there are

herbs such as basil and strongly scented annuals like marigolds.

As well as familiar annuals - sunflowers, marigolds, and more there are
some that - especially today's visitors - could use a helpful label to identify,

such as this black cotton, Gossypium herbaceum 'Nigra'.
Actually it is a perennial. But cotton is grown as an annual.

Or this one. Haven't a clue. Do you have any idea what it is?

There are summer bulbs such as a rainbow array of gladiola

and a vivid pink Asiatic lily. I think the stamens which stain
any fabric against which they brush have been removed.

The farm has become a waystation for migrating monarchs butterflies.

Scattered throughout the gardens are stately Asclepias syriaca, milkweed,
gone to seed. Kathy Klink, a local butterfly expert, is on site with a display
of monarch eggs and caterpillars, to talk about creating butterfly habitats.

In the morning The River Rats, an en plein air painting group, will be here

and there among the flowers and in the shade, painting in the garden.

Today, the Sweet Hearth will be on site to sweeten
your day with cookies, macaroons, cake pops for sale.

An interesting hour in a colorful garden rather different from others
that I have visited. Both deer fencing and multiple gates unobtrusive,
wide grass paths on which to stroll and spaces that feel like rooms.

The next garden visit is to The Garden at Federal Twist

Gratis entry to the gardens provided by the Garden Conservancy.

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