Wednesday, January 16, 2013


A couple of months ago Helene called me on a Saturday to tell me that she had acquired two bunnies.  Tony Elliot, of Snug Harbor Farm, apparently pressured her into it.  "They were so cute when they were little", and, "Tony and I going shopping at Longhorn is bad medicine" are two of the many comments made regarding the purchasing of the two bunnies.  They were quickly installed in the second greenhouse, where space is at a premium during these winter months, in the large rabbit hutch that once belonged to Vijay Singh (there was a golf ball in his side at the time of the naming) and Dennis (Hopper.  C'mon guys).  Their hutch is pictured below.


The two new bunnies were not named right away, and to my knowledge do not have official names to this day.  "Brown Bunny" and "Black and White Bunny" seem to have prevailed.  The non-specific nature of the two new bunnies' names is significant.  They are pictured above, and below:


Just to review, Vijay and Dennis were male bunnies, named appropriately masculine names, and were allowed to hang out, like friends do.  Platonic.  See the above pictured hutch, and its distinct lack of any barrier between the two bunnies' quarters.    

I'll bet you can guess the sex ratio of the two yet-to-be-named bunnies living in the second greenhouse even as I type these words, and I'll bet you can guess the restrictions we placed on their movements within the hutch.  

That's right.  The results are pictured below.

I'm told there are three other bunnies hidden in the hutch that look similar to the strange puff ball above, but I wasn't about to go searching for them after the horror story related to me this morning about baby bunnies spilling all over the place and the subsequent screeching as Helene and Eileen scrambled to keep them from falling from the hutch.

I think it goes without saying that if you're out there and are ready to give a bunny or two a good home, please contact us.  We have too many bunnies.  

And please, if you select more than one, take the naming and separation of your new pets seriously.  

Tuesday, December 11, 2012


Blackrock has been providing produce for 50 Local in downtown Kennebunk since they opened.  It has been an honor to grow vegetables for them, and as a small business it is truly special to see a restaurant dedicated to purchasing its food from only local sources.  

Now David and Merilee have opened a new brick oven pizza restaurant with the same mindset and one of the pizzas is named for Blackrock.  

Needless to say, we're honored.  

I'm going to post the entire menu below, just to entice anyone in the area to visiting this cool new place, but first Blackrock would like to wish the best of luck to Owen's as well as 50 Local.  Eating locally is truly important, and as anyone who has ever visited your restaurant can attest, it pays off too.  Cheers!

    Wood Fired Pizza 12 “

Local Whole Wheat add 3 Gluten Free add 4

Blackrock - tomato, mozzarella, spinach, pickled vegetables 9
Harris - meatball, tomato, ricotta, basil 11
Breezy Hill - housemade sausage, spicy pepper, mozzarella, tomato 11
Ewe & I - farm egg,oregano, goat cheese 10
Stone - parsnip, caramelized onions, pickled radish, turnip 9
The O-man - tomato, basil, mozzarella 7
St. Onge - local mushrooms, roasted garlic, leek, pecorino 10

Sunset - Pauls Greens, shaved vegetables, pickles, balsamic 6.5
New Morning -greens, goji berries, quinoa, curry, flax & coconut oil 8
Pullen - chicken salad, greens, pumpkin seed, apple 9
Groundwork - greens, bacon, avocado, egg, blue cheese 9

Small plates
Chicken Parm 9
Meatball Hero 8
Orecchiette, Sausage, Cauliflower 8
Vegetables, Pickles, Chilis 8

Thursday, April 5, 2012

Open House 2012

The Blackrock Farm Open House has been scheduled for May 19, 2012.  You wouldn't believe how much work and time goes in to having this little nursery in top condition after the winter.  Not only do we have pruning and clean up from the winds and snowfall of but we have a lot of tidying to do at the many properties we take care of.  Many of our shrubs have to be stored in unheated greenhouses when the snow flies, and as the temperature rises we are forced to race against time to get them outside before the differences in climate damages them.  Also, many of our trees and shrubs come by bare-root delivery

which means they have to be root-pruned, potted, and fastidiously watered even as the other shrubs are organized and pruned for the upcoming season.  Bare root perennials and plugs also arrive during our preparation time, and since the threat of freezing is ever present in Maine the irrigation system will probably not be reactivated for a few more weeks.  
This might sound like an awful lot of complaining but it's actually a really interesting time to be working at the farm.  There's always a lot to do, and every one of the things on the giant "get ready" list, when completed, really improves the overall look of the grounds.  During the next six weeks you can see a difference with each work day that passes, and as the weather gets better and things begin to bloom the Open House generally arrives at the perfect time.  We always have a few big ticket trees available for sale as well, so if you're looking for an instant impact for your home this is a great day to really have a look at some large scale B&B trees.  
I hope i'll be able to post a few more times before the big day as things really start to get green around here.      

Monday, October 3, 2011

Michael Dirr at The Coastal Maine Botanical Gardens

Blackrock Farm is a great place to work for a lot of reasons, but one that sticks out for me this week is the field trips.  As long as you’re a lover of learning and enthusiastic about the subject and destination of the trip, Helene makes sure to get you on board.  Last Wednesday six members of Blackrock woke up early and drove to the Coastal Maine Botanical Gardens to attend a “walk and talk” lecture of sorts by tree and shrub rock star Michael Dirr.  You can find more information on him here.  For almost four hours we had the honor of walking the grounds of the CMBG with him, learning what makes certain specimens work in the landscape, what makes them remarkable, or simply just the history of their species.  If you’re a woody plant fanatic Michael Dirr is a must see and a must read.  
We got home to Kennebunkport at around five o’clock, but the day really flew by despite its length. 
It’s a lot of fun to get out there and break up the workweek with a trip like this, but I believe (and I think Helene does too) that part of what allows a little nursery like ours survive is the enthusiasm of the employees.  Grinding out weeks of maintenance and installations can really take the spirit out of you, but getaways like this recharge us and help us to remember why we stick with this work when we’re tired and sometimes, I’ll admit, bored. 
There was nothing boring about Michael Dirr.  His knowledge was vast, but he was never boring as we walked with him and a few of the curators of the Botanical Gardens.  He does not talk at you, but with you, and demands interaction and participation.  He constantly refers to ‘the quiz’ that will be administered at the end of the walk, but with good humor.  He encourages questions and never seems to be stumped by one.  Put simply, I was amazed; I didn’t say much, as I was way out of my league, but as we walked I often reflected on the value of seeing and talking with such a knowledgeable member of our field. 
On Sunday afternoon I got a frantic call from Helene, and through her excitement she told me Michael Dirr had come by Blackrock to visit the nursery and walk around a bit.  I’ll make sure she posts about it, so I won’t go into details, but his visit marks what is probably the most important person in the plant industry ever to walk our modest grounds.  More to come from Helene.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

A Minute to Complain

This is a very difficult time to be in the landscaping and nursery business, and i don't just mean because of the economy.  Here at Blackrock we hire a lot of college students, and even a few teachers on their summer vacations, during the busy season in order to keep up with the work.  Our crew swells to around 15 during the summer months, and while it is a logistical nightmare we certainly have enough hands to get the work we need to do done.

As the season starts to change to fall all these seasonal helpers head back to school and we are left with a skeleton crew.  The only problem is the work is still steady.  Now the crew is down to three on a good day, with a few able to be salvaged from the vegetable division when they have a minute.  Sometimes I make lists and as i get to a second page I start to panic a little bit.

It's like this every year, and I fully realize we'll be able to take care of the work, but it seems like i can never get used to this time of year and the drastic change in the way this business operates.  

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Colin Lewis at Blackrock Farm

Colin Lewis is coming to Blackrock Farm on August 11, 2011.

We've been struggling over how to best present this gentleman to our advertising outlets because it just doesn't seem right to put "You Guys Just Don't Realize How Big A Deal This Is" in a newspaper advertisement.

But that's pretty much what we want to say, and the blog is an excellent place for me to be able to be up front like that and get away with it.

The man is a highly acclaimed teacher, artist and writer, and is a consultant for the Lars Anderson Collection of Bonsai at the Arnold Arboretum. The list goes on, but you could visit his website at to see more about his resume. If what you find there isn't enough to be convinced I don't know what will be.

Colin has recently moved his collection and school to his house just a few minutes drive from Blackrock, and we felt we would be doing our community a disservice if we did not make his work and his move known to the public. Like I said, to both the artistic and landscaping communities, this is a pretty big deal.

His knowledge and calm, focused delivery had me wanting to get involved with this art form the minute i met him, and I know that I will be in attendance on the 11th with the hope of gathering enough information to get started on a Bonsai of my own. It turns out that a some Bonsai start out as heavily cut back shrubs or trees. If they are still producing new growth from the bottom they can be dug up and trained into smaller and smaller containers to become Bonsai. It always saddens me to rip out perfectly good living shrubs, and I hope i can learn to save the promising ones for a second chance at life.

As i understand it, this is one of the ways Colin has made some of his artwork (i'm not entirely sure if the piece pictured above was started that way, but it's gorgeous nonetheless). Obviously, i have a lot to learn, but i'm very excited to have a chance to get my questions answered by a master on the 11th.

Mark your calenders!

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Blackrock Farm Open House May 21, 2010

Blackrock Farm
Open House 
May 21, 2011

Come and join us for a day of friends, neighbors, staff and garden nuts from all over.  We have some nice food to eat and lots of new things here at the farm.  I promise the sun will come out!
293 Goose Rocks Road in Kennebunkport.