Sunday, April 18, 2010

Blackrock Farm Open House May 22, 2010

Every year on the weekend before Memorial Day, when the farm is as full of plants as it will ever be, we host an Open House. We send out announcements, work like mad people making the farm beautiful and make some yummy food. Gardeners from all over come and visit. It has become an event that many people come for every year and one that we truly enjoy here at the farm.

Please come and visit. It is a time when new gardeners can rub elbows with experienced ones and the choicest of our plant matter is all here.

We think that you will be surprised at our fabulous vegetable garden and new vegetable greenhouse. Our selection of organic vegetable seedlings are, I think, unsurpassed and all the other trees, shrubs, interesting annuals and perennials will be at their best.

If you have never received an invitation from us, go to the web site, , and add your name to our list. We have been sending out postcards for years and some people say that they frame them and some say that they still have the first on that we ever did on their refrigerator.

It is a fun day.

Saturday, April 17, 2010

Snow in filly

My friend Jenny sent me this photo this morning....85 degrees one day and 20something the next....
Poor little mini filly, a few days old, was cold so Jenny had to get the scissors out and make a little blanket....

Friday, April 16, 2010

Stanley's Pond

It is time to talk about a birth. The announcement is a little late but I want to talk a little about it anyway.
Last year, with a little help from Maine's Department of Agriculture, we dug a beautiful pond here at the farm. The water from our well had a tendency to get 'salty' right around August when we really needed it the most. Our shrubs in pots, that looked so wonderful in July, would suddenly look like heck even though we knew that our water had tested fine in May. Finally, we smartened up and tested it in August. Sure enough, way too salty and we now know that it fluctuates from month to month.
And so....not this winter but the winter before, we began to dig an irrigation pond.
This was the most amazing landscape project that I have ever taken on. Never mind the imensity of the project but the placement and effect on the landscape did things that you could never possibly anticipate.

First of all, we asked Mark Welch to help us. We had cleared the brush and trees and knew pretty well what the shape would be but when you do a project this big you have to trust the people who know what they are doing. I can't say enough good things about Mark and his sons and crew. This was a wild project! They were patient and competant.
You would think that as a landscaper I would be more relaxed about this whole thing but the opposite was true. What if it looked like it didn't belong? What if the dam didn't work? What if I hated connecting the front fields with their greenhouses and cars to the back field which had always been a peaceful haven? What about the dogs and ice? What about snapping turtles? I think that is what I mean by a birth. All that work to make this pond, all the fears and trepidations, all the worry about the unknown and then......
I will let the pictures tell the story.

First, we had to construct a dam to hold the water and a pump to pump out the ever growing water that was seeping into the pond. This was pretty wild in itself. Rains melted all the snow and a couple of times we really worried about the pumps keeping up with the massive amounts of water. Still, it worked.

You can see that we had to dig down 10 feet to hit clay. The clay was beautiful marine clay that was necessary to hold water. Our sandy soil was excavated and brought to someplace in a near by town and the clay was dug into and spread on the sides of the pond like a huge bowl to hold the water.
It was amazing to watch this process. One huge machine would scoop up the clay and another would grab that and smear it on the side of the pond wall.

Having this pond is like having a living breathing thing. It is already attracting wildlife and new plants. It has affected the light on the farm and the way that the wind blows. It smells and sounds different here at the farm. The ocean noises are closer and the the diamonds that sparkle on it when the sun hits it just right are gifts for all to see.

Sunday, April 4, 2010

Happy Easter

80 degrees here in Kennebunkport.....have a lovely day!

Things are starting to bloom at Blackrock

I promised that I wouldn't miss spring this year. I am trying to pay attention to every detail. Still, I am looking outside this morning and the grass has gotten green in 2 days. I mean that brilliant spring green that makes you think that it is warm out there even if that isn't quite true.
Although you can drive along at 40 mph and see spring happening; the green grass, the haze of buds on the trees, early spring is a time to concentrate on small things.

The earliest of plants are tiny. Snowdrops, (Galanthus) if you are lucky enough to have them, take a while to establish and the flowers that are so unique are tiny and to really see them you have to either pick them and bring them up to eye level or get down on your hands and knees and look closely at them. There are people out there, Galianthus nuts, who collect all the different little markings on them. They are unique and fleeting but there are hundreds of cultivars and each one is so welcome at this time of year.

Crocuses are still one of my favorites. I stopped planting the white ones in lawns because I think that they look like pieces of tissue on the lawn but the yellows and purples and blues can be all thrown together or grouped according to color. They are so brief and so wonderful to have that 'tasteful' groupings are to me not an issue. I plant the white ones up close to the house in little corners where they can be clearly seen for what they are, not pieces of paper on the not quite raked spring lawn but beautiful little flowers.

My Hamamalis has been in bloom now for almost a month. I have two that are blooming now, Arnold's Promise and Diane The flowers on this shrub are no where near as interesting from a far. But when you cut a branch for the house or get up close to it in the garden it is so fragrant and elegant. I think that it is underused in the garden and one of the honey bee's favorite early sources of food. When nothing else is in bloom it is a star and later on the horizontal shape of this shrub is pleasing in the understory, up against the woods or in those hard to plant places that you would like put some shrubs with flowers that fit in with a more formal planting.

I can't forget the Magnolia. My little Star Magnolia (Magnolia stellata) is getting ready to open. The buds are to me just as beautiful as the flowers. The other magnolias here at the farm are not as far along as the star. Late spring frosts can damage the flowers of these trees but that is no reason not to plant them. I also have heard of people who don't like them because if they are truly successful they make a huge mess when they drop their blossoms. What? A pile of pink or white or yellow on the green grass is ugly? It is a small price to rake a bit for that unbelievable display so early in the spring.

And of course Forsythia. This is a hard shrub to place in the landscape. The next time you drive by a MacDonalds or Walmart's you will undoubtedly see the wrong way to plant them. If you have the space and can let this shrub go and arch it's branches as they should be allowed to do and NOT place it next to a PJ purple Azalea, and if you realize that the bright yellow color is going to last a bit in the landscape, and realize too that your Forsythia is going to bloom right along with and complete aggressively with that wonderful Magnolia that you have been waiting for,then..... plant it please. It is the most wonderful spring color and you will have the added benefit of not having to stop on the highway or in other people's yards to steal branches to force in the wintertime.