1 Despite being a bit early in the season, it was a glorious day for a garden tour. The ladies arrived by bus at 11:00. They were welcomed at the gate and given a map of the farm.
2 I gave them a big hello and greeted them to my farm.
3 I explained that I bought this place 12 years ago and named it Cantitoe Farm. Cantitoe was married to Chief Katonah back when this area was inhabited by Native Americans.
4 I went on to say that the buildings and land were quite a wreck. Rather than restoring, the town allowed me to rebuild using the original footprints and many, many changes were made to the land, itself.
5 I also mentioned my love for Bedford Gray, the color that all of the buildings are stained. I found that particular shade on a piece of Italian stationery and just knew it would be absolutely right for the farm.
6 Moving on, I explained that all of the white cedar paddock fencing came from a Mr. Christiansen in Canada. I need more fencing, but for some reason, Mr. Christiansen isn't answering his phone.
7 The ladies loved this plastic greenhouse filled with my tropical plant collection. All of my favorites - cycads, staghorn ferns, agaves, Brazillian skyflower - have spent the winter here.
8 They all wanted to walk through and see every plant.
9 A nice group shot - Allison Rockefeller, Elyse Newhouse, Robin Bell-Stevens, Anne Harrison, Wendy Martin, Laura Hall, Dorothy Brown, and Betsy Messerschmitt
10 The chicken yard was the next stop. I told them that Lily, my weekend housekeeper taught me a really good tip from her native China. You can slow down the natural pecking order of chickens by hanging cabbage heads in the yard. The chickens will peck the cabbage and not each other.
11 I pointed out the stoneyard, where all the spare stone used on the farm is kept. If someone calls me and asks if I want a stone foundation, I tell them "yes!" We have so many uses for stone and it's wonderful having this resource.
12 The ladies admired the muscari and the Virginia bluebells. Many wondered if their upcoming Central Park Hat Luncheon will be blessed with such good weather. I attend this luncheon every year and have blogged about it, and it's always fun, even in the rain.
13 Back row (L to R): Leslie Needham, Cecilia Wolfson, Nancy Missett, Betsy Messerschmitt, Norma Dana, Allison Rockefeller, Noreen Buckfire, Kamie Lightburn, Samantha Topping Gellert, Suzie Aijala, Jenny Price
2nd row: Robin Bell-Stevens, Dorothy Brown, Laura Hall, Kimberly Thurston, Anne Harrison, Memrie Lewis, Tara Rockefeller, Elyse Newhouse, and my gardener Ryan McCallister
1st row: Susan Calhoun, Wendy Martin, Vicki Foley, Suzanne Cochran, me, and Eleanora Kennedy
14 I was pointing to the stable. The architect, Alan Greenberg, helped me design all the buildings, and I especially love the stable and how well it works. The stone Catholic church in Bedford Center was the inspiration for its look.
15 The structure is made from local stone with the exception of the dark keystones above the doors and window. That is black Chinese granite. All the windows are wavy restoration glass and the roof is durable slate.
16 The horse stalls are from an English company, Loddon, and they're trimmed with galvanized steel. http://www.loddon.co.uk/
17 The Friesians love attention!
18 Outside in the courtyard, I mentioned that my nephew, Christopher, got married here. I'm also pointing to the boxwood allee, which I am so proud of.
19 People have asked me if it is a creation of Jacques Wirtz, the Belgian landscape designer, who is famous for his undulating evergreen hedges. When I planted it, I had no idea it would turn out so well.
20 I told the ladies that I'm very concerned about boxwood blight, which is killing off entire hedges all around. On yesterday's blog, I showed how the crew is now sterilizing all of the pruners used on the farm. There is no sign of blight on the farm and hopefully there never will be.
21 I then pointed out a large stone at the end of the allee.
22 I brought this from my home on Turkey Hill, where it sat at the end of the driveway. With its step, it's a perfect stone for a mounting block, and I'm fairly sure that's what it was used for in the early 1800s, which is when that house was built. That's what I use it for now.
23 Next stop - the Sicilian miniature donkeys, Clive, Rufus, and Billie!
24 Rufus was in a playful mood.
25 We walked past the purple flowering magnolia, the cement in-ground birdbath (which is original to the farm), and a double row of nicely pruned ancient apple trees.
26 And then we met up with Danny from SavATree, who has been pruning and caring for my trees all these years. He was there that day fertilizing with a seaweed base amended with beneficial pro-biotics to stimulate healthy root growth.
27 We walked towards the Summer House garden, enclosed by a tall hedge of American boxwood. The boxwood came from George Bridge, who specializes in finding and moving mature specimens.
28 I was pointing out that this is a work in progress and that many additions will be made this spring. I hope that my niece, Kristina will get married beneath the antique faux bois gazebo and then perhaps, my granddaughter, Jude.
29 The herbaceous peony bed - After we left the stable, the horses were let out to enjoy the fabulous weather.
30 We finally arrived at the stone terrace of my home, where a spring luncheon was waiting inside.
31 Once again, Pierre made extraordinary food.
32 There were two different colors of beet soup and a fresh pea soup. They were served silky smooth and cold.
33 Artichoke hearts, pared of their leaves and cooked in flavored water until tender, were filled with quinoa, kale, and dried cranberry salad and topped with delicate micro-greens grown in my Urban Cultivator Residential model. http://www.urbancultivator.net/
34 Pierre made extra quinoa salad and garnished it with shaved baby carrots.
35 There was a tossed salad of greens grown on my farm with avocado and toasted pumpkin seeds, tossed with an avocado lemon dressing.
36 There were fresh poached eggs.
38 And for dessert - individual lemon tarts topped with meringue
39 There was a dining table set in the brown room and another in the bird room. This is such a nice bunch of ladies.
40 After lunch, we continued the tour accompanied by GK, Francesca, and Sharkey.
41 We found Ryan watering in the greenhouse.
42 I explained how the greenhouse is organized by plant type.
43 There were many oohs and ahhs!
44 And finally, it was time to head back to the bus.
45 Here I am with my dear friend Memrie Lewis, Anne Harrison, and Laura Hall.