2 About 30-guests came for the garden tour. It was the warmest day of the week - temperatures hit the mid 80s.
3 The first stop was the chicken coops and the new vegetable garden.
4 All the chickens were out and about, but they stayed mostly in the shade.
5 The next stop was the hoop house where I house my sizable collection of tropical plants during the colder months.
6 The group was led through the Linden Allee to the stable. The linden tree is a medium to large tree with loose canopies that produce dappled shade below. It was a pleasant break out of the sun.
7 At the stable, one of my three Sicilian donkeys, Clive, was ready to say hi to anyone who passed his stall. Sicilian donkeys are famous for their docile dispositions. They're very gentle, smart and easily trained.
8 Here is a view leaving the stable and looking out onto the south paddock. All the trees are leafing out beautifully. The group learned about the boxwood and how I maintain them during winter with netting and burlap.
9 The boxwood looked so lush and green. The ladies learned how much time we put into caring for the boxwood so they remain healthy. After the netting and burlap were removed, we thinned the limbs to allow sunshine and air to reach the inner foliage.
10 All the guests found the red horse-chestnut very interesting. Aesculus x carnea is a striking deciduous specimen with dark green, coarse-textured foliage. The multitude of pink to bright scarlet blooms were eye-catching.
11 These blossoms appear on erect, eight-inch long panicles at each branch tip - they're very attractive, and very accessible to bees and hummingbirds.
12 The horses were out on the south paddock. As guests walked through the Boxwood Allee, they stopped to admire four of my five beautiful Friesians - Ramon, Rinze, Rutger and Meindert.
13 The group walked past the great white pine trees. Pinus Strobus is a large pine native to eastern North America. Some white pines can live more than 400-years.
14 Ryan stopped periodically to answer questions and explain the care and maintenance of all the gardens.
15 The group loved the Pin Oak Allee. Pin Oak is one of the most popular landscaping oaks because it's so easy to transplant, grows relatively quickly and is a very hardy tree. They looked so majestic all leafed out.
16 The tour made a stop at the Vegetable Greenhouse where I grow many of the ingredients for my daily green juice.
17 Outside the cutting garden is a perennial border. The green foliage was very full.
18 On one side of the cutting garden is a row of quinces. The quince is the sole member of the genus Cydoniain in the family Rosaceae. It is a small deciduous tree that bears pome fruit. Quince is great for making jellies. Try one of my recipes. http://www.marthastewart.com/313646/quince-jelly-with-star-anise#Quince%20Recipes|/274208/quince-recipes/@center/276955/seasonal-produce-recipe-guide|313646
19 Across from the Cutting Garden, at the entrance to the long pergola, a guest stopped to take a photo of the pretty pink wisteria. When blooming, wisteria gives a spectacular show of fragrant rose-pink flower clusters hanging from vigorous vines.
20 The pergola is underplanted with lots of Muscari, commonly known as grape hyacinth. The name muscari comes from the Greek muschos, musk, which refers to its scent. Planted in large amounts, it creates a blanket of blue along this pathway.
22 Many flowering plants were put in just a few weeks ago, and everything was growing very nicely including the climbing roses which were moved from the fence to these pretty tower trellises.
23 This is the gooseberry patch. We placed these straggling bushes on the north side of the greenhouse because these berries preferred partial shade and a cool, moist growing area. They also like buoyant air circulation.
25 Outside the main greenhouse, the hosta plants were growing nicely. Hosta is a genus of plants commonly known as hostas or plantain lilies and occasionally by the Japanese name, giboshi. They are shade-tolerant plants with very striking foliage.
26 There are more than 40 different species of hosta, with a wide variety of foliage, colors, shapes and textures. They are hardy, herbaceous perennials that are very easy to maintain.
27 The ferns in the shade garden are growing taller each day. They caught lots of attention during the walking tour.
28 The group learned about the bald cypress trees, and the fern and lily beds on their way to the Winter House.
29 The ladies learned about the dwarf apple orchard and all the many apples we pick each year.
30 The group walked past the 'Gravenstein' espalier apple trees. These 'Gravenstein' apples are great dessert and culinary fruits. It is highly aromatic and offers a classic sweet tart apple flavor. I am looking forward to picking all the many apples we grow at the farm.
31 Everyone was led to my terrace for some light refreshments.
32 The group was offered a light snack of cookies and punch - the pistachio cookies were very popular and went quickly.
33 My housekeeper, Sanu, served everyone a delicious pomegranate punch - everyone loved it.
34 It was freshly made from concentrate with slices of fresh orange.
35 The azalea collection just started to come alive this week. The group was able to see some of the bold pink colors.
36 Azaleas are flowering shrubs in the genus Rhododendron. They bloom in spring, with flowers that last for several weeks. They are shade-tolerant and prefer living near or under trees.
37 And this is one of the first tree peonies of the season to open. Look how beautiful and dramatic the color is. Soon, the tree peony collection will be bursting with flowers.
38 The group walked through the garden behind the Summer House surrounded by tall boxwood. It is still a work in progress, but coming along so beautifully.
39 The focal point of this garden is the large Ginkgo tree in the back.
40 Boxwood is "man's oldest garden ornamental" and was introduced to North America from Europe in the mid-1600s. I have both American and English boxwood at the farm.
41 The ladies were able to see the crabapple trees in full bloom. These trees are famous for their colorful, fragrant springtime blooms. It's no wonder why.
42 The ladies walked past the stable one more time on the way to the gate and to their bus. It was a wonderful day for a garden tour.