1 Here I am with Bob Hyland and Ryan. Bob's husband, Andrew Beckman, is my former head gardener and the former gardening editor of Living. He is now working in Portland, Oregon as the Associate Publisher and Editorial Director at Timber Press. Unfortunately, he was unable to make this trip, but hopefully, we'll see him soon - right, Andrew?
2 The group was very energetic. I shared a few stories with them including how much the farm has evolved since I bought the property nearly 14-years ago.
3 I always love meeting the visiting garden groups, and talking about my fun experiences as the owner of a 153-acre working farm.
4 I wanted to stay, but on this day, I was rushing to a book signing at the King of Prussia Mall in Pennsylvania. I will tell you about that event in another blog.
5 Ryan began the tour in the main greenhouse and my cutting garden, where the group was greeted by these beautiful fall blooming asters from one of our favorite sources, Annie's Annuals in Richmond, California. https://www.anniesannuals.com/
6 Also blooming was my Verbena bonariensis, also known as purple top vervain, tall verbena, or pretty verbena. It's a tall, slender-stemmed perennial, which can grow up to six feet and as wide as three feet.
7 Nearby was the cutting ageratum, Ageratum houstonianum. Also known as the floss flower, cutting ageratum is much loved for its brilliant lavender-blue blooms that are perfect for arrangements.
8 This week, both garden tour groups were very curious about this plant - Gomphocarpus physocarpus. It's common, more memorable name is hairy balls. It's a large plant, which can grow to six feet tall. And, in late summer, it is covered in two-inch, golden-green, hairy seedpods - definitely a conversation piece, but they add a unique touch to any bouquet.
9 This is a type of hybrid penstemon - an evergreen perennial or sub-shrub that grows from two to four feet, with trumpet-shaped flowers. The flowers can range from the deepest purple through many shades of reds, pinks, and even white - and, they attract hummingbirds and butterflies.
10 If you're from California, like Ryan, you'll definitely recognize this bloom - the California poppy, Eschscholzia californica. It's been California's official flower since 1903 and grows wild throughout the state in a most striking orange to yellow-gold color.
11 This is one of two giant urns that sit right outside the entrance to my cutting garden. The large agave is planted with Dichondra argentea 'Silver Falls', commonly called silver ponysfoot or silver nickel vine. It's a creeping, trailing evergreen perennial that grows best in containers or as seasonal ground cover. When planted in containers, it cascades downwards three to six feet long in one season.
12 The three finials on top of my equipment barn always draw lots of attention. They are antique finials I bought years back - they were perfect for this building, don't you agree?
13 The tour loved seeing all the different specimens in my pinetum.
14 After walking down the allee of pin oaks, it's hard to miss these majestic weeping willows - they're so wide and tall with beautiful curtains of drooping branches that nearly sweep the ground below. I have many weeping willow trees at my farm, including a grove of more than 25 located in a marshy area in one of my lower fields.
15 Further down from the weeping willows is the carriage road leading to the woodland and hay fields.
16 Ryan walked the group over to my American beech tree grove, Fagus grandifolia. It's a formal and stately tree that spreads wide and provides a nice canopy of shade. In autumn, these trees turn a bronze-gold color.
17 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.
18 A popular garden tour stop is the chicken coops. My flock of chickens, Guinea hens and geese were enjoying some shade, and roosting on one of several natural perches we built from felled trees.
19 These chickens were snacking on a variety of organic fruit and vegetable scraps.
20 The vegetable garden was still full of fresh, leafy greens.
21 Here was an eggplant ready for picking.
22 And in the adjacent vegetable garden, there were more tomatoes and okra.
23 Throughout the walking tour, Ryan answered questions and explained the care and maintenance of all the gardens.
24 My linden tree allee is always so inviting. And on a warm day such as this one, so was its canopy of shade. Beneath the lindens, I planted a ground cover of Allegheny pachysandra and leatherwood ferns.
25 At the stable, Betsy Perreten, my stable manager, was on hand to answer any questions about my Friesians, ponies and donkeys.
26 My dear Friesians, and ponies, were quite a treat for this group.
27 But it was the trio of donkeys that caught everyone's attention. Donkeys are naturally friendly and social animals - Rufus, Clive, and Billie came over right away to greet our visitors.
28 This is old Canadian white spruce fencing I imported. It surrounds all the paddocks where the horses, ponies and donkeys graze.
29 In the boxwood and ginkgo garden, the group learned about some of my large container plantings, such as the bay laurel trees I keep behind the Summer House. Laurus nobilis is an evergreen shrub or tree native to the Mediterranean. Although it can grow tall, it's often kept smaller by pruning or confining in a container.
30 Below the bay laurel, I planted sedum - it looks so pretty covering the top of the stone planter.
31 Between my Summer House and Winter House is my collection of yellow magnolia trees, which are easy to grow and relatively pest free. They look spectacular in bloom with their large showy flowers.
32 A container of beautiful and bright Alocasia, or more commonly referred to as elephant ear because of the huge green leaves that closely resemble the ears of an elephant. Most Alocasia plants prefer high humidity and grow larger faster in humid conditions.
33 This is the view outside my terrace parterre. Since I moved to the farm, I've planted thousands of trees - looking at them all never gets tiring.
34 This is a walkway leading toward my terraces, where the group stopped for refreshments. The path is lined with some of the many boxwood I have at my farm.
35 On each of the tables on my terrace parterre outside the kitchen, Laura set small glasses with pretty dahlia blooms from my cutting garden.
36 Here, Laura decorated this platter under the fruit punch bowl, with sunflowers, and calendula.
37 And, on either side of the homemade cookies - remember these seedpods? The hairy balls.
38 A delicious pomegranate punch made with POM Wonderful concentrate, lemon and slices of fresh orange. It is always a big, hit with our guests. http://www.pomwonderful.com/
39 And, a bowl of apples freshly picked from my orchard.
40 Bob and my longtime housekeeper, Laura Acuna, posed for this photo, so Laura could wave to Andrew.
41 I designed this curvaceous pergola with granite uprights and shapely wooden tops. Each upright is planted with clematis. The length of the pergola is underplanted with muscari and catnip, and at the ends of the walks, I planted wisteria standards.
42 In the area by my front gate, I planted a handful of tall Thuja occidentalis 'Degroots's Spire'. They surround climbing hydrangea on the trunks of four tall white pine ruined by Hurricane Sandy. Beautiful hostas are planted below.