Friday, October 2, 2009

Road Trip to Carolee's Herb Farm

My good friend Marsha and I were supposed to teach a class on geocaching for a local Women in the Outdoors event scheduled for October 3rd. We taught it last year and had fun both introducing this activity to several women as well as partaking of other classes held that day. I got to ride a zip line for the first time in my life!

Unfortunately, the whole event was canceled due to lack of enough women registering, which really surprised both Marsha and me. Last year was well attended, so we wondered why this year had experienced such a lack of response. In any case, Marsha and I had planned to finalize our preparations for the class on Thursday, but now had the day free for other things.

Road trip!
I'd wanted to visit Carolee's Herb Farm just outside of Hartford City, Indiana, back in the spring when Susan Wittig Albert was there for a day of book signing. Not only did I want to see the herb farm, but looked forward to meeting Susan, a fellow garden blogger and author of the China Bayles series of books. Other family events prevented that visit, so Marsha and I decided to go yesterday.

It's late in the season, so when we arrived at Carolee's, we had the place pretty much to ourselves. Carolee greeted us right away and apologized for the gardens, but I assured her that as a gardener, I totally understood as my own gardens were on the down side of the season.

Marsha and I spent quite a bit of time in the large gift shop, where the delightful scent of lavender accompanied us as we looked at the varied items Carolee offers for purchase in several rooms. We both chose lovely embroidered linen refillable sachets and scoops of lavender for in them. There were other matching linen accessories that tempted me, if I only had a room where they'd be appropriate. They were the nicest of their type that I'd ever seen and very reasonably priced.

After we'd checked out all the lovely gift items, Marsha and I walked through the gardens, where we spotted many unusual plants.
Centaurea cineraria 'Colchester White' was a real eye catcher with its whitish-gray foliage, but Carolee informed us that it's not hardy for us (only in zones 7-11). It greatly resembles Artemisia ludoviciana, that Dusty Miller that's so common, yet it has something about its appearance that makes it different.
Another silvery plant whose foliage caught my attention was one commonly known as Horned Poppy (Glaucium flavum 'Extra'). It's not a true poppy, but its yellow bloom resembles an Icelandic Poppy in the spring. This one is hardy in zones 4-11, so I took one up to the counter for purchase.

Our final stop in our meanderings through the various gardens was the lavender field. It stretched out a long way, with more kinds of lavender growing than I knew even existed. Only a few varieties were blooming, but I can imagine how beautiful the field must be when in full bloom. A photo of that can be found on Carolee's website here.

Marsha and I then looked through the many plants for sale and I found a nice Toad Lily (Tricyrtis formosana 'Samurai'). Though I've already got four different kinds of Toad Lilies in the Trellis Garden, I have a soft spot for them, so I picked this one up for purchase. I especially like the white edging to the leaves and the deep plum color on the blooms.

Tricyrtis formosana 'Samurai'

Carolee and I had a discussion about whether it was truly 'Samurai' or possibly 'Gilt Edge' (which was also available). We decided it was 'Gilt Edge' by the time Marsha and I left, but after coming home and reading up on and comparing photos of each variety, I'm now thinking that its tag was correct after all. Both have nearly identical blooms and foliage, so it can be hard to distinguish between the two. When I planted it, the roots were circling the pot in their effort to spread out. They've now got plenty of room for that and I hope they do!

Several species of butterflies could be found flitting about, which isn't surprising, given the wide variety of plants growing here, many of them expressly for the butterflies' pleasure. While we were perusing the large assortment of plants for sale in the perennial area, I saw a
Buckeye for the first time in my life. Unfortunately, it flew away before I could get a photo of it. A Painted Lady sat still for a little bit though.

Painted Lady
Vanessa cardui

As I was to speak to the Evergreen Garden Club in Van Wert that evening (about garden blogging!), we needed to start home. Carolee began ringing up my purchases and surprised me by not charging me for the Horned Poppy because she "wanted me to try it." It was a nice gesture and much appreciated. Thanks again, Carolee!

We had a delightful visit to the farm and with Carolee. She was quite personable and several times during our visit, we engaged in lengthy conversations about gardening and blogging. She'd just returned from the GWA (Garden Writers Association) Symposium in Raleigh, NC, and we discovered we knew some of the same people. She told how Carol of May Dreams Gardens tried to convert her to a user of technology (you GO, Carol!), which Carolee admits is not her strong point. But it doesn't take long before you realize that plants are.
If you're ever in the Hartford City area - it's not far off Interstate 69 - you should take the time to see Carolee's Herb Farm. It's unique and you'll enjoy your time there. We did!


bg_garden said...

I love the herb bench at this location. I am gonna have to google this location to see how far of a drive it is for me. I would love to visit this location. Thank you for sharing it with us!
Happy Fall Gardening my friend.

Shady Gardener said...

Hi Kylee, What a great time you had!! The photo of the gift shop was quite interesting... what is on the ceiling??

I thought I had 'Samurai' but it's 'Seiryu' so I couldn't compare mine. If you go here, you can see a photo of my 'Gilt Edge.' I can see a problem in identification if they're very similar!

Shady Gardener said...

Hi Kylee, Back again! Just out of curiosity, I did a Google Search for Samurai. I looked at 3 or 4 sites and saw 3 or 4 photos of completely different flowers. So... what can I say?

Carolee said...

What a LOVELY article! Thank you so much for the kind words, and terrific photos. I looked up the toad lily after you left, and I agree it is Samurai, which also has a variegated edge, but is slightly more creamy and the flower color is a little different, too. So, I'm happy that it was actually correctly labeled, and sorry that I couldn't immediately identify it. When one grows over 2,000 varieties, it can be a little difficult to memorize each and every one, especially when they are similar. I just ordered three more toad lilies today, so I'll have a bunch come spring. Right now I am working on Stachys....I love them (I have 8 kinds now, but I'm expanding for next year) but they are a confusing lot! What a puzzle, but that is winter fun in the garden!

Again, thank you,

Carol Michel said...

Carolee is as nice as can be, as all gardeners are. I'm looking forward to visiting her herb farm, too, perhaps in the spring or at the height of lavender bloom time. She might not blog, but she has written a book and I'm looking forward now to reading it!

Kylee Baumle said...

Bren ~ I think it would be about 2½ hours away from you, at least. It's about an hour and a half from us.

How did things fare in the frost at your place?

Shady Gardener ~ That's lavender on the ceiling! It's hanging everywhere, which is why it smelled so good in there.
As Carolee has agreed in her comment, it is 'Samurai.'

Carolee ~ Well, it was obvious to me that you are very knowledgeable about not only the things you carry at the farm, but about a great deal of other aspects of gardening. It was fun talking with you!

Carol ~ You know, I saw her book in the gift shop and meant to pick it up, but there was so much we had to see while we were there, and that was when we first got there, that I just forgot! I had wanted to get it and have her sign it. I'll have to do that on the next visit (if I can wait that long).

Rosemary said...

What a lovely spot to visit....I also like the writer Susan Wittig Alber her books so enjoyable.

Sue Swift said...

Wish I could go to carolee's but I think I'd need a bit more than an unexpected free day ... :(

Just dropped in to say thank you for your congrats. they're much appreciated.

PS. Whatever is a zip line???

Sue Swift said...

Whoops sorry - I got so obsessed by the zip line puzzle that I forgot to return the congrats - which was the other reason I came in.

Nell Jean said...

Since I'll probably never head in the direction of Carolee's, thank you for the vicarious visit that we can enjoy over and over. So much to see and you captured it well.

Congratulations on being Best Ohio Blogger.

Buckeyes are hard to capture, sometimes. Glad you got to see one. Agalinis is blooming here, one of their fav host plants, of which there are many.

Frances said...

How fun Kylee, but sorry you didn't get to do the geocache class. There is one of those on Christopher of Outside Clyde's mountainside. Cool. But going to the herb farm sounds wonderful. I love the photo of the inside of the shop, the herbs hanging from the rafters look like stalactites with snow on them. Impossible I know but that's what it looked like at first. How cool about the GWA too! Small world. And a big hug and congrats on your blotanical award! :-)

Anonymous said...

Such a grand place and she's so favorite kinda shop--both plants and cool stuff. I like the benches and use of repurposed items. Would like one of her t-shirts! And the pumpkin shot is the best part.

Sorry you didn't get to speak at the first shindig but looks like you made the most of the free time. Never heard of geocaching?

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