Wednesday, May 28, 2008

A Wonderful Day Trip to Well-Sweep Herb Farm in Port Murray, New Jersey

Heirloom plants, especially non-culinary herbs and plants of the American prairie, run throughout my garden. This weekend I found some wonderful new additions at Well-Sweep Herb Farm in Port Murray, New Jersey, about an hour away from Chatham. For a while, this has been on my most-wanted-to-visit list of nurseries. Boy, what a treat it was.
The setting of the nursery is beautiful. It's four acres, surrounded by over 100 acres of undeveloped land. The parking lot is a grass field. Sheep graze along the periphery. An informal herb garden meets you as you get out of your car, then there are plants for sale, the gift shop, and a formal herb garden. It was a treat to talk to Cy who started the nursery forty years ago. He knew each plant's history, how to use it, and cultural information that only comes from years of experience.
I was amazed by the breath of the collection. One of my favorite herbs is rue. Well Sweep had at least seven varieties from which to choose. I didn't even know there was such variation in rue. As for thyme, there are over 100 varieties for sale. If you can't get to the Herb Farm, plants are described and available in their mail order catalog which is available on their website:
"...In 1966, husband and wife, Cyrus and Louise Hyde, purchased an old run-down house and a piece of property. With a background in farming and a passion for gardening, what began as a homestead gradually transformed and grew into a national attraction...Our farm, a family home to one of the largest collections of herbs and perennials in the country...Our butterfly, herb, medicinal, perennial and rock gardens burst forth with breathtaking displays throughout the farm and have been featured in national magazines and books. Our brick-pathed formal herb garden boasts a knot garden, as well as a display of the 37 basils, 75 lavenders, 54 rosemarys, 108 thymes, and 72 scented-leaf geranium varieties that we stock. Whether for pleasure, inspiration, or ideas ... come see the possibilities..."
On a side note: those native orange rocks that I was recently posting about,Cy has cleared all of them and used them to make large, attractive walls. Next time, I'll bring my camera.


tina said...

I have a rue in my garden and it is blooming nicely. I know nothing about it but have heard it can cause a rash if handled in hot weather. Nice trip to the nursery!

heirloomgardener said...

I have heard that too, but so far I've been okay.

I grow mine mainly for the leaves, so I always remove the buds before they unfurl to prevent the leaves from going into decline.

tina said...

What are you supposed to do with rue? Is it a seasoning?

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