happy 25th anniversary to the west chester growers market!!!

IMG_6363I missed all the political fanfare early this morning, but I did make it to the 25th anniversary of the West Chester Growers Market.

State Senator Andy Dinniman and Chester County Commissioners Michele Kichline and Terrence Farrell were there at the opening of today’s market to celebrate with everyone and present citations and proclamations.

But where oh where were the officials of West Chester Borough? Borough Council? I mean it is NO SECRET they have been discussing the lot on the corner of Chestnut and Church Streets again right?  And what developer and hotel owner want in on whatever is discussed, hmmm?  Oh the irony that they just discussed this again, what? This past week?

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And no one from the Borough could come to the West Chester Growers Market in an official capacity to celebrate their 25th anniversary? The County and State felt they should be there, so why not the Borough?

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Photo courtesy of County Commissioner Terrence Farrell’s Facebook Page.  He and Chester County Commissioner Michelle Kichline presenting a County citation to Paul “Bud” Hauser, an inspiration behind and one of the four original growers who founded the West Chester Growers Market 25 years ago. I think this is fabulous that they did this!!

Oh and my opinions are my own, by the way.  And sadly I think West Chester Borough needs to appreciate the organizations which bring people into the Borough weekly for 25 years, don’t you? The West Chester Growers Market brings people and farms and small food producers together. In a world filled with ugliness, this is something genuine and nice.

Today the market was bustling in spite of the crazy heat.  And the vendors were nice enough to have lots and lots of water on hand for customers. And ice cream!!  And balloons and face painting for kids!

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I love the West Chester Growers Market and it is pretty much the only one I patronize at this point since East Goshen seems to have given up on their farmers market which I think is a huge mistake since they have one of the most awesome locations.

The photos I took today were my own.  I am not compensated in any way for posting about the market. I post about the West Chester Growers Market because I love it and think it’s fabulous.

And if West Chester Borough Council gets their knickers in a twist because I do not feel in my opinion that they appreciate the market in all it’s fabulousness, tough noogies and am I wrong?

HAPPY 25TH ANNIVERSARY WEST CHESTER GROWERS MARKET!! 

WE LOVE YOU IN CHESTER COUNTY!!

 

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why does west chester borough hate the west chester growers market? why are they trying to hurt the market again? 

West Chester Growers Market 2016 season- my photo.

APRIL 2 UPDATE: The Borough of West Chester has posted something I am assuming because I posted the letter people kept sending to me yesterday.

I am posting the borough response  in an effort to be fair. Which is not saying I believe them, is it?

Pursuant to that effort to be fair would it also be fair to say that the Borough of West Chester is casting aspersions upon my character because I dared state the opinion that every year it seems to be something else that is an impediment to one of the most popular and beloved  markets? Why is it West Chester Borough can never seem to just renew the lease prior to opening day of the market? Is that small business friendly? Is that farmer friendly? Family friendly?

Also the Borough of West Chester letter was sent to me by PATRONS of the market some of whom are RESIDENTS of the Borough of West Chester. And last time I checked I can connect the dots and express my opinion unless we are all Pravda on this bus?? Do we still not have a First Amendment or is that also subjective to the capricious whims of small-town politics?

Here is their say and to them I say, if nothing nefarious is afoot the lease should have just been renewed without incident and the market should have merely been treated as the valuable community asset it is , correct? 

But hey it’s ok if I think the Borough doth protesteth too much right? Keep those calls and emails up people, apparently they are feeling the heat? And pack that meeting because at the end of the day those borough council folks work for YOU right?  Maybe next election cycle instead of recycling the political status quo residents should consider other options?


FROM YESTERDAY
Can someone kindly explain to me WHY West Chester Borough seems hell bent on destroying the West Chester Growers’ Market? They seem enamored of the politically connected yet essentially not really anything other than an occasional pop-up food “co-op” (I touched on that in this post months ago) and why is the “co-op” the favored child? 

Today is opening day of the market, and it is supposed to be a happy day. But once again something happy and festive feeling is once again marred, yes marred by the shenanigans of West Chester Borough. See this:


I was sent the above by a friend shopping at the market today. And others texted me. This is spreading like wildfire. 

Once again, West Chester Borough is trying to rid West Chester of one of the area’s longest standing markets, doesn’t it?

Every year there is some sort of B.S. about the parking lot lease, isn’t there?

Every year this market is punished for being a successful market run by nice people, isn’t it?

Please turn out your support from far and wide for this market.   Contact every member of West Chester Borough Council. Contact the media.  Please help the market!

This is the meeting that the above letter says will discuss the fate of our favorite market:


It’s too bad West Chester Borough can’t hold a meeting to discuss the real reasons why they are such jerks to the market, right?

Sign me disgusted.

a special day at west chester growers market

DSC_6911The West Chester Growers Market is the mother of all the locally sourced, outdoor farmers’ markets we know in this area.  (Or that is my opinion.)  They started right where they are now, at the corner of Church Street and Chestnut Streets in downtown West Chester Borough.  They are, save one exception I will get to, a producers only market. As the market says on their website:

Producer-only requires that the fruits, vegetables, herbs, plants, beef, pork, eggs, flowers we have to offer you be farmed by the farmer that you meet at market; that the cheeses, salsas, sauces, pies, jams, pasta, honey, breads be sold to you by the local artisans who make them.

Four of the original families participating in this market are still part of the market. EverGreen Farm (formerlyWindy Acres Farm), Fahnestock’s Fruit Farm, North Star Orchard, and Maple Hill Farm.

DSC_6851I was honored to be asked to be part of the West Chester Growers Market’s July 30th “Know Your Farmer: Chef and Media Event”.  It was great to be among the ranks of local chefs, food writers, and well-known local food bloggers.

Last Saturday was brutally packed, but as I arrived for event check-in a little after 9:00 a.m., the market was already jam packed with customers.  As I walked down a rear alley that T-bones the alley directly behind the market, the happy cacophony of people enjoying their morning, the market, and chatting with the farmers and artisan vendors could be heard floating in the morning air.

I will be honest, parking was a challenge.  That is not the fault of the market, that is a chronic problem with the Borough of West Chester, unfortunately.

DSC_6765My first stop was a place that isn’t yet a place which is new to the market.  The “West Chester Food Co-Op.” They are the non-producer with a place at the market.

Yes, I have been open about my skepticism.  Can’t help it, given the chair of the “co-op” board and her position as Secretary of the West Chester Borough Planning Commission. I mean let’s get real: if it smells a wee bit political, it may well be political, right? I didn’t get when I commented way back when how they were asking for “donations” when they were not a non-profit and that is perfectly reasonable.  If you are asking for money, and you ask for “donations”, it is what people naturally think.

DSC_6769I heard about them seeking a building and location and so on, and more asking for “donations”. So if they are NOT a non-profit, does that make those who invest shareholders with ownership rights in the new business? If the business goes nowhere, are people refunded their investment?  And again, why call it a “donation” if you are in fact some sort of shareholder investing?

Anyway, when I last expressed my opinion on a co-op that doesn’t really exist the knives and scissors came out from some. So, sigh, I expect it again. But I have to ask are my questions/concerns so extraordinary?  Seems to me a lot of people have them.

DSC_6770So, anyway, I thought I would be fair and give them a shot to tell me about themselves and answer my questions.  I wouldn’t be rude, but they are part of the market as of 2016, so I figured why not talk to them? (I will note they did not seem to participate in this market initiative, but benefited from it.) I went up to their table which was in the alley next to Queens Farm.

They had sweet kids as volunteers and the woman in charge of the co-op who is on the West Chester Borough Planning Commission was in attendance.

The kids volunteering couldn’t answer my questions (including how they came to be at the market when they were not well, an actual producer) and I was told she was too busy to speak with me.  The kids were nervous seemingly to tell me that, so I thanked them ans said another time then.

DSC_6859O.K. so I went about my business but will also note that I brought people with me to the market on Saturday who don’t blog, they don’t know about the co-op and one person said when we were in the car leaving that they wished the food co-op luck because the people at their table were rude to them. These are people that were completely unbiased and open to the concept of a food co-op as they have been exposed to them in other stages of their lives.

DSC_6940The make-believe food co-op was the only negative of this whole event. I remember a food co-op from when I was little. It was a really cool place. I like them, I just don’t get these people and what their eventual end game actually is. And Saturday would have been their ideal and perfect opportunity to change MY mind.  They did not achieve that, sadly.

DSC_6787The West Chester Growers Market event was incredibly positive, so back to that.  Sorry, I just feel badly that actual producers put their hearts and souls into their products that they bring to market to sell. The space that “co-op” takes up could go to another farm. To me that is depriving the general public and taking money OUT of a farmer’s pocket.DSC_6999

Anyway, I had an awesome time at West Chester Growers Market on Saturday.  It is one of my haunts, and I love so many of the producers there.DSC_6823

Some of my personal favorites include Yellow Springs Farm, North Star Orchard, Blueberry Hill Farm, Applied Climatology, A Taste of Puebla, Queens Farm, Lizzie’s Kitchen, Fahnstock Fruit Farm, Big Sky Bread, Maiale Deli and Salumeria, Big Hill Ciderworks, Read Earth Farm, Maple Hill Farm, and Chile Spot. I know, I know that is like most of the market.  But these people are awesome, and they remember their customers which is something in today’s world I personally love. That added personal touch, remembering what you like.

DSC_6889Take Lizzie the Amish Lady from Lizzie’s Kitchen,  who said to me  “You are one of those people too?”  meaning I was one of the writers/bloggers.  I smiled and said yes and then we spoke about what she was preserving and baking. We spoke about Shoo Fly Pie, because hers is one of the only ones I actually like and will buy. My maternal grandmother was Pennsylvania German so I am picky about my Amish/Pennsylvania German Foods.  We had a conversation about canning, something I have taken up again on a limited basis (I know my limits!) and the milk delivery service I use (Doorstep Dairy – they are awesome!)

DSC_6877I also hung out with the North Star Orchard folks. Lisa Kerschner and her staff are as nice as they are knowledgeable.  Their products are amazing, and on Saturday they had their DSC_6863DSC_6868beets.  They grow these multicolored beets which are as spectacularly flavorful as beautiful. These beets are their own home grown/ developed variety. I love when they are in season because I especially love roasting them and serving them in a salad with Chèvre from Yellow Springs Farm.

The salad I made Sunday with what I got from North Star and Yellow Springs!

The salad I made Sunday with what I got from North Star and Yellow Springs!

And yes, one of my next stops was to visit Catherine at The Yellow Springs Farm Booth.  Yellow Springs Farm is one of my favorite places on earth, and I also patronize them at the local markets.  I have known Farmer Catherine for many years at this point – we knew each other before her farming days began and she is one of my favorite people and her husband is such a lovely man.  I not only buy their cheese, but their yogurt, soaps, and many of their native plants grow happily in my garden!  (And they let me photograph the mama goats and the new kids in the spring!)

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I also have to give a big shout out to Vera Pasta. I make a lot of my own pasta but their artisan pastas are divine! Their ravioli in particular!

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And did I mention the most adorable Jack Russel puppy ever? The West Chester Growers Market is pet friendly, so if you are a dog lover, you see some amazing pups.

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And now some photos. Enjoy them. And support the West Chester Growers Market.  It is an amazing group of people.  I look so forward to being a regular customer for decades to come! These are our farmers, and in Chester County we need to support our agricultural heritage. You can’t get fresh produce from a row of plastic McMansions, after all.

The West Chester Growers Market is one of the finest local examples of what the locavore movement is all about.  Know your farmers, know your producers. Support them and shop local.

Thanks for stopping by!!

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buy fresh, buy local, cook deliciously

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Sundays invariably become a cooking day for me. I often get things lined up for the week ahead. Today I made another batch of fresh Gazpacho and put a small beef roast and chicken breasts into marinades for cooking over the next couple of days.

I toss the meat and chicken into their own (as in individual) ziplock bags with either a homemade or semi-homemade marinade which includes fresh herbs out of my garden, garlic cloves peeled and sliced.

Marinades are easy. There are tons of recipes out there, or you can use a prepared one and tweak it. I like Stubb’s marinades and Pete’s Produce has their own line of marinades too which are very good, and KC Masterpiece has a couple which aren’t bad. I seem unable to use these marinades on their own, I tweak them to what I want. I never add more salt, but I might add herbs, spices, lemon juice, lime juice, fresh ginger, and so on.

We buy our meat and poultry from a local Chester County butcher who in turn buys from a lot of local farms. We use Worrell’s Butcher Shop on King Street in Malvern (Borough). You can’t beat the quality, and truthfully their prices are competitive with supermarket chains. If you have never tried them, you should. They will prepare custom freezer orders for customers too.

Since I have moved to Chester County I have made an effort to source our food locally. I love the East Goshen Farmers Market and West Chester Growers Market, but am becoming increasingly fond of Pete’s Produce on 926 because they pull in from a bunch of local farms, including for dairy products. Also on my list is Sugartown Strawberries and Strattons’ Wynnorr Farm. Also to be included in the rave category is the Phoenixville Farmers Market.

The locavore movement is continuing to grow in this country and there is more than a little truth in local food is better on so many levels. In Chester County we are lucky to have so many farms and farmers markets, so why not support the local farm economy?

Buy fresh, buy local, cook deliciously.

Thanks for stopping by!

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little lime hydrangea

little limeThis hydrangea is a wonderful cultivar.  It is called Little Lime.  It has puffy and conical shaped pale green bloom that fade to white or cream. In the fall the blossoms also become tinted with pink on the edges. This is a fairly compact hydrangea that is about 4 to 5 feet in diameter.  It is also very winter hardy, and came through the winter better than the rest of my hydrangeas.  I purchased mine at Applied Climatology in the West Chester Growers Market

Here is their inventory for this coming Saturday (as in tomorrow):

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Sad and to be mentioned in local nursery news is that one of my favorite nurseries is consolidating their business to their Chadds Ford, PA location.  Woodlawn Nursery which is on the old Potter’s site at Sugartown Road and Paoli Pike in Malvern is having a consolidation sale. I will miss them when they are gone from Malvern, but am glad they are keeping their Chadds Ford location.  They do excellent work and their plants have been amazing. Plus they are super nice people.

Oh and just so you all know, this is not a compensated blog. If I post about goods and services it’s because I want to, it’s not a services swap or direct compensation. There is nothing wrong with bloggers who do that, but I want to be clear about my own blog.

Thanks for stopping by, I hope you are enjoying this amazing day!

the trouble with pachysandra…..and other gardening tales

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The trouble with pachysandra is if it likes a place, it loves the place. And pachysandra is very happy in my gardens.

Where we live has well established pachysandra that grows like it is on steroids. It’s common name is Japanese spurge and is in the boxwood family. When we moved in, the flower beds weren’t so much flowers anymore as they were pachysandra ponds. Pachysandra was everywhere. So if you wonder what my first garden inspiration was, it was to break up the sea of GREEN.

My mother loves pachysandra and maybe part of my intense dislike was having to plant it for her too many years. (Yes, as much as I love my mother, her idea of gardening was to supervise, not actually plant things.) I did not want the pachysandra to go to waste, so what I have done is relocate it around the property. Waste not, want not when it comes to the garden.

I have become an expert at liberating pachysandra from planting beds. I cut it out with garden clippers and a sharp shovel edge like strips of turf or carpet and roll it up. All you have to do is plunk down the sections where you want it next and water it in. I have relocated my liberated pachysandra to bare spots on the edge of the woods and it regrows nicely and chokes out the weeds.

This weekend I had stopped at Home Depot in Frazer and noticed a lot of plants were on sale. A lot of the sale plants looked horrible because they needed watering, but along the side of the store where the “nursery” is were a ton of day lilies at $3.00 a pot. They were decent cultivars and were from their Vigoro line which is grown by Bell Nurseries in Maryland. Bell has their own land and a network of growers. They are all along the Eastern Shore of Maryland.

And incidentally, if you are looking for plant nurseries, the Eastern Shore of Maryland has some amazing places. One nursery I used to go to is called Pumpkin Shell Nursery on Route 213 in Cecilton, Maryland. They used to have the most amazing boxwood and trees, shrubs, perennials.
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So anyway, I found a bunch a day lilies that had bloomed but were still vigorous and healthy plants. I will be honest I don’t really buy too many plants from Home Depot, but I will look for things in the Vigoro line like hydrangeas and day lilies when they go on sale to use to fill in spots in the garden. The day lilies I bought were the same cultivar, “Baby Moon Cafe“.

……BUT before I planted the day lilies I had to liberate more pachysandra. And the formation I ended up planting the day lilies in was not what I originally envisioned because I also discovered today that the concrete path along which I wanted to plant was well, a foot wider than I originally thought. So I spent quite a while excavating the path and trimming pachysandra along other borders too.

I also noticed my deer friends have been munching a section of garden I planted near the woods this year that I hadn’t sprayed with Deer Out. Apparently my oak leaf hydrangeas are even more yummy than my hostas.

Ah yes, Deer Out. My friend Melanie (who has a gorgeous garden) told me about this stuff. It smells vaguely minty and it is working…..where I sprayed it of course LOL. (I had forgotten about this particular planting area, so they ate the buds off the day lilies and topped one of the oak leaf hydrangeas.)

Right now the late summer flowers are blooming. The garden phlox is just delightful and smells amazingly fragrant especially in the early morning. The phlox was inherited with my house, I can take no credit for it. Three different shades of pink, pink with white edges, and white. It’s old school , tall garden phlox and as opposed to more newly introduced cultivars it is fairly mildew resistant. I have split a lot of this up as well. When we first moved in it took up almost the entire front half of an old perennial bed, so I split it and replanted it all over the garden. Same with the inherited yellow lilies and flag irises.

I also cooked up a batch of hummingbird food (nectar) today. It’s easy. Four parts water to one part sugar, bring to boil in a pot on the stove, cool completely and fill your feeder. You can store the nectar in a sealed container in the refrigerator for a few days per batch. When temperatures reach the 80s and higher you should change the nectar in your hummingbird feeder every couple of days, and it works best when the feeder is in a more shady location. For more information check out the Wild Bird Shop website.

Planning ahead, I have also reserved my next pile of bulbs. Daffodils and Narcissus from Brent and Becky’s Bulbs in Virginia. I also might have to take another peek at the bargain hosta bin at Bridgewood Gardens , also located in Virginia. I will also be waiting to see what else Applied Climatology at the West Chester Growers Market has to tempt me with between now and fall!

Gardening is one of my favorite things. It is a great thing to be able to connect with nature, and it is a creative outlet. Anyone can garden. You just have to try. Start small, experiment with what you like. Get your garden on a routine and it really starts to take care of itself. I realize I garden more than a lot of people I know, yet what I am doing is not so unusual as I see a lot of similar plantings and groupings of plants in my friend Abbi’s garden in Northern New Jersey. Abbi is an artist among other things so her garden is very cool. And she does her own gardening as well.

Digging in the dirt is fun!

Thanks for stopping by, and please let me know how your garden is growing as well!

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summer salad x 2 = delicious

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I purchased some amazing produce at the West Chester Growers Market yesterday. So I decided to share with you some simple summer recipes to turn farm fresh veggies into delicious salads that were inspired by what I purchased and by the herbs growing in my garden.

Before I begin I am going to add a footnote about the parking. Last year, the lot adjacent to the market was open for parking. This year a lot of the spaces are marked off reserved….and are always empty. I don’t know whose parking lot that is adjacent to the public lot which the market sits upon but it would be nice if the Borough of West Chester maybe helped a bit more in the parking cooperativeness on Saturday mornings? After all, this market brings people to town every week.

Anyway, at the market I found the most beautiful red and yellow beets that were small and firm. I also found terrific young onions (sometimes known as spring onions) , and fresh cucumbers.

These ingredients have made two summer salads: old fashioned cucumber salad and mixed beet salad.

Mixed Beet Salad

2 bunches of smaller sized fresh beets
(Trim the tops and root ends off the beets after washing any dirt off the beet. Roast them at 350 degrees in a foil packet on a baking pan. All you do is salt and pepper the whole beets and sprinkle with olive oil. The beets take 30- 40 minutes to roast.)

1 red onion or large red spring onion chopped small

1 clove garlic minced fine

Dill (fresh), salt, pepper

4 tablespoons of olive oil

6 tablespoons red wine vinegar

After beets are roasted and cooled, peel them. Slice into thin, uniform slices. Add the onion and rest of ingredients and toss and chill.

Cucumber Salad

2 Cucumbers peeled and sliced thin

2 teaspoons of white sugar

Salt, pepper, fresh dill

1 red onion or large red spring onion chopped fine

7 or 8 tablespoons red wine vinegar

After you peel and slice the cucumbers dress with salt to taste and sprinkle the sugar over them. Toss.

Add the onion and dill to taste, add salt only if you think you need more and crack some fresh pepper over everything. Toss and chill.

Both of these recipes can be increased proportionately. Keep refrigerated and these salads are good for a few days.

Enjoy!

first strawberry!

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When I was little I planted strawberries in the garden beds. As a child I delighted in picking the fresh berries that the birds didn’t get.

This year I decided to plant strawberries again. This morning I picked my first ripe berry. I have to admit it was just as much fun picking that berry this morning as it was when I did the same thing when I was about 10 years old!

Strawberries make an attractive plant, and they are an easy groundcover in flower beds. They like to grow among perennials and roses in particular.

I grow them mostly as a decorative ground cover. I don’t know how many berries I will get in the end every year because I have a lot of birds, but it’s fun to grow them.

When I want delicious fresh strawberries (as in more than one or two) I can either stop and visit Sugartown Strawberries on Sugartown Road, or pick them up at the East Goshen Farmers Market or West Chester Growers Market!

time to put the garden to bed

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It’s November.

Hard to believe that the growing season is done, and in a couple of weeks it will be Thanksgiving. All this means it is time for my garden to go to sleep for the winter.

I have been doing it in bits and pieces, planting bulbs, mulching, trimming things back, raking leaves, piling leaves into the beds to give them an extra winter blanket.

I have been a little under the weather the past couple of days, so I haven’t been doing as much as I should have. But today I decided I needed to do a little more work in the garden, as among other things I had some clay pots and ceramic pots to empty and bring in.

Today is also a weird day for myself and members of my family because today marks eight years since my father passed away, and six years since a cousin we were very close to passed away. So I decided I needed to occupy myself with something I love to do. I love to garden.

When I was a little girl, gardening was something I did with my father. So it was only fitting in fact if I did do a little gardening today.

I harvested some remaining herbs to hang in the basement to dry. I love the smell of lavender, thyme, and oregano as it dries. I emptied out and washed out the remaining clay and ceramic pots that need to be put away inside for the winter. I also did a little trimming.

Now my garden moves into it’s late fall and winter mode. A garden in late fall and winter is a mere skeletal bit of itself, but nonetheless interesting.

I accomplished a lot in my garden this year, and hopefully my hard work will pay off next spring and summer. It is always a bit of a crapshoot to see if everything will survive over the winter, and all those bulbs you plant will come up. But I am hoping for the best. With the exception of the bulbs and a few other things, my plants are locally sourced.

The two places I buy from the most are Woodlawn Nursery and Garden Center on Paoli Pike in Malvern, and Applied Climatology which is from Delaware, but they can be found at the West Chester Growers Market.

I buy bulbs from places like Brecks and also a place called Brent and Becky’s Bulbs out of Gloucester, Virginia . I buy Hostas from Bridgewood Gardens which is near Strasburg, Virginia. For things I can’t find anyplace else I can always rely on White Flower Farm. They are located in Litchfield, Connecticut. But White Flower Farm is only an occasional habit as they are extraordinarily pricey I think.

I know a lot of people do not do their own gardening anymore, and I almost feel sorry for them. They have no idea the experience they are missing.

Gardening, overall, is so rewarding. It is good for your head, it is good for your soul, and it is a creative outlet. Digging in the dirt is a very primal thing, but there’s nothing better than to be able to sit back and watch what you’ve done grow…. literally.

When you garden you’re creating your own personal haven. Who can complain about that?

My garden is definitely one of my happy places. And that’s all year-round.

There is always something to be done in the garden. And even if it’s cold and snowy outside, I can plan and dream and wish for next season inside.

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