She Happily Leads Folks Down the Garden Path
ASK HOW her garden grows and Mary Harrison of , Ohio will gladly tell you every bloomin’ thing there is to know!
“Growing season is one big garden party around here,” she smiles from Mary’s Plant Farm. 6 acres of perennials, shrubs, grasses. rare roses, herbs and hostas, all for sale. “Folks have an open invitation to tour our grounds to see how our nursery stock looks in a garden setting.”
From April through October, she guides visitors down a fragrant floral path to view her water garden with a falls and a footbridge. A wildflower walk leads them through a rose bed and pergola and on to a sunny rockery ringing a formal herb garden.
Known for her unusual and specialty plants, Mary confirms that many of her garden-variety interests go back to her girlhood. “A number of my oldfashioned flowers are transplants from my parents’ backyard.
“Many customers seek out my hollyhocks and antique peonies and lilies so they can have a garden just like their grandmother’s.” she explains.
The roots of Mary’s budding business run deep in family, too. “My husband, Alvis, builds our nursery frames, our daughter, Sherri Berger, is our manager, and we turn my sister, Fern, loose on the weeds,” she chuckles. “Our granddaughter, Amanda, 23. also helps during our busy season.”
For 16 years, Mary’s crew has picked the first Sunday in June to share their “grow-how” with the public. “Some 200plus people attend our annual Gardener’s Day, which includes tours, lectures and down-to-earth tips,” she advises.
“We offer a feast for the eyes and the taste buds at our homegrown buffet. Guests sample everything from herbal cookies and cheese spreads to lemon grass tea, herb garden tea (see recipe at right), edible flowers and violet jelly.
“Folks of all ages enjoy our beautiful gardens,” she adds. “To encourage future green thumbs, we pass out flowerfilled coloring books to tiny tykes.. .and give away seed packets to kids old enough to plant them and begin their own gardens.”
Sounds like the perfect way to cultivate an ongrowing tradition!
Editor’s Note: For information on Gardener’s Day, June 4, send a self-addressed stamped envelope to Mary ‘s Plant Farm, 2410 Lanes Mill Rd., OH 45013. Or call 1513/894-0022. Mary’s plants andflowers are also available by mail-order. For a catalog, send $1 (refundable with first purchase).
HERB GARDEN TEA
1/4 cup finely chopped lemon balm
1/4 cup finely chopped fresh mint
1/4 cup lemon juice 1/4 cup orange juice
1/4 cup honey
2 liters ginger ale
In a bowl, combine the first five ingredients; let stand for 1 hour. Strain; discard herbs. Pour tea into a 2-1/2-qt. pitcher. Stir in ginger ale just before serving. Serve in chilled glasses. Yield: 9 servings.
PERENNIAL PICK of gardeners is a visit to Mary Harrison’s Plant Farm. Guests join Mary, her sister and daughter (right to left, top) in the water garden and savor blooms.
Text from Country Woman © magazine March/April 2000