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July 6, 2013

How their gardens grow

Local residents to host Garden Conservancy Open Day


The couple returned home to research major players in gardening and took the plunge of first developing a vegetable plot. The next project was creating a landscape of petunias. 

“We use the natural terrain while gardening,” Searles said. “We eventually acquired a property with a rambling stream and began gardening around the water flow.” 

Rocks from the farm are used as a means to turn a problem into an opportunity, adding to the lanscape. 

Each year brings new delights. “A few years ago we built a living willow dome,” Searles said. “It arches six feet high.” 

The cupola was used in their daughter’s wedding last year and will again be used this year when their son gets married.

Berry Brook Farm at 310 Henderson Hollow Road in the town of Colchester is gardened by Mermer Blakeslee and Eric Hamerstrom.

“A garden, to me, isn’t something to look at, but to be within,” Blakeslee said. “Gardening is only partially about the plants.” 

Berry Brook Farm is cultivated as a whole. The gardens originate with the place, whether it be a dry stream bed, or a huge rock, a hill, a dog’s path, a swamp, the surrounding woods, or the weather. Plants are chosen for the place. “This simple, yet profound idea saves gardeners from a lot of work,” Blakeslee said. 

Not to mean gardening doesn’t require work; it does, Blakeslee points out. However, when the site, weather and nuance of the land are worked with, the work becomes joy, she said. 

Blakeslee recommends planting epimediums, astilbes and Solomon seal perennials for shady areas; and geranium, veronicastrum virginicum, and Japanese anemones for perennials in the sunny areas. 

“A garden gets very interesting when you plant at every level,” added Blakeslee. “Ground covers, bulbs, grasses, shrubs, vines and small trees are appealing in a garden.” 

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