The Accidental Gardener

The Accidental Gardener

It all started when I decided our old 1790 farmhouse should be surrounded by my Grannie's old garden flowers.  Then a few weeks later, without any prompting,  my mother handed me a piece of notebook paper listing her fond memories of hollyhocks, roses, lambs ears, mints, sweet peas and more.   So I picked up some seeds and a shovel and dug a small garden.  The next year I wanted fresh picked healing herbs grown in lovely soil I could trust, so I planted a few herbs.  Meanwhile, old bouncing bet, mullein, chicory, motherwort and other flowers started popping up; some of which the Native Americans used as medicines and some the early settlers planted.  When they popped up, I watched them and researched them until I could identify who they were and how and why they were used.    I wanted the garden somewhat groomed and the lawn mowed quietly, so I adopted two very sweet sheep who also supported me in my view that our 'weedy grass' is, with a simple change in perspective,  a  healthful pasture.   And, so, one day I woke up and realized I was a gardener.  Maybe most of us are gardeners from time to time, if only while we are transplanting our indoor spider plant.  And I wasn't a gardener by any commercial definition.  I only was a gardener to me, to the creatures around me like the chickadees who followed me around the garden by hopping and flying and making all kinds of tweeting racket.  "What is she doing?  Why is she moving that? Somebody needs to tell her where to put those." is what I imagine they are saying to each other, and to a few rare, curious individuals with eccentric leanings, and to people who resignedly concluded that I must be gardener since I'm always in the garden.    I never set out to be a gardener or an expert on gardening.  I am still no expert and I sometimes recruit the advice of real experts like the artistic gardener/landscaper Shannon Goheen (Second Nature Gardenworks) and the wonderful whimsical aesthetic leanings of Nettie Berkeley of Yarmouth Port.   I have an oak tree that I converse with, though, and he is the real expert.  ( I am not the first person to communicate with plants; go ahead, try it.  I think you will be very pleasantly surprised).  

So, I was amazed when Karin Lidbeck Brent, a stylist and editor with the Meredith Magazine Group stopped by one day with Shannon to take a look at Saturday Farm.  Many thanks and much kudos to Karin for seeing the beauty and potential of a natural 'weedy' garden and to Better Homes & Gardens' Country Gardens publication for having the open-mindedness to feature Saturday Farm in their Special Anniversary Edition of their magazine.   And, of course, thank you to my talented companion, Harry Eisener, who has put up with me all of these years and my nudges and suggestions for another arbor... maybe a little pond....:-). Thank you Harry!  

If you are visiting Saturday Farm and you want to know more about the garden, just let me know, I'd be happy to introduce you to my green friends. 



Run, herring, run!

The Herring River and Harwich Conservation Land

Whenever Harry and I find ourselves with an hour or so to spare, we often go to the Harwich Conservation Land. It's an easy, beautiful one-mile bike ride. There are two beautiful bridges in the Conservation Land and there are times when the view from those bridges is just breathtaking. There often are people crabbing there off the bridges, catching a nice lunch or dinner. The Harwich Conservation Land now encompasses 448 protected acres and it is “Olde Cape Cod” at its best with wonderful trails and the Herring River. In particular, we enjoy the West and East Reservoirs where swans and the Great Blue Heron can often be seen, and where we go hiking, kayaking, fishing, and biking. In fact, the Cape Cod Rail Trail (a 22-mile paved bike trail) runs through the conservation land, and bikes can easily be rented and delivered to Saturday Farm, waiting for you when you arrive.   

 The Conservation Land is wonderful all year, but if you are a nature lover like me, you’ll be excited for early spring. April features...The Herring Run! The Herring Run should more appropriately be called The Herring Leap or The Fish Olympics. It is an amazing demonstration of incredible strength in such a small little fish and it is a sight to behold. On the Cape we say, “You know spring has sprung when the herring run,” because the herring can't run until the water temperature is at least 50 degrees. This is usually from around April 1st to mid-May. Herring are anadromous fish that are born in fresh water, spend their lives at sea, and then make the very difficult uphill journey back to freshwater to spawn. And they don't eat anything while they are on this journey! Basically, to get from the lower elevation of the sea to the higher elevation of the fresh water, these fish need to swim, jump, leap, and fight vigorously against the current until they finally arrive into the peaceful, calm, fresh, warm water to spawn. The herring we have here are repeat spawners and may live from seven to ten years. Whenever I see the herring 'run,’ I am amazed how few people are there to see it or even how few people know about it. When I watch a herring make that final leap into the calm fresh water, I cheer! I must look ridiculous, but I can't help myself.  


If you reserve Saturday Farm during April or early May, we'd be happy to give you directions to the Herring Run.