Lavendering in Bucks County, Pennsylvania

Lavender Ripe for the Harvest, Carousel Lavender Farm, Summer, 2015

Lavender Ripe for the Harvest, Carousel Lavender Farm, Summer, 2015

Most of my friends know my passion for lavender, — essential since that first trip to France in 1964.  The attuned know to travel for lavender apotheosis, –in this country–, to Carousel Farm, Mechanicsville, near Doylestown, in bucolic Bucks County, PA.

Bucks County's Exquisite Setting for Carousel Lavender F arm

Bucks County’s Exquisite Setting for Carousel Lavender F arm

This haven from 21st-Century stress is rich in beauty, and so carefully tended by passionate owners

Jeanette and Carousel Lavender Farm Cosmos

Jeanette Hooban Admires Carousel Farm Cosmos

Caroulsel Lavender Farm proffers outstanding products that not only have the authentic scent, but actually work as cremes, lotions and potions, emollients, air-and-linen sweeteners, and moth prevention.  There are hefty bags of culinary lavender and superbly effective candles — one has lavender flowers embedded in the wax.  The other’s floral fragrance is blended with cucumbers, to lift leftover aromas in kitchen and elsewhere, refreshing as they burn.

Dried French Lavender, Sachet, Lavender Oil, and the Two Candles

Dried French Lavender, Sachet, Lavender Oil, and the Two Candles

Here are recent scenes of this summer’s visit, just after the main harvest, but enough blossoms remaining to fascinate us and nourish assorted butterflies and bees.

Rare Red-Spotted Purple Butterfly on Lavender ready for harvest

Rare Red-Spotted Purple Butterfly on Lavender ready for harvest

Carousel Farm is only open on Saturdays from 9 til 5, but, as Michelin would say, it is definitely worthy of the journey.

Carousel Farm Barn

Carousel Farm Barn

This is their description from the Internet:   (bolds mine, for obvious reasons…)

The Carousel Farm is located in historic Bucks County PA, just outside of the Delaware River town of New Hope (90 minutes from NYC, and 45 minutes outside of Philadelphia).

The Carousel Farm, first established in 1748, has had many lives over the centuries, once a dairy farm, later a horse farm and, in the mid-20th century, an exotic animal farm. When we moved to the farm in 2000, our challenge was to put our unique imprint on the farm, maintaining its rural beauty, yet enhancing it with something beyond.

Carousel Farm Sign

Carousel Farm Sign

The inspiration for Carousel Farm Lavender came when we were traveling through the beautiful Provence countryside, where the rolling hills are graced with old grape vines and lavender fields, against a stunning backdrop of centuries-old fieldstone barns and farmhouses. Our farm, with its fieldstone farmhouse, 18th century stone barn and rolling fields broken only by fieldstone walls, seemed the perfect place to replicate the South of France.

Distant View, Carousel Farm

Distant View, Carousel Farm

Our fields, now over eight years old, are nothing short of amazing. Despite our initial worry that the harsh Northeast climate might not be ideal for the project, after testing the soil we carefully selected  four varieties of plants, both French and English, and the plants are flourishing. We have over 15,000 plants, each one planted, pruned and harvested by hand.

Lavender Fields Forever

Lavender Fields Forever

The beauty of our fields is attested to by the many of local painters and photographers who spend their days drawing inspiration from the fields. There is a store located on the property where we sell our lavender products and accessories that complement the lavender.

Venerable Window

Venerable Window

As you can tell, we are proud of our lavender fields, but perhaps we are most proud that, despite the striking natural beauty of Bucks County, we  have found a way to enhance this historic community with something at once rural, beautiful, and unique.

Open Saturday 9 til 5 but splendid products available on-line

http://www.carouselfarmlavender.com/contact-us.html

5966 Mechanicsville RD, Mechanicsville PA 18934 near Doylestown     (917) 837- 6903

Jeanette, In Her Element

Jeanette, In Her Element

Dare I mention that some of us began our Christmas shopping in that lavender-infused shop in the venerable farm building…

Tools of yesteryear adorn the grounds, as well as lamas, donkeys and assorted birds of great intrigue – but we’d forgotten our binoculars!

Toll of Yesteryear

Toll of Yesteryear

Yesterday's Essential

Yesterday’s Essential

Lavender Harvest with Tractor

Lavender Harvest with Tractor

Childhood Summers — Michigan

The lovely weather of recent weeks allows me to keep windows and doors open, so that not only light, but also air, nature sounds, and fragrances waft into my ‘new’ Lawrenceville apartment.

This morning, the departure of a small plane, –purring like the aircraft of my Michigan childhood –, thrust me right back into the silken grass of our smoothly rounded ditch in front of our little red brick house.  It was newly built by my parents, in the tiny town of Lathrup, well outside Detroit.  Hardly anyone drove down ‘California Drive’ except neighbors, guests, and the bakery truck.

There was nothing in Lathrup, not even a post office — we were officially ‘Birmingham.’  If we needed food, my father would have to drive us to ‘the store’, in the NEXT town.  ‘Store’ meant grocer.  He stood behind a weathered counter, near a worn butcher’s block.  A huge wheel of real cheddar, which we called ‘store cheese’, rested under glass to the right of the cash register.  Which was shiny black and now we’d say, ‘had all the bells and whistles,’ especially bells.  I’d give him my Mother’s list, and he’d have to go all over the tiny store and up and down a rickety ladder, to bring provisions to us.  When my father moved us here, his German mother wept:  “You are moving to the wilderness.”

By no means was Lathrup wilderness.  But we did have woods nearby, a side yard (which turned into a skating rink in winter, thanks to my father), and a ‘vacant lot’ which became a Victory Garden during the war.  (WWII)  As I wrote in an early poem, “one year the fathers, gardens overrun, waged cucumber war.”

There wasn’t much privacy in our childhood.  One of the few places where I wasn’t pursued by the grown-ups, — not even the kindly ones–, was that silky ditch.  In summer, I’d lie back into its welcoming contours, and watch blue skies hatch clouds.  I pretended that God had a cloud pipe, puffed them into existence.  Then I would seriously study, trying to find out what creatures were billowing into existence overhead.

Planes were so rare then, although we were not far, as the crow flies, from Willow Run (where Lindbergh was running wartime plane production – so we’d’ve been prime Hitler targets, had he been able to turn out sufficient transatlantic planes).  Any time one of these little miracles (I remember especially biplanes) would come into view, I could not take my eyes nor my ears away from that phenomenon.

There were bees then.  One of the key memories of lying in the ditch was hearing bees, yes, busy, in all that short white clover.  It was ceaseless, seemed deafening.

My sister liked to be out in, even to run away into, the deep woods.  I preferred the vacant lot with its myriad of wildflowers.  The colors of summer in Michigan were white Queen Anne’s lace, spiky blue chicory, and the glare and blare of gold/orange brown-eyed Susans.  The dark centers of the ‘lace’ looked far more like insects to me than the only true flower of that weed.  It never did any good to bring the ‘lace’ inside for bouquets to set in Mother’s antique pewter — the little white parts shriveled, as though shocked, into something a little thicker than dust, tumbling all over the maple tables.

The chicory always seemed to be struggling.  Towering above me in the ditch, it seemed faded, as though just giving up in summer’s heat, always closing early.  Later I would learn that Indians could tell time by the opening and closing of chicory’s washed-out blue stiff blooms, even on cloudy days.

Our mother didn’t like to cook, really, and especially turned her back on gardening.  A few spring iris grew spikily behind the house, but turned hideous as soon as each bloom twirled shut.  A few raucous marigolds, and sometimes multicolored portulaca, made up the flowers of the yard.  Everything in the side yard, especially the minuscule ‘Chinese lanterns’,  was far more fascinating to me.

As August appeared, the wild weeds put forth a parched yet spicy fragrance.  That, along with almost deafening crickets of the Fourth of July, and locusts not long thereafter, meant summer was already rolling to a close.

We knew nothing of wilderness in those days.  My sister and I had never heard of preserves, where she in Illinois and I in New Jersey, spend key nature hours in all seasons.  Nobody gave us a bird book, let alone binoculars.  When we try to remember, we ‘see’ jays, robins everywhere (the Michigan state bird), hefty crows in and around our yards.  Mallards swam in cemetery ponds.  Gulls called loud and clear as we would reach first the ferry, then the BRIDGE, to the Upper Peninsula, our absolute favorite place to be.  Never was there a gull anywhere but Northern Michigan.  And, once, above the Tahquamenon River, an eagle coursed above us on the root-beer-hued waters.

There must have been butterflies.  If so, they ‘were all monarchs’.  No fireflies in Michigan.  Each summer, we’d poke holes in Mason jar lids, fill the jars with grass, catch fireflies in Ohio and bring them back home in the back seat of one of the Pontiacs, whose hood ornaments my father resembled.  As an adult, here in Princeton, someone revealed, re lightning bugs, “Carolyn, only one sex lights.”

We’d keep summer Crayolas in the refrigerator, so they would not melt when we used them on the screened-in back porch.  Totally lacking needlework skill, I nevertheless had crocheted long strands which my father attached on the outside of the screens.  I planted blue morning glory (his nickname for me) seeds, and they exuberantly twined all the way to the top of the screens.  We colored all summer in a blue haze.  As I would write in a much later poem, there were, of course, houseflies, “bumping, disgruntled, against the tall porch screens.”

Re-experiencing “ditch days” now, in the 21st Century, my clearest memory –beyond the small planes, the huge clouds– is the sound of all those bees, singing as they worked the clover.

POLE FARM RICHES, WITHOUT BINOCULARS

Great Horned Owl, magnificent close-up, by the very talented Brenda Jones

Great Horned Owl, magnificent close-up, by the very talented Brenda Jones

(Heard, not seen, Recently)

NJWILDBEAUTY readers well know that I’ve moved so happily to Lawrenceville, –three-tenths of a mile from the bountiful new preserve, “The Pole Farm.”

Off Cold Soil Road and also off Blackwell Road and also off Keefe road are entries to this wooded paradise, full of rare birds and other wild creatures, and utilized by the nicest hikers and cyclists I’ve ever encountered.

When my sister was here from Illinois, we went to the Pole Farm at least once a day and sometimes twice.  It’s never the same twice.

Now that the seasons are changing, time in the Pole Farm will be more and more colorful.  The first crimson of woodbine is apparent.  A brassy tinge is coming into wild grape leaves everywhere, which will soon gild both sides of the trails in the sunny parts.

Two weekends ago, first a barred owl coasted majestically, then roosted in a number of copses not far from the second observatory platform.  As we walked back along Maidenhead Trail, great horned owls hooted back and forth to one another in the dark woods.

Most of the time I take my new binoculars, which are finally fulfilling me as a birder.  I want the world to know that Bushnell, for a minuscule fee of $10, examined my old non-focusing binoculars, which had been a gift and for which I had absolutely no paperwork, not even a serial number.  Some weeks after I followed their on-line directions re mailing, they sent a beautiful box holding a beautiful case and an impeccable set of absolutely brand new optics.  They and I have been inseparable ever since.  Talk about standing behind their product!

Recently, though, I thought I’d better try walking the Pole Farm without them, to experience that sacred site with my other senses.

Here is a poem that carries the magic to some degree.

For the full magic, come to the Pole Farm, in all lights and all seasons.

This is the reason it’s so vital to preserve open space in New Jersey right now — and don’t forget this in the ballot box in November!  Never has it been more important than now, for our state:  New Jersey:  KEEP IT GREEN!

Short-eared Owl white coloration

Short-Eared Owl by Brenda Jones — to be found at Pole Farm in Winter

 

WITHOUT OPTICS

 

yesterday, I left my binoculars at home

on purpose

determined to experience the Pole Farm

unmagnified

 

entering very early

no one on the trails

 

assailed by fragrance

nearly knocking me off my stride

 

pungent, multi-layered sweetness

heady, even dizzying

 

these aromas

may have been clover’s gifts

–the forceful magenta, truncated white

 

everything so still

I could hear each bee

busy at his nectaring

 

in the half-woods

where thin streams furl

I heard the plucked string

of green frog

–Casals at his tuning

 

along the forest edge, brown thrashers

ruffled underbrush

and trail dust

 

entering the deep woods

I walked into and out of

the piercing salutation

of fox

–part skunk

yet vanishing

before I could say

that ruddy word

 

so leaving new binoculars at home

returned me

to nose

to ears

 

CAROLYN FOOTE EDELMANN

Summer 2014

 

“Create a Meadow in Your Own Yard” at D&R Greenway Feb. 26

NJWILDBEAUTY readers may know that I work at D&R Greenway Land Trust most days, determined to save New Jersey Land.  For reasons beyond counting, actually.

A key purpose in this quest is to create and maintain and even restore habitat for wild creatures.

On February 26, the public may attend a meadow program at D&R Greenway — to nourish wild beauty in your very own yard:

D&R Greenway Land Trust offers a presentation on forming your own wildflower meadow, by Conservation Biologist, Diana Raichel, Wednesday, February 26 from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m.  Jim Springer of the North American Butterfly Association and Dan Cariveau, native bee expert with Rutgers University, will join Ms. Raichel.  Together they create meadows on D&R Greenway preserves.

Titled “Creating a Meadow in Your Own Yard,” this program presents techniques to transform the  home yard into a welcome site for bees, butterflies and birds.  The program is free.  Call 609-924-4646 to enroll, or rsvp@drgeenway.org.  D&R Greenway is located at One Preservation Place, off Rosedale Road, Princeton, 08540.  6:30 to 8:30 p.m.  Suitable for teens and older.