Remember the back issues of Heronswood catalogues? They may seem as scarce as hen’s teeth, but they’re still available to purchase online. Providing information and essays about the Nursery’s origin and early development, they express a unique sensibility about gardening in the Pacific Northwest. Subjects range from Asian woodland plants, “room” designs and the personalities of the founders, Dan Hinckley and Robert Jones. The “old Heronswood” modeled itself on a classical academy—customers were a bit like students and, during the Open Days, actually attended classes taught by the staff and guest lecturers.The “new Heronswood” takes a slightly different approach. While it remains dedicated to rare and unusual garden plants, our catalogue is lavishly illustrated, shorter in length, and free. Our new inclusion policy permits more plants for full sun and a wider range of hardiness zones, such as 3, 4, 5 and 6. As an expression of our commitment to reliably provide you with satisfying plants, our assortment has been reduced from about 2,600 to 1,200 cultivars, most of which are offered on the website, and all in excellent quantities. This is still a stunning range of unique and rare cultivars.
We continue to work at our testing facilities at our previous headquarters in Kingston, Washington (zone 8), while we strive to find a new owner for the estate. This will enable us to continue breeding Hellebores and to test other woodland plants precisely for the warm, wet zone 8 conditions. However, our 2007 Open Days will be held at Fordhook Farm in Doylestown, Pennsylvania, where we maintain 12 gardens on 60 acres, both full sun and in various levels of shade, including a brand new pond complex and greatly expanded perennial test plots.
Our Open Day programs at Fordhook will include traditional lectures and garden tours. Each festival will be a 2-day event featuring speakers, rare plant auctions, free gifts and refreshments, and delicious food at the complimentary Friday afternoon receptions on the spectacular veranda of the historic Burpee farmhouse. Our next event, on Friday and Saturday, April 20 and 21, features Hellebores, especially our newest Heronswood hybrids, the first clonal varieties ever offered, as well as many other early spring plants.
In addition, there will be a special presentation by Bill Lefevre of Bartram’s Garden on early American horticulture, in particular the plants and gardens of the pre-Revolutionary era. Bartram’s Garden (www.bartramsgarden.org) is the oldest continuously operating botanical garden in North America. It even possesses a layout very similar to Fordhook, so it should be an especially fascinating lecture.
As in 2006, a substantial amount of the proceeds from the revenue will be donated to our friends at The Garden Conservancy. W. Atlee Burpee and Heronswood Nursery are the exclusive national sponsors of the Conservancy’s Open Day program.
Future Heronswood Nursery events will be held on May 19 and 20, August 3 and 4, and September 20 and 21. In addition, Fordhook Farm perennial, annual and vegetable gardens are available for tours for both large and small groups. June and July are wide open for reservations. Please call 215-345-4131.
Come see us.