Let’s just say Countryside Garden Club gets around and doesn’t let any grass grow under our feet! As the song goes “On the road again….”
Yup; that’s right we set out again on another garden trip adventure this time we started out by eating the most important meal of the day; breakfast at Friendly’s in Lantana Square. Some of us ate before we arrived but most engaged in a lovely chat and chew while our Madam President Ginny showed off her organizational skills
(that’s right it’s an oversized posted noted totally cool, I think me and Ms. Kathe lost our minds with excitement she truly fed our OCD needs to keep stuff in order) and conducted quite an efficient business meeting prior to releasing us to venture out for our little garden excursion.
So where did we end up? On a 2 acre countryside property in Oxford, Pa at the home of Paul and Jane Murphy who also happen to have a Heath and Heather nursery perfectly tucked into this beautiful little haven complete with a backdrop of pillowing clouds, a bough bank barn, neighboring horses and rolling vistas of Chester County, total bliss!
This sweet couple’s
love of a particular plant turned into an after retirement Ma and Pa business specializing in Heath and Heather.
What exactly is a Heath plant and what exactly is a Heather plant? First off, all Heathers are Heath but not all Heaths are Heathers. Don’t you love it when a gardener or horticulture person speaks like that, as if some how it helps you understand more clearly what they are saying when it’s still clear as mud!
In layman terms let’s see if we can break it down for you: the plants Heath and Heather are in the family Ericaceae (phonetically Erica’kay sha’) which includes mostly shrubs, often evergreen, loving poor acidic soil, moors or bogs, they have urn or bell shape flowers and come in mainly colors of pink, purple, white and red.
They form thick mats of foliage, love hillsides,
cool to cold temps, dappled shade area, and too much sun makes them unhappy. They are primarily natives of the rocky highlands of Scotland. And just to make things interesting, blueberries and huckleberries are in this family as well.
We were educated about this interesting plant group in the living room area of the Murphy’s beloved old farm home circa 1860 with other parts of the house constructed in the 1900’s; when searching for the perfect nursery location the old home was a must.
When shopping for these plants or you could just simply go to Jane and Paul’s nursery to shop (or visit them online at http://www.hickoryhillheather.com), if the label says Erica it’s a Heath if the label says Calluna it’s a Heather. Looking closely at the foliage one can see a difference in the arrangement of the leaves and how one is feathery (Heath) and the other tightly compacted (Heather).
I will share my silly way that I will remember- give a Heath bar to Erica and give a Call to Heather yeah silly I know but when learning these botanical names a girl’s gotta do what a girl’s gotta do, LOL. Interesting fact the word Calluna comes from the Greek word Kalluna which means to cleanse or adorn; these plants were used for making brooms.
The nursery is subtly showcased in their gorgeous country garden, located in a mid to large sized greenhouse I was told and expected to visit a gift shop with cute little shelves lined with plants intermingled with garden art and garden chotskies; NOT. It was just a standard commercial style nursery sparsely filled with plants mainly Heath and Heather but also other interesting plants that a gardener might want. We had a ball loading up on the perfect Heath or Heather for our gardens.
Prior to shopping we were given a tour of the propagating greenhouse, which looked like a quaint storage building. Inside
were many babies waiting to be planted, that is whenever Jane “got to it” my kind of real deal gardener, she wasn’t stressed at all just passionate about what her and Paul did but not consumed or obsessed and this showed throughout their property. Their lovely space displayed an energy of peace for their love of gardening.
Put it this way, there wasn’t even a sign out front that said Heath & Heather Nursery which speaks volumes it’s tells me the business just happened out of a love for something they enjoyed and the business doesn’t dictate who they are or need to be.
As we were about to leave the propagating greenhouse one table of baby plants were blanketed with the most beautiful moss. As soon as the word moss was spoken Hiro’s ears perked up. And then of course in our love of Hiro we became enablers and contributed to him getting what he needed; some moss! Kathe had no problem picking it by the finger pinches and openly went about handing him a lovely stash of moss blessed of course by Jane to take all we wanted. Let’s just say it was a great bonus for Hiro; to not only go home with Heath and Heather but also with the greenest and moist precious little clumps of moss.
This is the real blessing of gardening : to share unconditionally 🙂 which equals a “Very Happy Hiro”!
We ended our visit with a leisurely stroll through the rest of the garden our arms filled with the plants we purchased, smiles on our faces and quite a bit of knowledge about Heath and Heathers.
Thanks Jane and Paul; we appreciated your time, your passion for your favorite plants, your laid back awesome gardener attitudes, the vista and the views and more importantly giving us another opportunity to bond as gardeners and friends on another lovely road trip.