Monday, June 11, 2012

Beagle Ridge

"How about Beagle Ridge Herb Farm?" I asked my Best Friend.

"If they sell basil plants, then it sounds like a GO," she answered. "Our present plants going to seed."

After a phone call confirmed that Beagle Ridge did indeed sell herbs, we went online to find directions.

Even with the following description of the road for the last 3.5 miles, we set off for the Destination of the Day.

"The road is full of potholes for the first mile. There has been ongoing logging for the last few years, and I am afraid there are more

potholes than road. After the first mile the road turns to gravel and improves greatly (if only the first mile was this nice) the farm is

3.5 miles down on the left. When you get to the gate which says Private road--Authorized Vehicles Only, keep coming; you are about

half way there. Be sure not to turn down a driveway until you see the Beagle Ridge Herb Farm sign at our driveway" (

Along the way, we saw this "For Sale" sign and arrows pointing along a gravel lane. It was very difficult to pass this lane without driving to see the property, but the road we were traveling was already enough of an adventure.

When we arrived, we found a good parking space and began our walk through the herb garden. The layout of the garden provided a fine
combination of display areas,

attention spaces,

and places to rest.

There is a tea garden, a formal walled herbal display garden, a Lavender walk, Thyme, Oregano and Lavender collections, a pergola which shades the medicinal herbs, a water garden, a Cottage garden, a Wildlife habitat garden, shrub borders with rogusa roses for long season bloom, a Japanese Meditation garden, and a Gravel/ Mediterranean garden.

Beyond the herb garden was a wooded area that seemed an ideal area for hiking

or viewing wildlife (or being viewed by wildlife).

We imagined that since the farm and its gardens were open to visitors only four days a week and were a bit off the main road only a few people would make the trek to this spot on Matney Flats Road about 10 miles south of Wytheville (VA) in a year.

"We've had visitors from 47 states and some from other countries. Last week we had a group from England stop by," Ellen mentioned in a matter-of-fact tone, but with a smile indicating a sense of pride and satisfaction.

She is shown holding a leaf of milkweed with caterpillars on it. Seeing our interest, she invited us back to the room where caterpillars of varying ages were living. These caterpillars will become Monarch butterflies.

Our conversation with Ellen ranged from butterflies to bats to bees. As we walked through the Flying Flowers (the name given to butterflies in gardens) site, we talked about the Herb Farm's education program.

She talked about her work with area schools, including a program called "Kids Grow in Gardens, Too" and spoke enthusiastically when describing the experiences kids have with planting seeds, caring for the vegetables, harvesting the crops, and enjoying a meal with the food they had grown.

We learned that butterflies will be attracted to Sage, Echinacea, Thyme, Hyssop, Lavender, Oregano and Borage in a garden.

The butterfly exhibit has only been in existence for about two years, and by having specialized in butterfly plantings, the team has identified 32 different butterflies in the gardens.

Classes for adults range from composting, gardening without pesticides, and butterfly gardening to photographing gardens, wreathing making, and making lotions and bath salts.

We left with two basil plants--very unusual basil plants. The particular variety is not grown from seed--only from cuttings. So, the plants will not go to seed. We will be able to pick the leaves from the top for quite a while.

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