The Farmer's Daughter|
Our blog is written by Jennifer Shea, Dan and Cathy's oldest daughter. Jennifer is part of the 13th generation of Schoonmakers to work on Saunderskill Farm.
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Garden Centers Bloom in April
April 30, 2012
Local Plant and tool suppliers bursting with spring supplies.
Gardens are as individual as fingerprints. Some are high-concept works of art, others straightforward and practical and meant to save on supermarket bills. Some people prefer masses of wildflowers designed to offer a honeybee haven, some crave geometrically perfect rows of vegetable bounty. You probably have a vision of your dream garden in your mind, and are well aware that getting there will take work. When it comes to sup¬plies, advanced know how, and the nitty-gritty lowdown of digging in the dirt, your local garden center can be your best friend.
We're fortunate to have a variety of excellent garden centers in the area, run by people who are passionate about helping you create that vision and nurturing it to luxuriant reality. Growing a relationship with the pros at your favorite ones can be a key ingredient in your gardening success. That relationship can be as simple as plunking down a few bucks for mulch and tools, or as in-depth as a series of on-site consultations-at classes, workshops and festivals, garden center owners and their teams share the kind of knowledge base that makes the difference between frustration and luxuriant results.
For basic tools, don't overlook the gardening departments at local suppliers like Herzog's, Williams Home Centers and Agway. The rakes and hoses may be a bit pricier than big box stores, but the cost is worth supporting a local business. And the smaller stores often supply higher quality goods.
For seedlings, design advice, tips and other factors that are considerably more individual than a spade, you'll want to get to know the experts at a more specialized establishment. If you're combining animal husbandry with your gardening, New Paltz Agway offers a full line of supplies for that as well as gardening and nursery needs. Their wide variety of fencing and decorative choices will inspire. They pride themselves on a service-oriented staff that can answer questions and cheerfully help you load your purchases.
At Adams Fairacre Farms in Kingston, you can combine your garden-supplies mission with your grocery shopping. Adams has been growing as a company since 1933, in what founder's son Donald describes as a "natural progression." Nursery Retailer magazine named Adams number 19 on their Top 100 list of independent garden centers, and it's not hard to see why: with full lines of both chemical and organic supplies for soil preparation and pest control, their selection is extensive. "Every garden accessory under the sun," proclaims their website, all the way to the comfy patio furniture you'll want to collapse in after your labors are complete.
The folks at Adams have not forgotten their roots. On the site of their original farm stand in Dutchess County, Mark and Sue Adams grow all of the live plants for the company's four stores in a five-acre greenhouse. That would be some 300,000 hardy perennials and two million bedding plants, nurtured with TLC and expertise.
The Rondout Valley being farm country, you'd expect to find excellent homegrown garden centers-and you'd be right. The local longtime farm families share their expertise graciously and often; you'll find baked goods, wonderful coffee and such local produce as you aren't growing yourself along with all of your basic gardening needs.
The nice thing about family-run garden centers is getting to know people who share your passion for growing. "People come in with all kinds of questions and we either know the answers or find them for them," says Cathy Schoonmaker of Saunderskill Farms in Accord. "It's a learning process that we try to help with. And we do have very knowledgeable people. My daughter's getting her degree in horticulture." Saunderskill, too, offers a full line of annuals, perennials and soil prep products. "Soil preparation is the biggest thing to get right," says Schoonmaker. "If you don't prepare properly, nothing else will go well, no matter what you do."
Ellenville-area gardeners are blessed by the presence of Barthel's, known for excellent produce and offering a full line of trees, shrubs and other seedlings along with soil supplies and tools. Like Saunderskill, they're active members of the Rondout Valley Growers' Association; tap into this network and you won't have to worry about being able to find what you need. If one member doesn't have a product, they'll know who does and send you
Located in Kerhonkson, the Catskill Native Nursery specializes in plants that are especially suited to the soil of the region some 800 varieties of them. Built on a site that's been a garden since the 1820s, the owners welcome you to come look around and get a feel for their style. Ferns, .grasses, vines and wildflowers galore can be found along with native fruit trees and shrubs. Owner Francis Groeters, a Catskill native himself, came to his profession from a different angle entirely-advanced work in insect ecology. "Most of my research involved insects that feed on plants so I was always growing plants to feed my insects," he explains on his website. Partner Diane is an artist who co¬creates within her own specialty: Green Witch Herbs and Garden Design.
Victoria Gardens in Rosendale is another place you'll want to get to know if you'd like your garden artistic. Victoria hosts events and workshops on topics such as fairy, hummingbird and butterfly gardens, as well as casual coffee and conversation sessions where gardeners can tap into her and each other's expertise. Her selection of home and garden art is rivaled only by her range of interests-read her blog for the latest on green walls and pro-horticultural activities.
In New Paltz, Horst Techmer and his family have been operating Techmer Nursery since 1974, with expertise originally acquired in Germany and Luxemburg. They also specialize in outdoor antiques, and in building wonders out of stone.
Clearly, there's no need to struggle all alone with the challenges of less-than-perfect soil, voracious critters and shifting weather patterns. At our local garden centers, you'll become part of a larger community that is devoted to keeping Ulster County green, growing and glorious.
This article came from Country Wisdom