Thursday, August 11, 2005

Tripplebrook Farm - A Native Plant Nursery

I have been wanting to find a Native plant supplier which is "local" to me so that I would know if the plants would take our growing conditions and obviously get somewhat local advise, but everything I was finding was based out of Ohio. Then someone on Garden Web recommended this place and I decided that it was close enough to visit, so last weekend we made the trip

Tripplebrook Farm is located in Southampton, western MA about 20 minutes north of exit 4 on the Masspike, for us this was about an hours trip from our weekend house at exit 2 (Lee / Becket). I had visited the website on Friday and it had recommended that I call in advance to let Steve (the owner) know that we were coming so that he could meet with us. We arrived a little early but Steve very quickly made an appearance and welcomed us with open arms. Now Steve is a character, he is one of these older guys who has been digging in the dirt since birth, his parents (may have been grandparents) brought the land in 1916 and it has been the family home ever since. If he owned a boat then I could quite happily describe him as a "salty old sea-dog", permanently tanned from exposure, lines of knowledge in his face etc...

I had expected Steve to just welcome us, give us a quite description of where we could find what I was looking for and then let me loose on his land, I couldn't have been more wrong! I quickly realised that it was his intention to personally show me around the nursery, describing the plants and their characteristics. This was AWESOME since it was my first foray into Native Gardening and I still have VAST amounts to learn. Everything he sells at the Farm also has a permanent place in his landscape and he was able to show me the plants established and mature. I was particularly interested in the Sweet Pepperbush (Clethra alnifolia) & the Highbush Cranberry (Cranberry Viburnum), he was able to show me both of these in his landscape and I have to say that seeing the mature plants made me want them even more, photos in catalogues just do not do the Clethra any justice! While showing me the colony of Clethra he cut off a small branch for me so that I could smell the flowers and see it up close, the bee's just LOVE it and I had three land on my cutting whilst carrying it around!

Some other notable plants I saw at the Farm were the stand of very well established Joe Pye Weed which topped out at about 8ft and had stems to thick and healthy not even a hurricane would knock it over! Horsemint with its beautiful flower spikes. Mountain Mint which had so many different varieties of Bee on it that I lost count (I have to get some of this plant!). Rice Grass which stood tall and graceful in a small pond (I wish I had water to grow this grass!). The Monarda's were just WONDERFUL in person and there were many others

The Farm is not pretty and manicured, it is working land but organised. The plants are all propagated onsite from established plants that are growing happy and healthily in the landscape. What Steve doesn't have there he buys or responsibly collects from the wild, he has a LONG list of plants he would like to get his hands on!

His knowledge of the plants is AMAZING and happily kept me entertained for three hours until DH came and told me he was getting cranky cos' he was hungry (definitely time to go!). I could have spent much longer with Steve. I brought my Clethra and Cranberry shrubs, both of which are now happily establishing themselves in my garden

I HIGHLY RECOMMEND this place to anyone wanting to make the trip. They do do mail-order for those to far away, there are a couple of negatives on the Garden Watchdog site but there are more positives. Having met Steve and visited this farm I put the negatives down to the fact that sometimes things go wrong, even if you have the very best intentions. I will be ordering from them for the Spring