Hornbaker Farms and Blueberry Hill

July 5, 2010

Tony and I went blueberry picking today and then stopped at Hornbaker Gardens. Such a good husband.

We drove to Plow Creek Farms and then up to Blueberry Hill, on a one lane dirt road hugged by trees and bushes and marked with a sign reading “Caution. Two way traffic.” Thankfully, we did not meet anyone coming the other way, which would have been a challenge to pass, to say the very least. The Hill is covered in blueberry bushes that are covered in blueberries. The young man giving us buckets directed us to the right row, told us where to start and let us go.

At first it seemed a Herculean task, as the bottom of the bucket didn’t seem to get covered with berries in any reasonable amount of time. Then I got in the zone and the berries seemed to fall off the branches in bunches and we picked in a comfortable silence. Then I looked at my watch. We had been picking for over 30 minutes. My bucket was about half full, Tony’s not so quite. For another 15 minutes we picked and then Tony had had enough. We walked back to the check in area, still picking when we saw a ripe juicy cluster. When we weighed out, we had a little over 9 pounds and we paid just about $20. Gotta love U-Picks. The young man told us the bushes were about 25 years old and that it takes a good 8 to 10 years to get any type of real harvest from a bush.

Then to lunch at Kramer’s Kitchen, across from Kramer’s Wine Cellar and down the street from Kramer’s Garage Doors. We speculated about Kramer and hoped he was a nice man, as he seems to own a great deal of Princeton. A beautiful quilt of the 50 states, with a note about its maker, hung in the Kitchen and Tony noticed that the Lion’s Club meets the 1st and 3rd Tuesdays and the Optimist’s Club meets the 2nd and 4th Tuesdays, so we think Kramer must be a good guy after all.

At Hornbaker, I found a ligularia, Little Rocket, which has bright yellow flowers and thrives in shade, just perfect for the pin oak, behind the astibles and in with the Jack-in-the-Pulpit. The Hornbaker woman who overheard me made a noise and I asked if that was okay. She said, “Oh, yes, I was thinking that was a perfect spot.” We also found a Candy Phlox and Bee Balm for the butterfly garden. We bought all three. Hornbaker is a beautiful spot, with a lush pond, display gardens and employees who are happy to chat and educate you.

Leaving, we saw deer cross the road in front of us and leap through open fields.

Getting home, I planted all three, watered everything and hooked up the rain barrel to the soaker hose in the edible garden. Because the yard slopes, there is enough pressure to make it work, which is such a happy use of the rain barrel. And I don’t have to haul it back and forth! I noticed a row of plants that I don’t remember planting, but maybe I did. I hope they are sunflowers. There are watermelon as big as goose eggs already, getting stripes, but still covered with hair.

Coming around the corner of the house, I was able to be ready instead of be surprised for the turtledoves that eat the seed the finches drop. Each and every time I come around that corner, they take off in a flurry of wings and whistling. You would think I would have learned weeks ago! This time, I was ready, camera in hand, walking slowly to capture them.

I think Tony ate more blueberries than he put in his bucket.

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