Yes, yes, I know I raved about Terrain a few weeks ago. But there is a different sort of nursery that I love even more. It's the kind of nursery that's nurtured by people who have faith in the future, love, love, LOVE nature, and have a passion for plants. I knew I would like it because two different people who I admire and respect as plant lovers told me about it. It was written on a scrap of yellow paper in my "shopping" basket at home for TWO YEARS. Finally, the other week I took off from work, got in my truck and drove out into the sticks of Pennsylvania. I knew I was getting close when I stopped to get some afternoon caffeine and the corner store sold both food and hunting supplies. When I pulled into the tiny parking lot of Point Phillips Perennials I knew I would leave with a truck full.
It always takes a minute or two for me to get my bearings in a place like Point Phillips. I did a quick tour before I even got a cart just to see how extensively I would be shopping. My heart skipped a beat when I saw paw paw trees, which have been on my list for over a decade. And OMG is that an OSAGE ORANGE tree???????!!!!!!!! A silent squeal of delight escaped from my lips. I quickly but stealthfully (so as to escape undue notice) went to get a cart. On my front porch at that moment was a red bucket full of dried and darkened Osage orange fruits that I had picked up at a busy roadside last fall, in hopes of planting and getting a tree out of it. Osage oranges have this green, baseball-size fruit that look like hard green brains. Last year, when I had them still in my car, a young man was helping me put groceries into it and when I opened my trunk he said, "OH my God, what is that smell?? It's the best smell I've ever smelled in my whole life!!!" Well, now I most certainly was going to have my own tree in my own yard with my own good smelling green brain fruits (not to eat, just to admire).Another totally cool thing about Point Phillips Nursery is that Mr. Point Phillips and his son make beautiful, weather proof, composite stone planters and yard decorations...the kind that, probably unbeknownst to them, sell for a fortune in Manhattan. They also make those things that look like giant stone mushrooms and used to hold up buildings in Ireland. Thank goodness I own a truck! And all the plants at their nursery they've grown and cultivated themselves. It's not a huge place, but it's the kind of place you can find unique and happy plants that will grow organically in your yard because they haven't already been all jacked up with chemicals.
I also found some valerian, which I had grown with utmost pleasure at my old house but forgot to bring with me, and lord knows you can't find it at most nurseries. When I asked Kay Johns, who is the proprietor with her husband Herb (yes, they make jokes about it), she knew just what I was talking about. These are my kind of people...just smart folks who love plants and growing things.
If you're reading this, consider yourself lucky if you live close enough to visit them. They do workshops and garden tours, too. If you don't live close enough, I have a feeling there are many others like them out there, near you. Just ask the people who have the nicest gardens where they go to buy their plants. You may have to ask around, take some back roads and venture into new territory...but just think, at least you don't have to ride a horse and send your plants home via a three-to-six month boat ride like John Bartram, William Banks and those other plant hunters did!
For more from Maria Rodale, go to www.mariasfarmcountrykitchen.com