Each year, Doylestown-based W. Atlee Burpee & Co. hosts several "Open Days," when visitors can stroll through the grounds at Fordhook Farm and learn more about growing flowers and vegetables.
This research facility and test garden was the home of the company's founder, Washington Atlee Burpee. The terrain is varied with full sun and annual and perennial gardens, ornamental gardens in sun and shade, container gardens, woodland perennial gardens, and vegetable gardens in field rows and raised beds.
Significant scientific advances in seed production were made at Fordhook Farm including the creation of the world's first hybrid vegetable and flower. Other hybrids and varieties were developed such as the hybrid tomato, pepper, spinach, golden bantam sweet corn, and Fordhook lima bean. In addition, the first permanent seed trials in the U.S. were conducted here.
This year during the June Open Days, Jeannette Haviland-Jones, Ph.D. of Rutgers University will give a lecture on the flower's measurable ability to induce happiness and elevate mood. Other activities include free guided garden tours, free perennials planting demonstrations and free lectures on perennial vegetables. You can purchase perennials too.
Event admission is $5, applicable to the plant sale. Lecture tickets are $15 and can be purchased online and on-site at the event. The lecture will be at 11 a.m. and 2 p.m.
I recently took a stroll through the grounds and visited the Happiness Garden, Spring House Garden, Big Pond Garden and Kitchen Garden. This time of year you'll find a variety of plants in bloom including hydrangeas in every color, red hot poker (Kniphofia), coreopsis, echinacea, yarrow, daylilies, butterfly bush, and the most amazing plant, the Giant Himalayan Lily (Cardiocrinum giganteum).
This fragrant white lily can grow more than 10 feet tall. With large heart-shaped leaves and a glorious scent, make sure to find this plant in the Big Pond Garden, just past the Spring House Garden. Ideally, this plant prefers semi-shaded, moist woodland conditions. The knowledgeable gardeners at Fordhook Farm know how to tend this uncommon plant.
In August, visit the farm on Friday and Saturday, Aug. 24 and 25 for the "Tomato Tournament," where visitors can enter their tomatoes in various competitions including: the biggest tomato, best-tasting tomato, and more. Activities will also include a tomato tasting.
Check Burpee's website for updates and more details on these Open Days.