coneflowers and black-eyed Susans line a path through the
Blame it on the bees. If Elizabeth
Waldron’s gardens look better than those of her neighbors, she can
thank the several hives of honeybees that she’s allowing beekeeper
Andy Hemken to keep on her Sussex property.
"I know that bees are important
for pollinating plants and flowers and I wanted to increase my supply
of vegetables and flowers," she says. "I had been looking
for some time for someone to put hives on our property and maintain
them and that’s what Andy does."
The yellow-and-black creatures must
think they’re in bee heaven with the selection of flowering plants
and vegetables that Waldron maintains on her 10 acres. When they’re
tired of sipping nectar from her vegetable blooms, they can take their
pick of the blossoms in her cutting garden, the perennial garden, the
shade garden, on the woodland plants in her woods, even the cattails
and Queen Anne’s lace that grow in the wetland area.
Waldron and her husband, John, moved to
their Sussex home six years ago after spending 42 years in their
former house. "Being a master gardener for 25 years, the move
gave me room to experiment and do what I’ve always wanted to
do," she says. "The old house had considerably less land. I
needed more challenges."
A sign and pair of scissors propped in
a metal pole invite visitors to enter the cutting
garden for samples.
In her cutting garden, Waldron grows
the traditional chrysanthemums and gladioli. "I like to make
bouquets and give them away," she admits. Raspberry bushes have
claimed their own section of the property, multiplying and scattering
all over the place.
Knowing it’s better to give than to
receive, Waldron tends to a perennial garden where she grows plants
for the annual master gardener plant sale every year. The group can
count on receiving a truckload of plants from her to sell. She will
also sell extra plants, such as pearly everlastings for fun. "I
put a small sign for the sales out front," says Waldron.
"There’s just enough business that I enjoy it."
Some of her outdoor time is spent
removing invasive species like garlic mustard from the 3 acres of
woods so that the native species of trilliums and jack-in-the-pulpits
can thrive. Trails throughout the woods are maintained for walking
pleasure as well as getting vehicles in and out for removing downed or
damaged trees. Part of keeping up the mulched trails involves removing
the native species. Those plants are frequently "rescued" by
people who are members of the Wild Ones, a natural landscaping group.
Waldron’s shade garden features
hostas that she brought with her from her former home, varieties of
calla lilies, ferns, ginger and pussytoes, a small, low-growing plant
with whitish pink to yellow flowers. "I rescued the pussytoes
from my daughter’s property," she says.
Tomatoes, green peppers and onions can
be found growing in the vegetable garden. "I plant enough onions
to last the whole winter season," she says. "I supply
friends and neighbors with them."
A handmade gate leads to another area
of the yard where a variety of birdhouses is a
welcoming sight for feathered
The property includes a ravine that was
at one point a gravel pit. The area resembles an amphitheater and the
couple is moving rock and terracing the sides to reclaim the area. The
boggy, swampy wetland is located on a hill between the house and the
woods and the Waldrons have to be careful not to develop it.
Future projects in the works involve
increasing the size of the cutting garden, installing a pond and
finishing off the remaining walls of the ravine.
The bees and the Waldrons co-exist
harmoniously except when Hemken comes over to harvest the honey.
"They do get very agitated and we can’t go outside at that
time," says Waldron. "In fact they attack the house."
But she is very grateful for all of the
honeybees’ efforts in her yard. "I’ve got such an
appreciation for bees," adds Waldron. "They’re such a
wonderful creature. That’s why I’ve always wanted to have them for