At a Glance
Size: 100 acres
Location: Sergeantsville, New Jersey
Conditions: Full sun; well-drained, fertile soil
Age of the garden: 25 years
When Ruth Ann Mummey and her husband first came to Bellsflower farm in 1995, the 100-acre property was mostly bare fields. “We named it Bellsflower because we could hear the church bells outside,” says Ruth. Now the farm boasts several gardens surrounding the house, a pasture for the couple’s pet Belted Galloway cows, and a small wholesale nursery that specializes in holly (Ilex spp. and cvs., Zones 3–11) and other shrubs. With few backbones to speak of, the property was a challenge for Ruth as she identified and established distinct garden beds. Luckily it had three things going for it: tons of space, ample sun, and rich, fertile soil.
Ruth’s favorite areas are within sight of the house: two beds filled with a mix of ornamental grasses and ‘Limelight’ hydrangea (Hydrangea paniculata ‘Limelight’, Zones 3–8), which Ruth describes as “wonderfully soft” to gaze upon from spring to late fall. Another main attraction on the property is the wonderful array of spring-blooming plants. Along the more formal front garden, a line of crape myrtles (Lagerstroemia spp. and cvs., Zones 6–10), including the varieties ‘Tonto’, ‘Hopi’, and ‘Pink Velour’, offers a gorgeous array of pink blooms in spring and resembles the blooms of flowering cherries (Prunus spp. and cvs., Zones 5–8) elsewhere in the landscape. Another spring focal point, and a Pastels reign supreme in spring. The frothy canopies of several types of flowering trees—including cherries, crabapples (Malus spp. and cvs., Zones 4–8), and dogwoods (Cornus spp. and cvs., Zones 4–9)—add explosions of color throughout the property. favorite plant for Ruth, is moss phlox (Phlox subulata and cvs., Zones 3–9), which grows in ample masses around the property.
Ruth’s advice from her 25 years curating Bellsflower farm? Practice restraint. She says it’s easy to impulse buy but that it’s worth it to learn about a plant before making the purchase to ensure that its needs line up with your own. She says when she began the garden she thought she wanted a more informal English-style garden, but as time went on she found that she enjoyed more formal silhouettes and order. “It’s a lot more restrained now than when we first started,” she says.
Christine Alexander is the digital content manager for Fine Gardening.
Photos: courtesy of Ruth Ann Mummey
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