Garden Photo of the Day

The gardens at the Inn at Honey Run in Ohio

Photos of the native short grass meadow I hand broadcast as an alternative to mowing the hillside. The mix is composed of 3 native short grass species and 19 wildflower/forb species. 

Today’s photos are from Ashley Gerber in Millersburg, Ohio. She says, “These are some summer shots of our gardens at the Inn at Honey Run. Nestled in the rolling hills of Amish country, our 50-acre property includes two cottages, 12 suites built into the hillside (the Honeycombs), and a main lodge of 25 suites, conference room, and Tarragon restaurant.

Photos of the native short grass meadow I hand broadcast as an alternative to mowing the hillside. The mix is composed of 3 native short grass species and 19 wildflower/forb species. Photo/Illustration: All photos courtesy of Ashley Gerber

“Last summer was my third summer working at the inn. I do all of the landscape design, installation, maintenance, and mowing. I spent my first year inventorying, rejuvenation pruning, cleaning out beds, and amending because little had been done for the past 5-7 years.

Rudbeckia hirta 

“A couple of summers ago we began planting and renovating walks and beds. There is still a lot of work to do, and visions/dreams/designs I have yet to implement. GPOD provides me with great inspiration and plant combination ideas. I’m grateful to those who share their gardens and I hope you enjoy the pictures provided!

The entrance to the Honeycombs. The border was planted in the summer of 2012. 

“The photos are a combination of containers, borders, plant combinations, wildlife, and the native short grass meadow I seeded in front of the Honeycomb units. Enjoy!”

So gorgeous, Ashley! I love your gardening efforts and I am FASCINATED by the Honeycombs…. **visit the Inn’s website HERE**

Entrance to Honeycombs: Panicum ‘Northwind’, Physocarpus ‘Summer Wine’, Russian sage, black-eyed susan, and a mix of zinnia grown from seed 

It’s almost SPRING, people! I know you’re going through your photos from last year, planning what you’ll do differently this year. Send some of those photos in to me! [email protected]

A swallowtail on Liatris spicata. The Honeycombs are planted with a variety of butterfly favorites for guests to enjoy viewing from their own private patios. 
The water feature along the entry walk to the main lodge is home to many frogs! 
Planter on dining deck composed of sweet potato vine, heliotrope, lantana, and Torenia ‘Grape-O-Licious’ 
Another dining deck planter with Persian shield, impatiens, Torenia ‘Grape-O-Licious’, and sweet potato vine 
Hanging basket combo of fan flower (Scaevola) and Calibrachoa ‘Grapefruit’ 
A large family of turkeys I saw all over the property last summer. This particular morning they were meandering around the Honeycombs. 

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  1. greengenes 03/12/2014

    how interesting this morning! A simply wonderful place to be at! What a job to have, too. You are doing a great job there, Ashley. With these pictures it seems like I can smell the warmth of the day and relax. I really enjoy the view in the dining room as you savor the great food! Thanks!

  2. User avater
    Tim_Zone_Denial_Vojt 03/12/2014

    Nicely done. I love the meadow. And so close to home! Holmes county is so beautiful.

  3. User avater
    meander_michaele 03/12/2014

    Hi, Ashley, looks like your employers found a real gem in you. I'm sure your enthusiasm for nature and gardening is contagious and any guests you interact with must appreciate the joy you bring to your work. Your container combinations are a visual treat as are the planting beds. It really does add a lot to the get-away experience (even if it's only on a subconscious level) to be surrounded by nature's beauty. Nice job!

  4. wGardens 03/12/2014

    How fascinating is this!?!?!? Oh, how interesting. I suspect that since you've been there, repeat customers have mounted! This is really beautiful. You have done a marvelous job. I especially like your water feature photo and the plantings outside the honeycombs are wonderful. A great place to stay, indeed!

  5. JonMoss 03/12/2014

    Hi Ashley,

    I admire your meadow making skills especially. Can you tell us more about the site before you began your efforts, how you prep'ed it and some seed mix details?

  6. pattyspencer 03/12/2014

    Lovely place! And I echo Tim_Zone_Denial - this is very close to home. I belong to a group that a few of the ladies go up to Holmes County every year - I will recommend this place to them.

  7. tractor1 03/12/2014

    I visited the Honey Run web site and it looks quite elegant. Ashley, do you maintain the entire 50 acres yourself, you must have a few helpers. The grounds look lovely and I especially like that wildflower meadow. You say you planted it so you'd not need to mow but I'd suggest to keep it healthy to mow it once at the end of summer beginning of fall. Mow high (~8") so as not to harm the small critters living there. Use mulching blades, this will disperse the seeds and at the same time cover them with fine mulch that will decay and feed the plants. If mowed at the end of summer by mid fall it should be a field of flowers again. If left unmown it won't be three years that there'll be small trees and woody brush moved in, and within ten years the forest will become established and the wildflower meadow will disappear, espeacially since it's a high slope it's not really a meadow, a real meadow is bottom land that stays wet even in the heat of summer. Most farmers would use that slope as a hay field, it would be cut (hayed) once or twice a season. It would be nice to see some aerial views of those 50 acres. Thank you for this submission, I find it very interesting.

  8. User avater
    HelloFromMD 03/12/2014

    Hi Ashley,

    Your short grass meadow is fantastic. Our rural area is turning into developments with 5 acre lots all planted in lawns. Or dead zones in my opinon. This meadow is so much more beautiful and supports life! Way to go!
    Am loving that Rudbeckia hirta. Is that a named selection or a happy accident?

  9. GrannyMay 03/12/2014

    I always like to see alternative ways of managing large open areas. Love the mix of flowers and native short grass in the meadow! It would be interesting to see it over a number of years to see how it develops. You have done a great job with the border plantings as well, Ashley - definitely a lovely, peaceful place to stay! And how nice to see the bird-feeders outside each of the honeycomb units.

  10. greengenes 03/12/2014

    This is to grannymay: Iam greengenes from wa. state. You wanted to know about those big red banana plants if they made it or not through the winter..well I was cleaning out the greenhouse yesterday and they didn't make it. They became a pile of mush 5 inches down in the pot... So they will be missed. Just thought I would let you know!

  11. GrannyCC 03/12/2014

    What a fascinating place to work. It looks like it is built into the hillside or bank. I gather those are grass roofs. Love the wildflower meadow and all the beautiful baskets.

  12. wildthyme 03/12/2014

    Ashley, what a great job you have! In addition to looking at your photos I went to the inn's website and found such wonderful links and sites. I loved the one on the herb spiral and I plan to include it in our "Take a look at . . . " feature in our next garden club newsletter! Thanks!

  13. Yeddi 03/12/2014

    I belong to a garden club in Powell, Ohio - so not far from Holmes County. The Inn will definitely be a feature in our newsletter, too. And I strongly suspect a field trip.

    Thank you for posting all the beautiful photographs, Ashley. I love natural plantings and enhancing what the land dictates. Very well done.
    Thank you, too, to Tractor1 - am always looking for good advice for my own wildflower patch - now in it's 7th year the goldenrod has taken over! Great for the bees, though - they came and lived in my basement last year...........

  14. GrannyMay 03/12/2014

    To Greengenes - thanks so much for remembering to let me know about the fate of your red banana plants. That's too bad! They were on my far-too-long list of things to try this year. But I suppose if they weren't too expensive, one could still use them as annuals. They were lovely!

    I once tried a strip of native low grasses mixed with wildflowers at the edge of my driveway. The first year it was lovely. I didn't mow it and the short grass seeded itself throughout my flower borders and my rock-garden, becoming a very nasty and tough weed to remove. And in a couple of years the showy flowers were crowded out by buttercups and other not-so nice things. Maybe, if I had mowed it, as Tractor1 suggests, it might have worked better for me.

  15. annek 03/12/2014

    The wildflower meadow is such a peaceful and serene vista. What fun for you to oversee the renovation of such a large area. Do you have to irrigate the meadow or is there enough rainfall each year? I would love to hear more about your work improving the meadow

    Great planter combinations and color, too. Sounds like you found the perfect job for yourself. Congrats!

  16. ancientgardener 03/12/2014

    You have made everything lovely and I hope your flower/meadow remains so beautiful. I expect tractor1's advice will be helpful. I have a question. How is lighting provided in the Honeycombs? Certainly an interesting concept, but I can't come up with a complete picture. What am I missing or aren't they meant for habitation? I am so curious.

  17. grannieannie1 03/12/2014

    What a unique inn; love the idea of honeycombs and the patios shown on the inn's page.

    I'd heard of short grass but never really knew what it looked like. It makes a beautiful hillside with wildflowers.

  18. janeeliz 03/13/2014

    What an interesting and unique place you are in and creating! Lovely work you are doing. That water feature is exceptional. All very special . Thanks for sharing it. Hope to see more of it.

  19. janetsfolly 03/13/2014

    Oh, what a day to be late to the party! I've driven by the entrance to this inn many times and been curious but not enough to delay my journey to wherever I was hurrying. Now I really must investigate! Ashley, you've done a lovely job here! Be seeing you SOON!

    Interesting to see how many of the regulars here are from the Buckeye state!

  20. flowerladydi 03/13/2014

    Good morning Ashley,,,, lost power yesterday due to the snow storm,,, so just saw this now!!! I LOVE it! What an interesting place!,,,, the meadow is so calming,,,,just the right mix of wild flowers,,,, and I am sure in time, it will only become even greater! Love the water feature area along the entry walk,, looks almost tropical,,,, so a great mix of themes for interest! Your plantings on the honeycombs is perfect! What a great job you must have,, and they are soooo lucky to have you,,, as you have created some great things there! Do you have a crew to assist you?,,,,Love to hear more!!! Thanks!

  21. celiahoneysuckle 03/13/2014

    Hi Ashley, I'm the gardener and grounds person at a historic site, so I know the work involved, and also on a tight budget which can be quite challenging. Did you create the pond? It's all very nice.

  22. agerber 03/14/2014

    Thank you all for your kind comments and inquiries. I was off Wednesday and missed the post!
    It seems the wildflower hillside has sparked quite a few questions!
    Before I seeded it this way it was simply a ¼ acre hill that was tricky to mow. It seemed seeding it with a mix like this would be a great alternative- increase bio diversity, reduce mowing and all other high inputs often associated with the maintenance of turf, and allow guests to enjoy the plants, movement, birds, and butterflies from their honeycomb patios or while walking by. So I contacted and consulted with Ohio Prairie Nursery and purchased the seed mix from them.
    Because of the size of the site, I chose to use herbicide to rid of the lawn. It took two to three applications the summer of 2012 and then I hand broadcast the seed in the fall. The freeze/thaw during the winter season is said to help work the seed into the ground. The seed was mixed with a cover crop of winter rye (Secale cereal). The photos I sent are the first year of growth. This typically takes three years to establish.
    I just had the hillside mowed last week. I chose to leave the dried plant material up for winter with the idea it will provide winter cover and food source for many birds and insects. I will gladly send updated photos as this project progresses. It is a learning experience for me, but I’m gladly trying it to replace as HelloFromMD called it, “dead zones”. It requires no irrigation, chemical inputs, or maintenance other than occasional weeding and an annual mowing in spring or fall. Burning every 3-5 years is recommended, but mowing is an alternative if burning isn’t a possibility.
    To address a few other questions:
    I do not have a crew that assists me
    The water feature was installed the summer before I began working at the inn
    The rudbeckia is a happy accident or perhaps I have misidentified?! But there is no other rudbeckia listed on the seed mix list…

    Thanks again everyone!

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