Stony Hill Farm Greenhouses: My New Fave Nursery

– Posted in: Acquisitions
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stone lion in chives - Stony Hill Farm Greenhouses

A glance around the parking lot tells you that plants and ornaments are used in clever ways here.

Stony Hill Farm Greenhouses has been in operation for twenty years–why did it take me so long to visit it? Could it be because it is out in the middle of nowhere, about an hour from my home? I can tell you, it is worth the drive. I visited this nursery recently with my local blogger buds Donalyn and Jenn, and I was amazed at the selection of plants and the extent of the display gardens. In the photo above, chives are growing at the edge of the parking lot. Planting them here takes advantage of chives’ natural propensity to seed itself in gravel, making a casual transition between the parking area and the surrounding lawn. That in itself tells me the gardener here knows her plants–knows how they behave. But then to add the lion, half-hidden in the herbs, looking like he is surveying the grounds for likely prey, shows an artistic sensibility that promises lovely discoveries ahead.

Miniature Gardens

Dana Keiser, proprietor and gardener of Stony Hill Farm, creates miniature gardens for sale. I hesitate to call them fairy gardens, as not all of them have fairies. Most, but not all, have accessories that draw you in so that you find yourself imagining what it would be like to sit in the miniature garden before you. Others are just attractive combinations of plants in a pleasing container.

miniature garden planted in a wheelbarrow - Stony Hill Farm in Binghamton, NY

This miniature garden planted in a wheelbarrow draws you into its small scale world. Note the miniature Japanese maple towards the back. (Click photo to enlarge.)

This miniature garden makes you wonder if the homeowner just stepped inside for a moment.

This miniature garden makes you wonder if the homeowner just stepped inside for a moment.

Miniature Japanese maples at Stony Hill Farm in Binghamton, NY

Miniature Japanese maples artfully arranged in containers. These will only get more attractive as the plants fill out.

More Japanese Maples Than I Thought Were Hardy

Dana loves Japanese maples of all sizes, shapes and colors.

Japanese maple leaves on stone wall at Stony Hill Farm in Binghamton, NY

This miniature Japanese maple adorns a stone wall in the display gardens

She has a wide variety in stock and uses them extensively in her display gardens. She considers herself to be Hardiness Zone 4b “because of the wind,” but I am not so sure. Many of the maples she grows would be considered hardy to Zone 6, I believe, and with her altitude she is not likely to be zone 6. But as we discussed during our visit, drainage has a profound effect on cold hardiness. More plants will survive a winter in freely draining soil, because it’s not actually the cold that is killing them, but the moisture rotting the roots during mud season. Her display gardens are built on raised beds composed of a mixture of mushroom compost and composted yard waste. I’m sure they have perfect drainage and yet hold moisture because of the high organic content.

Rare and Unusual Plants

“Rare, variegated, and unusual plants” says her business card. I’ll vouch for that. Here’s a few that caught my eye.

'Bonfire' peach tree at Stony Hill Farm, Binghamton, NY

That gorgeous red-foliage tree? It’s a ‘Bonfire’ peach tree. Yes, it did have peaches on it.

Green Lace primula at Stony Hill Farm Binghamton, NY

Some day I’m coming back for a piece of this ‘Green Lace’ primula.

heucheras at Stony Hill Farm, Binghamton, NY

A few of the splendid heucheras (coral bells) to be found at Stony Hill Farm. That red one is ‘Fire Alarm’.

What Did I Get?

One more thing I like about this place: Dana will dig plants from her display garden for you. No, not all her plants–just the ones she can spare. But it makes me feel a personal connection, akin to the time-honored tradition of passalong plants–even though I am paying for them. And it enables you to acquire something she may not have had enough of to pot up and put on a greenhouse bench. The plants that she dug for me are noted on the list.

‘Midnight Reiter’ hardy geranium (dug)
Primula kisoana pink (dug)
P. kisoana white (dug)
‘Blue Moon’ Phlox divaricata
pink and yellow corydalis (perhaps Corydalis sempervirens?)(dug)
Silver Squill (Ledebouria socialis, a houseplant)
2 hens-and-chicks

Immediately after leaving Stony Hill Farm, I visited a farm and garden center and a big box store. Neither of them had such interesting or such well-cared for plants. Yes, I’ll be going back to Stony Hill.

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About the Author

Kathy Purdy is a colchicum evangelist, converting unsuspecting gardeners into colchicophiles. She would be delighted to speak to your group about colchicums or other gardening topics. Kathy’s been writing since 4th grade, gardening since high school, and blogging since 2002.

. . . the difference between great daffodils and common ones is not so vast as one thinks in the first flush of excitement when one starts being serious about daffodils.

~Henry Mitchell in The Essential Earthman: Henry Mitchell on Gardening

13 Comments… add one

Peter Thomsen June 21, 2013, 8:01 am

Wonderful Post ! I Just Love This Plants, Thank you for sharing your wonderful thoughts with us.

Noemi Bostrom June 20, 2013, 12:39 pm

These miniature gardens are really awesome. I will try to make one. BTW, I also have Japanese maples in my garden and it almost covered half of my stone wall.

Deborah B June 20, 2013, 10:25 am

I’m not especially into miniature gardens and still leery of trying Japanese maples here, but you had me at the Green Lace primula. Wow!

Kathy Purdy June 20, 2013, 12:56 pm

Miniature gardens and Japanese maples are Dana’s specialties, but she has plenty more than that and is worth a spring trip. (She closes in July, which is coming up quickly.) I am leery of trying Japanese maples myself, but one was growing here when I moved in, and seems to be thriving.

Donalyn June 16, 2013, 3:06 pm

It was a very pleasant day. Her display gardens show the touch of someone who loves plants and loves what she does. There is nothing quite like seeing a plant that has been growing in a good spot for a few years to give you a really clear picture of whether it will fit in your own garden. And getting to share it with you and Jenn made it all the more special – maybe next time, we will all get to go!

ruth clausen June 16, 2013, 12:31 pm

Where is it? How about some other nurseries in upstate NY. Will be driving from Toronto next week

Kathy Purdy June 16, 2013, 2:43 pm

Ruth, I linked to the nurseries website, which had directions from several points of the compass. The address is 3801 Brady Hill Rd., Binghamton, NY 13903.

Aaron June 16, 2013, 1:39 am

Beautiful plants all of them, it clearly shows that if you are not making your homes beautiful then lack of space is no excuse because with ideas like these, you can always decorate your home with beautiful plants like mentioned in the blog.

Donna@Gardens Eye View June 15, 2013, 7:17 pm

Kathy one thing I don’t get enough time to do is visit great nurseries and gardens…with retirement I hope to change all that…love this nursery.

superyards June 15, 2013, 4:44 pm

I love these plants so much! Especially that last one!!

Julio Yohe June 14, 2013, 11:31 pm

I love these wonderful plants! I’ve never tried making miniature gardens before. Also, rare and unusual plants are really amazing! Do you have any tips how to raise these wonderful plants? ;-)

Frances June 14, 2013, 5:18 pm

What a find, Kathy! I am sure you will return many times with offerings like that, plur the personal touch of the owner.

Leslie June 14, 2013, 3:35 pm

It looks like a wonderful place!

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