Creating a wildlife haven one plant at a time

Friday, June 8, 2012

Cows & Gardens Equals Whimsical Inspiration

On a recent trip to Chapel Hill we spent a fun filled day at Fearrington Village, a community on a 1,200 acre historic farm that is filled with inspiration and whimsy.

The mascot of the village are the Belted Galloway cows, affectionately called Oreo cows. Their curly coats are just begging to be touched.


Belties are beef cattle native to Scotland. Six cows were brought from Virgina to Fearrington in the 1980s. There are now more than 30 cows grazing at the farm to "greet" village guests. When we visited there was much more eating than greeting. In fact, I couldn't get them to look up at the camera at all. And they wouldn't wander close enough to the fence for my fingers to touch those curls. Maybe they have a little Scottish in them after all.


Fearrington Village is a community (with 2,000 residents according to their website) modeled after English hamlets where people would gather at the village center, do some shopping and lunch with friends while enjoying the surrounding gardens. The complex offers several eateries, a (5 diamond) inn, spa and shops including an independent bookshop and a gift store with whimsical accessories for the home and garden.


The former barn has been converted to a wedding venue which was featured in Martha Stewart Weddings magazine. My youngest sister had a country wedding in an old barn so these type of venues always bring back special memories for me.


It looked like there had been a wedding the day before since there were these gorgeous arrangements lining the walkways. Just dreamy!


As we approached the barn we saw  barn swallows busily flying in and out of the entrance. And, they weren't deterred by the visitors. They went about their business flying in and out of the barn searching for food. Makes you wonder how a nervous bride would feel with birds darting in and out while the bride and groom exchange their vows. No pooping on the head allowed!


The swallows were busy feeding their very hungry babies. Nests filled every nook and cranny of the barn roof. I was amazed how many nests there were.


As we continued our walk around the village I was so impressed with the English style gardens. The plants  were chosen with pollinators in mind and include the full spectrum of annuals, bulbs, perennials, shrubs and trees.


There is a staff of 7 who work on the 60 garden beds to provide color and interest all year long. All the gardens are maintained using organic methods! Although we didn't visit them, there are several bee hives on the grounds that are producing honey that is being used in the restaurants.


The 70 square foot white garden is the most formally designed garden on the grounds and is another wedding venue at the village. The focus of the garden is all things white and is filled with fragrant perennials and bulbs including white lantana, moonvine, zinnia, iris and gladiola.



The symmetrical beds are anchored by this whimsical fountain which provides some fluidity to the formal setting.


Sod walkways soften the look and divide the beds. A white 3-sided pergola encloses the garden with the inn sitting at the top of the square.


Inspiration can be found throughout the village like this brilliant use of a whiskey barrel.


Isn't this clever! I love the rustic look of whiskey barrels and they are large enough to house a lot of hose.


Whimsical touches are everywhere...Be sure to look up


and down...



The garden beds throughout the village were all very impressive. This one was a bit more remote and less manicured than others around the village center. The pollinators certainly appreciated this more care free approach since this garden was filled with bees, butterflies and even a hummingbird moth.



The two plants that impressed me the most was this this passion vine and some thistle, yes that right, thistle. The passion vine was full of their exotic blooms. A little garden envy...mine isn't this big or full of blooms. My caterpillars eat it to the ground before it even gets close. Maybe this is what it will look like in 10 years.


This thistle was huge! A good 6 feet tall.


I was very curious about this thistle because it was planted intentionally and that isn't something you see everyday. I emailed Fearrington Village upon my return to Georgia and they promptly replied that this is Cardoon Thistle (Cynara cardunculus) often referred to as artichoke thistle. Apparently the unopened blooms can be eaten much like an artichoke.


These blooms where difficult to photograph. To get a good shot I really needed to stand on a ladder so this is the best I could get. Cardoon is a member of the Asteraceae (aster) family and is native to the Mediterranean. The bees were all over them. They would look beautiful in a dried flower arrangement, don't you think?

When traveling it is always a joy to come upon beautiful gardens and bring some inspiration home to mine. I found lots of it here and will certainly go back to explore more on my next visit to Chapel Hill.

Have a great weekend! ~ Karin

18 comments:

  1. It's always so nice to find inspiration in other gardens. We've been doing some garden hopping lately and it's been refreshing to see so many clever ways people have enhanced their gardens. It looks like you are getting a nice start to your summer!

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  2. Great post! I've been to Fearrington Village several times but never bothered to learn about its history or the concept behind the gardens. To me, the cows look like they have white blankets draped over them and I always wonder how they survive the summer because they have such thick coats. That whiskey barrel idea is clever...

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  3. Great post! I've been to Fearrington Village several times but never bothered to learn about its history or the concept behind the gardens. To me, the cows look like they have white blankets draped over them and I always wonder how they survive the summer because they have such thick coats. That whiskey barrel idea is clever...

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  4. What an interesting place to visit..Love the pigs and the nest is so precious...beautiful gardens too..but the barn would be such a romantic place to have a wedding I think..I would love that..Michelle

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  5. Love those cows! And all your pictures. Wonderful detail. Thanks for the visit. (Well, I feel as if I were there.)

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  6. Woolley cows and whimsy... my favourite things ;-) I love the old barn and can imagine both beautiful weddings and magical christmas parties in there!

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  7. What a great trip. I love the use of the whisky barrels for hoses as well. The perfect amount of space to roll up those hoses and get them out of the way. As soon as I saw those cows I thought, I'd love to pet one they look so soft. Apparently I'm not the only one!

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  8. I love those Oreo Cows! And what a charming village to visit. The passion vines are gorgeous. I have been on two garden tours in the past week, and now my head is brimming with ideas for my garden!

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  9. Those cows are too cute and what a wonderful spot...the barn is definitely a spot I would want to explore!

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  10. Great photos. The cows are really interesting. Haven't seen any like that. Wonder if that will make others look to have them also.

    Cher Sunray Gardens

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  11. This looks like a Beth and Cherry trip we would love this fabulous place. Looks like ya'll had a wonderful time.
    Happy weekend hugs, Cherry

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  12. The cows are too cute. I love the idea of a one color themed garden. I wish I had the space for something like that. Looks like you had a great time!

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  13. I too think these cows are the cutest. I like those fuzzy coats., they do look like you would want to pet them. I would have enjoyed this place, so pretty and so much to explore. I can see you had a great time, all that ambiance and countryside.

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  14. What a wonderful place! I LOVE the geranium filled planter and all the other fun touches. A plant with flowers similar to a thistle but about 4 feet smaller is Centaurea dealbata, aka Persian Cornflower. I grow it in my garden and the finches love it. They land on the stalks and pull the seeds from the heads after they've bloomed. It would do well for you, too. :o)

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  15. The cows remind me of our Holsteins--except the black and white is in stripes instead of spots! What an excellent use for a whiskey barrel--and the other whimsical touches are creative, too. Thanks for sharing your trip highlights!

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  16. The cows remind me of our Holsteins--except the black and white is in stripes instead of spots! What an excellent use for a whiskey barrel--and the other whimsical touches are creative, too. Thanks for sharing your trip highlights!

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  17. Karin, I was just there!! Freda and I ate lunch there in May when I drove up to Virginia. Great posting!

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    1. Isn't it a great place! I will definitely go back and explore more. I would love to see it in the fall.

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