Garden News

A nice, old-fashioned Holiday Party that was truly fun for all!

Posted on December 17, 2017

Horses got to sleep in this cold wintry day while the rest of us played in the Great Room at the farm! We were welcomed by wreaths in the bay window and beautifully decorated tables overflowing with food – ham, delicious home-made soups, Seth’s magic mac, to name a few – and all kinds of sweet things! The traditional mulled wine totally disappeared (have to make more next year) along with other libations! All the young-at-hearts decorated the horsehead sugar cookies (have to make more next year). Our first-ever White Elephant Gift Exchange with everybody in a huge circle was a resounding success. The three most swapped items were the leopard bench, the socks, and the Darth Vader toaster – such lucky people who got those prizes!

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Both brilliant and muted colors decorate the Farm!

Posted on October 24, 2017

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Carnival Comes to the 30th annual BBQ!

Posted on August 24, 2017

This year, at the annual BBQ, we decided to add a little Carnival and Silent Auction to help raise funds for Academy programs. The games were mostly for the kids, although there were painted faces of all ages, and the Silent Auction was definitely for adults!

As always, the BBQ is a great opportunity to catch up with old friends!

This year, the coveted Golden Fork Award for outstanding volunteer work for the Academy was presented – with great ceremony – to Taryn Zarrillo, see below. Taryn was instrumental in gathering donations for our silent auction this year and writing the many thank you notes. She was also a driving force behind the Ride of the Valkyries, this year’s BBQ entertainment. See the video. Thanks Taryn, and keep the fork polished!

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Lilies start in June with the Asiatics ….

Posted on June 5, 2017

Lilies are one of the favorite flowers at Cricket Hill. It takes a lot to protect them from deer in the open plan of our gardens, but it’s worth all the trouble! We grow them in ground as well as in pots, which makes it easy to swap them out as later varieties come into bloom. Then we can hide the pots to let the foliage ripen and feed the bulbs for next year, the ugly stage of lilies – out of sight!

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April Gardens foretell big May bloom with Serviceberry and Daffodils!

Posted on April 24, 2017

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Wonderful color and form even when the leaves fall!

Posted on November 27, 2016

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Fall colors were beautiful, muted by warmth and dryness…

Posted on October 1, 2016

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Our Summer Garden in glorious color!

Posted on July 4, 2016

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Old-fashioned Egg Hunt welcomes Spring!

Posted on March 26, 2016

The eggs were everywhere – in the grass, in the trees, around the outdoor arena and round pen – everywhere! Each egg had treats nestled inside, and several golden rabbits were found.

Dads and Moms were in the swing of it, too!

Egg-and-spoon races were next, with lots of cheering and laughing. The weather really cooperated, and some were down to shirtsleeves!



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Witch Hazels Show Off

Posted on March 1, 2016

The genus Hamamelis, multi-stemmed native shrub Witch Hazel, grows in a range of soils at the wood’s edge and flowers in full and partial sun. Four species – japonica, mollis, vernalis, and virginiana – are available in the trade along with a raft of japonica x mollis hybrids. Cricket Hill has two H. vernalis specimens and a half dozen of these ‘intermedia’ hybrids, which are considered to be the best all-around performers in the garden. Four are shown below.

web-MM-Hxintermedia-Arnold- web-Arb-Hxintermedia-Jelena web-house-Hxintermedia-Prim web-Bird-Hxintermedia-Sunbu

Witch Hazel is very adaptable to soil pH, has a sweet if gentle fragrance, and can have dramatic fall foliage ranging from bright yellow through orange to dark red. This was a particularly good bloom year, flowering over a 6 week period February through April. If you keep alert, you may see this very hardy shrub growing naturally around the Farm, a few at the roadside near Kira’s drive!

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Our one and only snowstorm…. or so we thought!

Posted on February 9, 2016

web-Mare-barn-crop-fields-s web-Crab-branch-snow-2-9-16 web-Snow-chameacyparis-2-9-

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Shelly Francis Clinic Oct 10-11, 2015

Posted on October 11, 2015

Shelly was back at Cricket Hill for her third time this year.  It may be a little while before Shelly returns as she has a heavy competition schedule planned for the upcoming season and 2016 Olympic Team selection. She is on the short list with two horses, Doktor and Danilo, both trained by Shelly from youngsters. Shelly remains one of the few U.S. international riders who compete on horses they have trained themselves, yielding a training and instruction approach which is understandable to both the horse and the rider.

Riders enjoyed another great Saturday evening to commemorate not only the great rides, but also the abundant apple harvest! Click here for the the menu and story of the Wolf River Apple!


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Shelly Francis Buffet Features Garden Delectibles!

Posted on November 11, 2013

Shelly Menu_11-9-13Cricket Hill hosted a two-day clinic with international dressage rider and trainer Shelly Francis.  Saturday night dinner at Sue and Art’s home featured 19 different dishes, from appetizers to desserts, developed from the produce of the gardens at Cricket Hill.

The Cricket Hill preparations included fruits, vegetables, herbs of all types grown organically on the farm. There were pickles, chutneys, and sauces of all types. Art contributed the pheasant for pheasant sausage! Decorations were made with flowers from the cutting garden dried in the Summer Kitchen. The food was prepared by Melanie Melius, Flowering Gardens, who also helps Sue with the plantings.

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Annual Barbecue Attendees enjoy lush fall gardens

Posted on August 30, 2013

Kristin Emymeadow viewWe were actually happy to have an overcast day for the annual barbecue, riding academy entertainment and tour of the gardens – the temperature was just right! The gardens, lush from all the rain earlier in the season, still showed the summer bloomers overlapping the classic fall asters, anemones, chrysanthemums and grasses.

new vedge bed still producingIt was a terrific year for fruit production: apples, two kinds of pears, Cornus mas, quince just ripening – and some wonderful jams, jellies, chutneys and preserves were put away. And veggies were turned into pickles, barbecue and chili sauces, stewed and dried tomatoes. Garlic and shallots were already hanging in the summer kitchen along with all the flowers drying. These will see us right through until spring!

Prope DietterBrad cooks while Anna, Steven, John look onrefreshments after the tour

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Cricket Hill opens August 17 for the Garden Conservancy Tour

Posted on August 17, 2013

dragonwing begoniaOver 250 people strolled about the farm during this year’s Open Days’ tour of the Gardens at Cricket Hill, our largest group ever. Everything looked beautiful, and visitors were filled with questions and compliments! Melanie Melius was Garden Host as Sue was away at a horse show. We had many inquiries about plants for sale, especially those in bloom or about to come into bloom. As we have continually planned for four-season interest in the garden, there is always something going on. Plant sales benefit the Academy’s schoolmaster Support and Scholarship Programs, so maybe next year, we’ll have more plants potted up!


toward arboretum 8/13flowers flow from the terrace to the fieldsview from terrace 8/13


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Posted on May 6, 2008

Forsythia ‘Golden Times’One way or the other, with a detour through heat, another through frost, spring has definitely made it to Cricket Hill.

Thousands of daffodils, hundreds of tulips – a few with deer-provided flat-top haircuts! – and all the other bulbs join the Forsythia. This one has golden variegated leaves…so once it starts blooming, it looks like it’s blooming all season! Aptly named “Golden Times”.

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ICE BEAUTY at Cricket Hill

Posted on January 11, 2008

Winter provides many unexpected delights for the Garden-Watcher! A unique combination of precipitation, temperature change and light gave us some breathtaking glimpses of fairyland.

Viburnum IceChuckery IceClematis tangutica IceBarberry Ice

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FROST – Fall’s First

Posted on October 29, 2007

frosted dahliasThe gardens were still going strong until the first frost hit October 29. This is about 6 weeks later than “the way it used to be”, and a tangible sign we deserve the upgrade from 5 to 6 of our Hardiness Zone, i.e. it’s warmer. Taking advantage of this, we are adding to the late season display in the Gardens at Cricket Hill Farm… might as well enjoy it! Visitors to the farm next year will see the results of this year’s transplants and addition to stock of fall bloomers.

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