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Summers Past Farms
Hot Off The Press
T H E T R A V E L I N G G A R D E N E R
Summers Past Farms
by Linda A. Guy,
Summer has come and the charms of San Diego are nudging more persistently-cooler
climes, surf and shoreline, cloud cover, and sweatshirts in the evenings. Or
perhaps it's the zoo, Shamu, or Balboa Park that come to mind.
Although rural attractions are seldom associated with this coastal city, just a
few miles to the east there is an incredible opportunity to relax and indulge
the senses. For in the San Diego foothills is hidden a most colorful and
charming countryside retreat, Summers Past Farms.
This is written from a distance of some four summers past, when I first
discovered this enchantingly rustic collection of country stores and barn, theme
gardens, fields of herbs and flowers, water features, and pets-at-large. While
my recollections may be a bit hazy I am quite clear on my exceedingly reluctant
departure following a full morning there-not because it meant returning to
Phoenix, but because I was simply captivated! Quite happily will I soon make a
return visit to take in such recent additions as the lavender field with its
Provence-style facade of fountains, courtyard and a Grand All' of arches in the
style of Monet.
It was suggested that a late spring visit shows the farm at its fragrant and
colorful best. Sweet Pea Day was in late April while the superb morning glories
were just featured in Sunset Magazine. Perhaps this is true, but I knew no
disappointment during a mid-July excursion. At the time, the many outdoor
offerings included an aromatic, octagonal-design herb plot, a Shakespeare
Garden, an area for children's plantings, a Garden of Delights which led to the
Wedding Arbor, a cutting garden, green houses and the obligatory potager (French
for a kitchen garden). Then, beyond, are the fields of everlasting flowers and
A large post-and-timber barn is home to thousands of dried herbs and blooms
suspended from the rafters, as well as books, swags, unique floral offerings and
aromatherapy products. Crafting classes are held in the bright loft area, from
which you can gaze onto the colorful fields while hand selecting your materials
from the beams. The nursery specializes in herbs and fragrant plants with a
growing collection of perennials, all available for purchase.
Equally impressive is Ye Old Soap Shoppe and Factory, purveyors of very fine
vegetable-based soaps as well as bath and skin care products. The adventurous
can purchase soap-making kits, cutters, molds and other supplies. You can
always return for one of the many soap-making classes offered.
A fairly large event area permits special festivals year round. Summer's
programs begin with the Fairy Festival on June 7. Bring your gauze, wings and
other regalia to participate in the Fairy Fashion Parade. Prizes will be
awarded to the best wee garden, that patch considered most alluring to the
farm's pixies. You can pretend you are in the fields of Provence on June 21,
when the many varieties, smells, colors and uses of lavender are featured.
Visitors are encouraged to dress in shades of purple then. Geranium Day is
celebrated July 12, when the nursery will be filled with an array of varieties,
and staff will be on hand to discuss uses and cultivation of these excellent
plants. August 16 brings the Summer Salsa Competition. You don't have to share
your recipe, but you must be registered a week in advance to compete.
Don't forget a picnic blanket. Gourmet box-style lunches are generally
available on these festival days. Light refreshments are offered at the
Espresso/Snack Bar. A hat and water are recommended, as it's often warmer in
the highlands than in San Diego proper.
If your plans don't permit a visit to the farm, you can check out the products
of the Ye Old Soap Shoppe at its sister outlet of the same name in Old Town San
Diego, at the corner of Harney Street and San Diego Avenue.
There is no charge to visit Summers Past Farms, open Wednesdays through Sundays.
From San Diego, travel east on I-8, exit Harbison Canyon/Dunbar Lane ramp.
This is about 30 minutes from downtown. For more information call 619.390.9371,
or take a virtual tour of the grounds at http://www.summerspastfarms.com
It's a perfect way to eke out just one more delightful day of vacation before
halfheartedly returning to Valley's heat.
Summers Past Farms
15602 Old Highway 80
Flinn Springs, CA 92021
Ye Old Soap Shoppe
Photos courtesy of Summers Past Farms
Maricopa County Master Gardener Volunteer Information
Last Updated May 28, 2003
Author: Lucy K. Bradley, Extension Agent Urban Horticulture, University of Arizona Cooperative Extension, Maricopa County
© 1997 The University of Arizona, College of Agriculture and Life Sciences, Cooperative Extension in Maricopa County
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