The University of Arizona Cooperative Extension (reg)

  About the Journal


  This Issue:
   From Me to You
   Calendar of Events
   Things to Expect & Do
   Children Know Once
            They Grow
   A New Way of
   Computer Corner
   Of Blue Skies and
            Brilliant Sunsets
   Summer Corn:
            A Tempting
   Corny Stuff
   Grilled Corn in
               the Husks
   Going to Bat for Bats
            Desert Trees
   The Prickly Pear:
            Handle with Care!
   Birds in the Garden
   Watering & Plant Care
            Tips for Summer
   Garden-Smart TIPS
   Summers Past Farms
   Word Wise

   Hot Off The Press

  Archived Issues
Master Gardener Journal  

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,
Master Gardener

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 herbs.

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

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
Comments to 4341 E. Broadway Road, Phoenix, AZ 85040,
Voice: (602) 470-8086 ext. 301, Fax (602) 470-8092