Gazebos & Garden Festivals

Notice the gazebo at the top of this header page? It's history as of today. George and I built it probably 17 years ago. Actually he built it, I just gathered the cedar saplings. Two weddings had been planned there, both rained out. Over time it has rotted away and was only held up by an Asian bittersweet, silver lace vine and antique thornless rose from a mansion south of the Mason-Dixon line. Shown here is some of the destruction, or, progress. That's Paul Battle, our very kind WWOOFer from N. Carolina on the left, and George Hudson, resident builder, on the right. You'll likely not see a picture of George from the front, he manages to hide his face and won't pose for a photo. They're just starting to tear the old structure down.

Paul hauled away the materials as it was cut up. He'd earlier cut back the rose, bittersweet and other vines so they wouldn't be trampled by the work. An earlier intern, Peter, who came from Hungary a few years back, built the stone floor in the gazebo. It has little hand made ceramic herb labels between the rocks in the concrete. Peter spent days laying the rock and concreting them together as one of his summer's projects.

The gazebo went up soon after I wrote the Making Bentwood Trellises, Gates, Fences & Arbors book. After the book came out there were several magazines here doing stories on bentwood projects and I think the garden appeared in just about every garden magazine in the next few years. The gazebo figured prominently in the photos and we got lots of requests for plans for the gazebo (which wasn't in the book, and still is not). What I always warned people about was, it took lots, lots more materials to build with than most people can find available. It was built out of native cedar (Juniperus virginiana). Speaking of which, with all of our rains the past ten days, the cedar apples are blooming. They appear as big, orange globs of jelly hanging on the cedar trees. Up close you see they have structure and shape, and even slight beauty (click to enlarge the photo). They are the alternate host of the cedar apple rust that affects apple crops, producing spotting and "rust" on the apples.

The Baker Creek Seed Spring Festival was WET. Too bad it had to rain so much, before and during the festival. Even with the rains, several thousand people came anyway. Vendors had wet feet, visitors were soaked, but for the most part, people were in good spirits and buying plants and seed. The line inside the seed store stretched for an hour or more to pay for the seed. Bakerville is experiencing growing pains. It's amazing to see what this young man, Jeremiath Gettle, has accomplished in just 1o years, with help from his community and family. But it is his vision. Starting at age 17, ten years ago, Jere began packaging seed in his bedroom and mailing them out to a small customer base. In that short time his business has grown to be an increasing threat on some of the larger, established seed companies. He has a great dedication to heirloom seed. Watch a video of him describing what he does here. And you can also watch some of the festival here.

Selling only heirloom seed, from plants you can save your own seed from year to year, Jere has grown his business to shipping thousands of seed orders a day. He's built a town square in his front yard to look like an old-time Ozarks town, complete with seed store, apothecary, herb garden, stone oven bakery, restaurant and more. There are several buildings around the new "old" town where musicians play during the festival. A large speaker's building holds a couple of hundred people and lectures go on all day a variety of gardening subjects. This year there were 3 small stages for musicians and so you found music being played everywhere you went.

Large tents housed vendors and many vendors brought their own tents. It's my favorite place to find plants and seed in the springtime and we shopped in spite of the rain. One of my favorite bands played 6 times over the two day event. My friend, Kathryn Compton and her Checkered Past Band (you can download their music or listen on this link) were in the rooms next to us in the motel in Seymour, MO the night before so we were treated to hearing them practice, then hearing the performances the following day, too. Our friends, David & Donna, from Fayetteville, AR came and we had a short but great visit. It was their first time to attend the Festival and we may be able to get them back in good weather for the Fall Festival. Baker Creek's festivals are some of the most diverse gatherings of anywhere I know of in the Ozarks. Our friends, Rich and Becky, from Long Island, NY, by way of Springfield, MO, said they were totally amazed to see such complete diversity in the Ozarks.

I chose not to take pictures of the parking lot with hundreds of cars stuck in the mud, nor the line that stretched a mile and took 45 minutes or longer just to get to the gate to the parking lot. People were wet and miserable, parking volunteers were working hard directing, helping, driving tractors to pull stuck vehicles. Eventually they closed the parking lots completely because the newly built and graveled roads just sunk into the mud. Everyone felt bad for the Baker Creek folks who had worked so hard to put together a wonderful festival and who had to be disappointed at the continuous rains. But in spite of the little inconveniences, it was a great festival and grows bigger every year. I always look forward to going, for the music, the fun, the plants, seeing friends, sometimes speaking and always having a good time.

When the rains let up, Paul and I will get more garden planted. Yesterday we planted about 2 dozen heirloom tomatoes, Paul planted Chinese red noodle beans, my favorite yard long beans from Baker Creek Seed as well as planting several medicinal plants and herbs. Finally, after a mild but seemingly long winter, it's garden time!

No comments: