What's the story with Well-Sweep?

ellenr22 - NJ - Zone 6b/7aJune 2, 2005

I visted there last August, with very high expectations. I was extremely disappointed in the display gardens which were practically non-existent except for a few scraggly plants.

Someone suggested that was too late in the season, but at the same time my own herbs were flourishing in their prime.

This year, a fellow gardener went there a couple of weeks ago, and had a similar outlook. Told me not to waste the trip.

What's the deal? People continue to rave about them. I'm not referring to their supply and selection of herbs. It may well be terrific. I have also been told that it is worth the trip to see their gardens, this does not seem to be the case.


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Well that's a disappointment. I had thought about making a trip up there as an adventure day with the kid. I might still if I find a steam engine attraction up that way. But after all that I had heard about WS, I was looking forward to it.

Has anyone gone this year?


    Bookmark   June 2, 2005 at 7:07PM
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I was there this year and so far the gardens were only ok. The selection of plants was nice though. I still miss NJBG - nothing beats that for price and selection.

Sheila - there's a train you can take your kids on in Flemington. Not that close to Well-Sweep, a little hokey, but my kids love it.


    Bookmark   June 2, 2005 at 10:55PM
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Loretta NJ Z6

On Saturday, June 4th, they are having an open house day with tours at 11:30 and 3:15 and lectures on the half hour between 9:30 and 11:30 and repeating again at 1:00. They will have their largest selection of herbs for the season on this day and you can bring a picnic lunch.

Perhaps they had a deer problem. Last year was the first time I went on recommendation from here and I liked it very much. I went back a couple more times. The atmosphere is like a little farm. It's a peaceful, charming, picturesque place to be, to muddle through a collection of plants and see what I might find. That is why I go here. Not really just to see their gardens. I noticed some areas of the display garden weren't doing well too, mostly on the lefthand side of the parkinglot but there was a variety of plants blooming and healthy when I went. And I didn't know I could go into the gardens behind the greenhouses til this year. That is where their lavenders grow.

Last year I brought my kids. They got to feed the chickens for the price of a bag of feed and were invited by one of the owners to see some of the baby chicks inside the coups. There are a few pathways on the property and they enjoyed exploring them.

    Bookmark   June 3, 2005 at 4:18AM
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#1. Someone here should have warned you that August (even
July) is the WORST time to visit Well-Sweep; they have the
biggest plant selection in late April/May and look their
best in May/June. Come to think of it, MOST nurseries look pretty tired in August!
#2. It's a simple place, a small family-run farm in the
mountains, but definitely NOT Longwood Gardens. . .
#3. The major reason I know most gardeners rave about
Well-Sweep is due to their extensive catalog (be sure to
order one or pick one up) with a diversity that's astonishing for a place this size - and the plants are healthy and VERY reasonably priced. On my annual visit each
May, I swear I'm just going to browse and enjoy the
atmosphere, but rarely escape without dropping big bucks.

So the story with Well-Sweep is that it's a simple,
low-key alternative to the chaos at Home Depot, Lowe's
and other mass-market nurseries, and the PLANTS, the
main reason to be there, are excellent.

In all fairness, I, too, have visited places that were
hyped like crazy, and then been disappointed when they didn't live up to wild expectations. . .C'est la vie. . .

    Bookmark   June 3, 2005 at 10:50PM
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Hi Ellen,
It's near Flemington, eh? Home of the little outlet mall...

Yes, I remember that train ride of infamy. It should have been the perfect outing. My husband loves shopping especially at outlet malls. My little boy hates shopping but loves, no LOVES trains. What could have been better but an outlet mall with a restored antique train?

We purchased tickets with my son absolutely enthralled by every detail of that train. I even got the play money for their railway theme of a staged robbery. The aged wooden interiors had a patina you just don't see on the now departed Red Robin subway cars or for that matter any of the NYC subways. Some of the seats had scrolled metal details. Some had leather upholstery. He was so taken with the train, he didn't notice the other kids, the bumbling sheriff, his dad with the candy, and barely took notice of the conductor.

He was so excited getting to pick which seat for the ride. Window seat for him of course. And off we went. The train chugged along past the car dealerships and farms. He was so happy. And then,

Across a field, there was a band of scruffy looking desperados on horseback. No kidding, the horses looked a whole lot cleaner than the riders. As they got closer, the other kids were excited. Some of the more alert youngsters were already trying to get the Barney Fife of a Sheriff to wake up. My little boy took no notice until the train slowed down. He got a bit disturbed when it stopped. And when the first bandit came through the door to the shrieks from the other kids, he howled. He was terrified. He scrambled into my lap and wrapped his arms around my neck. It took me and hubby to get him to let go and then I had to hold him through the rest of the train robbery with his head buried in my jacket. There wasn't much else I could do. I tried whispering to him that it was just pretend but ended up telling him that mommy and daddy was here and he was safe. The robber just gave me a sympathetic look as he skipped over us and gathered up the fake money. What else could they do. It's not like they could let us out inbetween the two stations. I'm sure they would have liked to.
The boy stayed in my jacket even when BF finally took action and deputized the other kids to catch the bad guys. They even gave him a used slug and a deputy's badge, well gave me as he wouldn't look at them. At the station stop he wanted no pony rides. And no pictures with the desperadoes or horses. We looked at the collection of old trains they had for future restoration.

The ride back consisted of me sittingrightnext to him so he could safely look out the window and avoid catching the attention of anyone associated with the unfortunate incident. It wasn't easy as a few of them hitched a ride back on the train.

Now, in my son's defense, as a two year old his only exposure to anything vaguely resembling a cowboy and/or a sheriff was Woody from Toy Story. Surprisingly, he still remembers the incident (still can't laugh about it though.) He wants to make sure that any other old train we ride doesn't have those guys on it.


PS- if anyone hears about other old trains around,let me know...

    Bookmark   June 4, 2005 at 7:59AM
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Sheila - oh boy, that story is funny. We've never done one of their special event rides except the one with Santa. I live 5 minutes from there so it's especially convenient. If your son is like mine & likes trains, he might like Northlandz in Flemington on 202. It is the largest indoor model train set in the world. I think that there's a mile of walkways. A bit pricy, but again - the kiddies love it. There's supposed to be a steam engine train ride in Phillipsbug but I don't know if that's a regular thing on a special event. Also there is a Thomas the Tank Engine special event where the kids get to ride Thomas on the weekend of the 19th in Lancaster. Lancaster also has a few train museums there to go visit. My kids love that too.

How old is your son? Mine is 5. DD who's 3 also loves going.


    Bookmark   June 4, 2005 at 8:56AM
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Loretta NJ Z6

Oh, my 4 and 7 yr old would love that! Too bad it was only on for two days in May. Drat!
Thomas the Tank Engine is very popular here too. It's my livingroom cocktail table. The Thomas ride travels around. There use to be a schedule link on their website but they changed it since they redid the show.

Here is a link that might be useful: Black River Railroad

    Bookmark   June 5, 2005 at 9:34PM
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ellenr22 - NJ - Zone 6b/7a

I quite agree with you. I did say in an earlier post that I bought 2 plants when I was there - Salvia Leukophylla, and -the name escapes me - another unusual (to me) Salvia. They were marked down, and they were extremely healthy plants. I managed to keep them over one winter by taking them indoors and enjoyed them for anther season before I let them go.


    Bookmark   June 6, 2005 at 10:31AM
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birdgardner(NJ/ 6b)

When I've gone there early in the season (late May) a lot of stuff wasn't ready yet. I had to wheedle someone to go into the greenhouses and try to find the plants I'd come for. Managed to get most of them. My children enjoyed the chickens. There is also a fish hatchery nearby that was fun.


    Bookmark   June 6, 2005 at 11:51AM
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I was there a couple of years ago - I think it was mid or late May - gardens looked great - fabulous display of double bloodroot under a tree, fernleaf peonies in bloom, huge display of herbs, annuals and perennials. Got to tour all (and I mean ALL) the greenhouses, seeing tropical plants (not grown for sale) that I hadn't dreamed existed.
In addition to herbs, picked up a couple tiny barberries with plum and yellow foliage - they are fairly large plants now and that yellow barberry sure looks great contrasted with the purple.
Asked a young salesperson about the hardiness of an artemisia. "Hey Mom!" he yelled into his phone. And then got the answer back that it was just as tender. Too bad! But yes, it is strictly a Mom & Pop outfit and after July 1st things slack off a lot.

    Bookmark   June 8, 2005 at 6:08PM
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I've been there twice and had absolutely wonderful experiences on both visits. What's funny is that our visits have been the week before Christmas. My husband and I had such a good time that we've decided to make a trip there an annual tradition.

We called ahead and made sure that Cyrus, the owner, would be around. We've been lucky enough that on these slow cold days, he gave us a private tour.

We've bought a bunch of scented geraniums and herbs from there. We're now hooked on caring for our plants and propagating new ones. (Cyrus is a smart man to hook us on geraniums, which are so easy to propagate!) While wandering through his greenhouses with our selections, he nipped off tiny bits of a few plants and told us to "put that in your pocket." Our "pocket babies" are now a full-sized korean violet, a lovely coelus, a leaf of life, serissa, and several others. I was taken with his passion for gardening and his generosity. We bought a foot-high snow rose topiary that had the most breath-taking tiny flowers this winter.


    Bookmark   June 9, 2005 at 3:50PM
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Loretta NJ Z6

Yes, I've gotten pieces of plants too. He is very nice.

    Bookmark   June 10, 2005 at 4:26PM
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I was there once because of the herb selection I'd heard about. The gardens took me by surprise--I didn't know anything about them. It was lovely, but I was surprised to see Wellsweep listed as a NJ garden to visit. I don't know if I'd drive any great distance just to see their gardens.

    Bookmark   March 17, 2006 at 11:57PM
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Loretta NJ Z6

I have to disagree. They have a large collection of plants to view that are not common and the garden is charming enough. It all depends on your interests.

    Bookmark   March 18, 2006 at 11:49PM
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woodlandpixie(z6 NJ)

I have to agree with loretta, this is one of my favorite nurseries. I usually go around Mothers Day and the gardens are charming. I think their strong points for me are the extensive herb collection and the selection of native plants. Prices are reasonable also and staff is very helpful.

    Bookmark   March 27, 2006 at 6:14AM
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