Island Farm named Roanoke Island Garden Club’s Fall Business Garden of the Season
Published 1:07 pm Sunday, November 17, 2019
By Christine Dorsey
The Island Farm, one of Roanoke Island’s many attractions and a perfect spot to celebrate autumn’s chill, is Roanoke Island Garden Club’s Business Garden of the Season for fall. Just off Highway 64 on the north end of the island, the farm includes a windmill and pasture on the east side of the road and a visitor’s center, with a plethora of plants and another pasture fronting the actual farmhouse and gardens.
From the highway, a split rail fence corrals a deep stand of loblolly pines and oaks. Turning back, the road to the visitor’s center feels like traveling back in time to the mid 1800s. You can almost smell wood burning to take the chill off. The visitor’s center is new, but rustic, with a broad front porch decorated by bunches of multi-color corn, and home to a large yellow tabby cat named Alpheus after a descendant of Adam Etheridge, the original owner of the farm.
Alpheus enjoys visitors and is quite willing to point out some of the interesting plants. Dogwoods are plentiful, their leaves turning to autumn red. There are hydrangeas already trimmed back for the coming cold nestled with mums in bright yellow and the deepest shade of cranberry. Ruellia simplex, commonly known as Mexican petunias, cover an area to the side of the porch with pretty blue flowers and lantana offers some welcome sunshine yellow.
Waiting for spring are confederate jasmine that climb the sides of the porch. Camellias, some in bloom with white blossoms and others waiting for the weather to get a bit colder, border the parking lot. Pumpkins and gourds add a festive feel to the area. Near the exit of the parking lot is a tree that looks familiar – it is a pine, after all – but closer inspection shows it to be a long leaf pine. One of Alpheus’s friends, a worker at the farm, pointed it out and explained how North Carolina was covered with forests of long leaf pines in the 1700s but they were nearly wiped out, in part because of naval stores (using the trunks for ship masts).
That’s an interesting fact and there is much more to learn and see at the Island Farm, decked out for fall, but fascinating in any season.