Two Scottie Farm: Vermont's Garden of Wander and Whimsy

The ultimate restoration project, Two Scottie Farm brings playfulness and vitality to a pastoral Vermont setting.

| September/October 2007

Now a vibrant, humming center of life—with a plum orchard, flock of sheep and pond buzzing with dragonflies and bullfrogs—Vermont’s Two Scottie Farm was once a dilapidated, abandoned property in complete disrepair. Nearly a decade ago, Diana Bingham, a farmer, social activist and former chef, was searching for a farm, using “stewardship,” “sustainability” and “community” as her watchwords. When she stumbled upon the 45 acres near Brattleboro, she knew she’d found her paradise, which she named after a pair of beloved Scottish terriers.

Rolling rocky pastures, aged fruit trees, wooded hillsides and a pond-like area fed by a natural spring graced the property, which was already protected under a conservation easement. However, the pastures and fruit trees were neglected, and the tiny clapboard farmhouse was beyond salvaging. Still, Diana saw a utopian potential. “Healthy forests, managed fields, a flock of sheep, loving canines and a community of likeminded people are my dream,” she says.

Diana donated the crumbling house to the fire department to use for a fire drill. She then worked with restoration experts to turn an early 19thcentury barn (deconstructed elsewhere and brought to her property) into her primary residence. Once the home was complete, gardener Rod Payne-Meyer helped Diana develop a garden plan.

Naturalized plantings of native and non-invasive exotic perennials fill stone terraces and line the drive that leads to and circles the house. Signature plants in the ornamental areas include Japanese dogwood trees (Cornus kousa) and redtwig Siberian dogwood shrubs (Cornus alba), native ferns and non-native hostas, speedwell (Veronica spp.) and herbs such as angelica (Angelica archangelica).

Masses of spring-blooming bulbs such as snowdrops (Galanthus spp.), Glory of the Snow (Chionodoxa forbesii), daffodils and tulips cheer Diana through the long, cool Vermont springs. Hardy clematis (Clematis spp.) and hydrangea (Hydrangea petiolaris) scramble up and over the rock walls and pillars, softening hard edges and further settling the weathered building into the site.

A nearby pond completes the idyllic rural scene. In spring and fall, it invites cavorting peepers, toads and bullfrogs; summer brings snakes, fish, fireflies, dragonflies—and swimming; while winter’s activities include ice skating followed by hot tea.

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