HIGGANUM — If “The English Lady” has one overriding piece of advice for gardeners everywhere, it would be that if you want something to grow, spread manure abundantly.
“Manure, like fine wine, gets better with age…just like ‘The English Lady,’” she noted during her “Garden Earth Talk” at the Higganum Village Farmer’s Market Friday afternoon. “It’s like liquid gold.”
A crowd had amassed to listen to The English Lady, a gardening expert, whose real name is Maureen Haseley-Jones. Considering gardening to be a vocation, she is the founder of the English Lady Landscape & Home, headquartered in Essex.
Haseley-Jones specializes in organically-inspired landscape and home design all over New England and can be heard on WRCH 100.5 every third Thursday of the month from 8 to 9 a.m., where she dispenses gardening tips.
“Everyone deserves a garden,” she told the crowd. “And by gardening organically, you will be healing the planet, one garden at a time.”
Joanne Rosano and Barbara Misenti of Middletown were thrilled to meet Haseley-Jones and to ask her gardening questions in person.
“I listen to her on the radio and came down here just to meet her,” Rosano noted.
The pair had asked Haseley-Jones how to rid their gardens of moles. They received a most-unusual gardening tip: place chocolate Ex-Lax in the mole hole and soon the entire problem will be gone.
Higganum residents Bob Zyko and Tom Malginn also came to hear Haseley-Jones speak on all things horticultural. Both said that having her as a speaker at the farmer’s market was the main reason they decided to attend.
Haseley-Jones comes from a long line of gardeners. During her talk she noted that her family has been “tilling the earth” since 1648, beginning as tenants at Powys Castle in Wales.
“In fact, the gardens at Powys Castle are still considered to be the finest in the British Isles,” Haseley-Jones said proudly.
Haseley-Jones received her formal horticultural training at the world-renowned Royal Botanic Gardens, At Kew in Surrey England.
“I have soil in my blood and manure in my veins,” she added facetiously. “My grandmother would have tea with the Duchess of Devonshire and they would sit and talk for hours about composting.”
A key point that Haseley-Jones made during her talk is that gardening is about so much more than most people realize. “It’s about life, fragrance, movement…it’s one of the few places in life that you have some control over,” she said.
Haseley-Jones advised the crowd to use organic gardening practices as much as possible. Calling the use of pesticides “unnatural growing practices”, she noted that numerous studies have linked their use to various illnesses such as cancer and Parkinson’s disease.
Instead, she advocates attracting toads to the garden to keep the pests at bay. “Toads are fantastic for the garden. If you provide a toad house, they will come to your garden, take up residence and eat all the insects,” Haseley-Jones said.
Above all, Haseley-Jones advised the crowd to talk to their plants. “They absolutely love it,” she said. She noted that Prince Charles talks to his plants and said that he is a world-famous organic gardener.
“Let Mother Nature heal you,” Haseley-Jones said at the end of her talk. “Today life is such a competition. We’re always trying to do things better and faster. Gardening is all about nurturing and nourishing the earth and unconditional love for the earth. It is a place of joy and peace.”
Haseley-Jones ended her talk with words of wisdom from Thomas More in 1536 that she says still ring true today: “If you want to be happy for a lifetime, plant a garden.”
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