Jerry and Beth Blankenship of Blankenship Farms and Nursery are known for growing quality nursery stock. One tree in particular allowed them to take a trip to Martha Stewart’s garden.
Stewart was in search of some European hornbeams (carpinus betalus), and Beth said, “Her people reached out to us and asked us if we had some, and we did. So they needed like 100 of them, and we delivered them to her at her estate in Katonah, New York.”
Jerry explained the appeal of the tree and said, “It’s used in hedging, especially up in New England, New York area, Long Island. It’s also used in Europe extensively. If you remember, in Europe they’re talking about ‘fighting between the hedges’ in World War II, that’s what a lot of those plants were, hornbeams. They’re used as windbreaks.”
He added, “Her whole reasoning for wanting the plants is she was creating a maze for her estate, and the maze is probably, it looked to be about three or four acres.” Beth added, “What she’s going to do, in the fall, when it’s finished, she can invite her friends to go through a maze.” Stewart chose the hornbeams for their striking fall colors.
Jerry said, “There’s a friend of ours that is friends with her. And he told her that we probably had the plants, and then her gardener reached out us. And we had them and were working pretty hard here, but we just decided, how many times do you go get to see Martha Stewart’s estate? So we just decided to take the trees up ourselves and go tour the estate.”
The two hauled the hornbeams up to Stewart’s personal garden, and Beth said, “Then we got up there and they said, ‘Well, we’d like for you to be on ‘Martha Gardens’ and talk about trees.’’’ Jerry said, “We didn’t know we were going to be on a show, we just thought we were going to go up there and meet, then all of a sudden, we’re filming, we’re on the show. So that was pretty neat.”
When asked if they were nervous to be on television, Beth answered, “He wasn’t. He’s done several different things with the news, and he used to be in marketing at the Department of Agriculture. So part of his job was going out and doing articles and being on TV.” But she said that it was a first for her.
Jerry said, “We went maybe a day earlier than what we were supposed to, and we did not get to meet Martha. However, we met everyone else.” Though they didn’t meet the television star, they got pretty close, meeting many employees of hers, seeing the front of Stewart’s house, and even meeting Stewart’s dogs. Beth said that Ralph Lauren lived next door to Stewart.
To catch the Blankenships on your screens, you can tune in to the first episode of “Martha Gardens” on the Roku Channel, which is on demand.