Well-Sweep Farm Showcases Medicinal, Culinary Use of Herbs

Reed Travel Features

PORT MURRAY -- Groups visiting the Garden State might want to spend a day here in the Hyde family's garden.

Their garden actually is an herb farm, and people from all over the country have come here to learn about the plants.

The Well-Sweep Herb Farm, which is located in the northern part of the state between Hackettstown and Washington, is run by Louise and Cy Hyde.

The couple has been growing herbs for more than 30 years, and what started as a personal garden has grown into a collection of hundreds of herbs.

Visitors can view and purchase rare and hard-to-find herbs as well as varieties that are more familiar, including 50 types of rosemary, 45 varieties of thyme and 120 different kinds of scented geranium.

Herbs are separated into four categories: medicinal, culinary, dyeing and fragrant, according to Cy Hyde.

Herbs, he said, play a variety of roles in different cultures.

For example, in Poland, many people will plant myrtle when a child is born and use the greens in bridal wreaths.

Many Germans will put a sprig of rosemary in the christening water and put it in the hand of the deceased in their coffin, Hyde said.

The farm has grown in popularity during the past few years as more people have taken an interest in herbs and their use for medicinal purposes.

The farm has welcomed a variety of groups, ranging from garden clubs and historical clubs to cooking schools.

Tours are available for groups of up to 70 people with a minimum of 12 participants.

The cost varies depending on the number of people in the group.

In addition, slide shows, craft classes and lectures are given by various experts throughout the year.

Groups can request lectures on specific subjects, Hyde said.

Lecture topics include Workhorse Perennials and Unusual Garden Ornaments; Capturing the Romance of the Garden, and Medicinal Herbs.

In addition to herbs, the farm has a variety of perennials, a gift shop and farm animals, including horses, pigs and chickens. These are not just any chickens; they are show chickens.

"Some people raise dogs or cats, I raise chickens," he said.

The chickens are from Japan and are called onagadori or phoenix chickens.

The farm also boasts a beautifully landscaped, half-acre formal herb garden that is planted with an array of herbs and perennials, a picnic area and a play area for children.

Well-Sweep Herb Farm is open April through December on Mondays from 1 p.m. to 5 p.m. and Tuesdays through Saturdays 9:30 a.m. to 5 p.m.; call ahead during January through March to arrange visits.

The best time to visit is during July and August.

The 1997 catalog will be available at the end of March and costs $2.

For details, contact Louise Hyde at (908) 852-5390.

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