Brookside Farm is a place one can easily fall in love with. I had been warned of its bucolic charms — a pair of Red Devon oxen and a handful of horses grazing in meadows dotted with white drifts of wildflowers, a pasture flowing downhill to a dark mysterious pond fed by the Tiasquam River, and a beautiful house and outbuildings graceful with history.
I had come to see the gardens and was met by Maria Sercander, who has been working Brookside’s gardens for 11 years. Hilary Blocksam, Brookside’s landscape and architectural design director, farm manager, and all around chess partner told me how the current owners, Wendy Gimbel, a writer, and her husband, attorney Douglas Liebhafsky succumbed to the charms of Brookside Farm when they first saw it in the winter of 1981.
Maria propagates many of the annuals used in Brookside’s gardens. Sometimes she buys from local nurseries and recently she has been bringing in one of her favorite annuals, lisianthus, from Johnny’s Selected Seeds.
When you ask Maria what her favorite plants are she answers right away, “allium” and pauses “trillium” and then she gushes, “I love the paeonias, we have a lot of doubles, an old, old variety, a light pink with a white center. We have a lot of “dinner plate” hibiscus, a deep maroon and a bright pink. They are gorgeous. What else do I love?” She laughs, “Oh, I love everything. I adore lupines, snapdragons, cosmos.”