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Saturday my mother and I enjoyed a rain free morning by exploring the Back in Thyme Gardens & Culinary Center. This gem of a garden is located south of Joplin, between Seneca and Neosho. The address is 18284 Gazelle Drive, Neosho, but use your phone’s GPS. This farmette , nestled in a gorgeous valley in Newton County, is in the middle of nowhere.
However, that’s part of it’s charm.
We successfully navigated the country roads, locating Back in Thyme Gardens in about half an hour, driving from Joplin. I’m so glad that we decided to follow curiosity and check it out. Truthfully, my mom had me at the word “garden”. It’s so much more than that though.
Creating Back in Thyme Gardens & Culinary Center
Owners John and Brenda Coleman created the gardens four years ago, in an empty field across the road from their home. It could properly be called a hobby farm. However, I know from working in my own backyard garden that this hobby requires a great deal of work and maintenance.
A hobby farm is defined as a small farm operated for pleasure or for supplemental income, rather than being a source of primary income.
I don’t know if this is true for John and Brenda. It’s evident that Back in Thyme thrives under their continual care and they do take pleasure in their gardens. This place is truly a work of art and a labor of love, with emphasis on the labor part.
Back in Thyme Gardens & Culinary Center is open Thursday through Saturday, from spring until early summer. Along with the gardens to wander through, there are nursery plants for sale, a retail center and a delightful assortment of friendly animals. While there are items for sale, it does not cost anything to explore this magical place. Guests are encouraged to ask questions, smell the flowers and nibble on the edible plants.
The Inhabitants of Back in Thyme Gardens
Mom and I arrived at the gardens just as they opened for the day. I laughed as soon as we stepped out of the car. Gracie the dog greeted us, along with the cutest trio of animals I’ve ever seen. Two pot belly pigs grunted a welcome to us as they crowded eagerly against the fence.
Of course I had to get closer. What made me laugh, however, was their sidekick friend tagging along. She’s a turkey! These three stayed side by side in their enclosure, obviously best buds.
As we entered the gardens, the trio trotted across their pen to meet us on the interior side. I couldn’t resist. I scratched their snouts, which the pigs seemed to enjoy, and petted the turkey.
It was equally fun to visit the chicken enclosure and watch all the chicks come running! These well cared for animals appear to enjoy human interaction. The ducks waddled over to check us out as well and preen a bit. The back of the gardens contains bee hives. We stayed clear of those, so as not to disturb them.
Exploring Back in Thyme Gardens
I love that one can stand in any spot and see most of the gardens, and yet there are many paths to wander down and alcoves to explore.
We took our time walking down each pathway.
Colorful flowers spill over huge metal tubs. Herbs share space with veggies and fruits. It was fun to identify each plant we found, or failing to come up with a name, look at the little signs. I like that the gardens are a mix of many plants. It’s how I garden, with a certain amount of riotous chaos. It makes for an interesting and beautiful space.
We spied an Alice in Wonderland themed garden. And alcoves both large and small intrigued us with statues, plants and repurposed items.
Wandering the gardens, I felt inspired. I took mental notes of ideas I could incorporate into my own backyard paradise. For example, an old brass headboard painted green serves as a decoration in the garden, as does a vintage metal settee bench. I love using repurposed metal in my garden. I’ll be watching for a headboard at a flea market or yard sale to “plant” in my backyard.
As we left the front gardens, we entered into the nursery section, where low wooden tables held containers of herbs and flowers for sale.
The Back in Thyme Nursery
The back section of the gardens offers row after row of plants for sale. Mom and I enjoyed walking down each row. We discovered flowers that are new to us. And we exclaimed over the many varieties of peonies, a fragrant spring flower that my grandfather loved.
Butterflies and bees flitted from flower to flower, a sign of a healthy and attractive garden.
As I look around, I’m impressed with this garden center. And I feel so at home here. If I owned a couple of acres, this is what I’d love to create. The Colemans have transformed a field into beautiful gardens and launched a dream.
Finally we wandered into the little retail shop. It’s cool interior welcomed us after our exploring outdoors. The shop offers an assortment of gardening books and supplies, seeds, raw organic honey from the onsite bees, windchimes and many other fun items.
Gracie the dog enjoys the shop too. She sprawls on the floor, hoping for a belly rub.
We purchase packets of seeds, to fill the last of our empty containers.
The Search for Eden
In the movie, A Little Chaos, Andre Le Nortre, the master gardener, asks Sabine about her small and wildly beautiful garden.
“This abundance of chaos…is this your Eden?”
“My search for it,” she answers.
Perhaps those of us who enjoy gardening…who love getting our hands into the dirt and think nothing of talking to plants…perhaps we are instinctively searching for Eden. By creating our own paradises, we find our way back to the garden. We return home.
If you enjoy gardens or herbs or flowers or barnyard animals, you must visit Back in Thyme Gardens & Culinary Center. Future plans expand on the culinary part, with cooking classes and demonstrations offered.
I so look forward to that. And I look forward to returning to this piece of Eden.
Visit the Back in Thyme Gardens & Culinary Center Facebook page HERE.
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