Well Sweep Herb Farm

By Robert Gluck

Touring Well-Sweep Herb Farm in Port Murray with its proprietor, Cyrus Hyde, is truly an exciting learning experience; part herbal lesson, part horticulture history flashback, part taste test. Recognized as one of the premier herb farms in the United States, Hyde's 120 acres dazzle herbal newcomers into an eagerness to learn more about a subject native medicine men have mastered since the time of the ancient Egyptians. "We can tell the ancient Egyptians used herbs because we've identified certain plants in their paintings and drawings," Hyde says as he walks, tears off a small leaf of a plant and asks this writer to taste test.

Sundial garden at Well Sweep

Hyde runs the Well-Sweep Herb Farm with his wife Louise and his son David. The farm has been in business for nearly fifty years, and Hyde's family can trace part of its history back to George Washington. "I grew up in Totowa and my great-great-great grandmother brought herbs, food and milk to Washington and his hungry troops who were camping near Dey mansion," he explains, pointing to a pewter kneebuckle presented to his relatives by the great general.

Standing near show chickens with eight foot tail feathers-- onagadoris from Japan-- Hyde begins a remarkable lesson in herbs and their history. He's such an expert that he's in demand as a speaker at garden clubs and college horticulture classes. Dedicated to offering his customers the widest variety of quality herbs, flowering perennials, dried flower arrangements and other related herbalware (including many books on herbal remedies and cooking recipes), Well-Sweep is a stop herb lovers can't miss.

"We have a way of life here," Hyde notes, explaining the entire system at Well-Sweep. Cold frames, hot-beds, one of the largest collections of herbs in the country; any visitor will, indeed, marvel. And, they'll marvel at the expanse of Hyde's knowledge. "Here's something interesting and very rare," Hyde says, pointing to an herb. "It's double bloodroot. It's used medicinally. This is unusual to have the double. I see a resurgence in the use of herbal remedies. People are trying to get away from a lot of the different medicines that have side effects, they want to go back to nature. I'm no doctor and I'm not telling you to do it, I'm just telling you what I'm doing."

For inspiration and ideas, Well-Sweep remains unmatched. Nestled in the scenic hills of Warren County, the farm's pride and joy is its breathtaking formal half-acre display garden. The the brick-pathed garden boasts a wide array of herbs and perennials. And, admidst the scenic gardens you'll find 36 types of basils, 60 different lavenders, 80 varieties of thyme and over 100 scented-leaved geraniums.

"Herbs come under four categories," Cyrus says, walking and pointing. "Medicinal, culinary, dying, and fragrance. "Here we have poppy flowering celendyne. This is one of the first things to bloom. It likes semi-shade so it does very well under this rose bush. Celendyne had many uses medicinally, but this was one use-- it would be painted on warts. When you break the stem an orange sap comes out and that would be painted on to dry up warts and corns."

Among the many herbs at Well-Sweep are silver corkscrew chives, angelica, blackberry lily, borage, savory, cinnamon, stawbery blite, cilentro, sweet woodruff, fragrant heliotrope, lippia dulcis, dianthus, sweet cicely, catnip, cuban basil, allspice, milk thistle and on and on. The Hydes know about them all.

They'll teach you, if you're interested; Hyde consults those who want to grow their own herbs, and Well-Sweep offers classes, lectures, open houses, herb festivals and garden tours. And you can bring the children--Cyrus , his wife Louise, and their son David, always welcome families who care to bring a picnic lunch, play with their kids in the farm's sandbox, stroll the gardens and visit the exotic animals.

Call Well Sweep Herb Farm at 908/852-5390 or visit their website for hours, a mail order catalog and more information.

Upcoming Events

  • June 2 • SPRING OPEN HOUSE. Enjoy a day of free informative lectures, herb & perennial presentations, as well as tours of our spectacular gardens. Our largest selection of herb plants will be available on this day. Homemade refreshments can be enjoyed by all. Feel free to bring a picnic lunch. 9am - 5pm. Free admission and parking..
  • June 29 • MEDICINAL HERB WALK & STORYTELLING. 6:30 - 9pm. $43.
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Jerry Stang
04 Oct 2014, 19:30
Thanks for a wonderful tour, for the herb education and beauty. Now I know why this is the Garden State.
Suzy Stokes
11 Jun 2011, 14:25
Such a beautiful herb farm...absolutley outstanding!!! A wide selection of unusual plants to buy for your own garden. I have been there many times, and every time I go back (at least 1x a year) it is more beautiful and full of outstanding flowers/herbs/vegetable plants. It is truly worth visiting...I have been to many differ gardens all over the world, and this is one fine place.
Kathy Spallinger
09 Oct 2010, 06:42
I am trying to get a catalog and the windows live thing doesn't work..would prefer to use my email....Kathy Spallinger 306 E. Division Findlay, Illinois 62534
18 Jun 2010, 11:20
What plant is under the name Summer Sun? Is it atliopsis<
06 Jan 2010, 20:23
Hope you will find the book titled\r\n\r\nHERBS OF SIDDHA MEDICINES-The First 3D\r\nBook on Herbs\r\n\r\nuseful and interesting. "The 3D photos are particularly fascinating" says His Royal Higness Prince of Wales.\r\n\r\n
Linda Fossett
29 Sep 2009, 07:31
Hello Well-Sweep Herb Farm,\r\n\r\nI am a girlscout leader looking to increase awareness to my troop of 5 regarding going green. Our silver project is geared towards "going green." My interest is this: do you ever give a tour to a small group such as ours and maybe offer a small project to go with the tour? I like the idea of your winter wreath, however, it sounds like a big project for them. The age group is 12.\r\n\r\nThank you for your consideration to our request.\r\n\r\nLinda Fossett
Constance Bellia
07 Jul 2009, 09:46
Dear Well Sweep Herb Farm, Hello! I recently visited your magnificent farm and I truly enjoyed its beauty and the expanse of land so beautifully "loved". My husband and I purchased our Edelweiss and Pink Pussy Toes from you. Edelweiss is gorgeous and doing very well, as were the Pussy Toes. I have a question: are the Pussy Toes a perennial? Ours have lost their flowers and I cut them way back, because I did not know how to handle them.\r\nI think that may have been a mistake. Please advise!\r\nThank you for your time. Constance
Alice Diane Celebre, CEC
18 Sep 2008, 04:35
Regional: Green Buildings Open House, October 4th \r\nOn Saturday, October 4, 2008, from 10:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m., the Northeast Sustainable Energy Association is welcoming the public to visit local sustainable homes and buildings throughout New Jersey and the Northeast to see clean renewable energy at work. Visitors to these buildings will be able to see how their neighbors and businesses are reducing their carbon footprint and cutting their energy bills through the power of the sun, wind, and smart building design.\r\n\r\nThe Green Buildings Open House operates in conjunction with the National Solar Tour. Homeowners and facility managers across all 50 states will be showing visitors the latest in recycling, renewable energy technologies, sustainable building materials, and energy efficient appliances. \r\n\r\nTake a local tour to learn how you, too, can save by going green.\r\n\r\nTo find the Green Buildings Open House sites nearest you, visit www.nesea.org \r\n\r\nRegional businesses, Basil Bandwagon Natural Market, 908-788-5737 (basilbandwagon.com) and Basil Brook Organic Pharm 908-788-6864, will participate in the open house again this year and provide information on Energy Star rated products, solar electric, Solatubes, Solar Star attic fans, passive solar design, solar pool heating, solar hot water, kickbikes, and an all electric car "charged by the sun." \r\nPosted by Michael Shapiro, Editor at 12:30 AM \r\n
kathleen walters
29 May 2008, 07:45
Do you sell bee skeps wholesale? I have a tax id number.\r\n\r\nMichele Richard and Kathleen Walters
Maura Mowbray
07 Feb 2008, 08:24
I would like to reserve 2 places for two for the February 16th winter tour.\r\nPlease let me know if you have room.\r\nThanks,

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