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Wednesday, August 3, 2016

Pizza Pop-Up Dinners at Stonewell Farm- September 16th, 17th & 18th

 Pop-Up Dinner Event at Stonewell Farm

This just might be the highlight of the season as we head into Fall.  Chef Paul Barron and Weekend Kitchen team up with Stonewell Farm to host 3 separate evenings of farm-to-table dining that make for a memorable event. Gather some friends, or come alone and make new friends, and enjoy delicious food featuring artisanal pizzas prepared in Stonewell Farm’s wood-fired oven, with wine pairings, and live acoustic guitar in a setting that will take your breath away. Your hosts, Andrew Pighills and Michelle Becker are award-winning garden designers and  will provide tours of the extensive gardens including perennial borders, an espaliered orchard and the organic kitchen and herb gardens from which much of your meal will be sourced.

Friday, September 16th 2016,               6:00 pm
Saturday, September 17th, 2016          5:30 pm
Sunday, September 18th, 2016             5:30 pm

$75.00 per person
The prix-fixe menu includes appetizers, organic salad from Stonewell Farm, unlimited artisanal wood-fired pizzas highlighting locally sourced ingredients with a glass of wine accompaniment, and a dessert made with local, seasonal fruits. To cap it off, the evening will conclude with a bonfire in the stone firepit (so bring some good stories).
Guests are encouraged to BYOB.

To book a reservation, contact:

Tuesday, July 26, 2016

SEPTEMBER 24th and 25th , 2016


On September 24th and 25th,  2016, Andrew Pighills, expert stone mason, will teach a two-day, weekend long workshop on the art of dry stone wall building at Stonewell Farm in Killingworth, CT.
 Participants will learn the basic principles of wall building, from establishing foundations, to the methods of dry laid (sometimes called dry-stacked) construction and ‘hearting’ the wall. This hands-on workshop will address not only the structure and principles behind wall building but also the aesthetic considerations of balance and proportion. 

This workshop is open to participants, 18 years of age or older, of all levels of experience. Please note, the workshop is limited to 16 participants, and spaces fill up quickly.

You must pre-register to attend the workshop.

Time:   Saturday, September 24th and Sunday, September 25th ,  9:00 am till 4:00 pm
Place:    Stonewell Farm, 39 Beckwith Rd., Killingworth CT 06419
Tuition: $350.00

To register for the workshop please contact the Workshop Administrator and she will email a registration form:

Michelle Becker , Workshop Administrator
860-322-0060 or by e-mail:

At the end of the day on Saturday you’ll be hungry, tired and ready for some rest and relaxation, so we fire up our wood-fired Stone pizza oven and serve beer, wine and Pizza Rustica. Fun and delicious!


 Andrew’s work includes outdoor kitchens, wine cellars, fire-pits, fireplaces and garden features that include follies and other whimsical structures in stone.

 Born in Yorkshire, England, Andrew Pighills is an accomplished stone artisan, gardener and horticulturist. He received his formal horticulture training with The Royal Horticultural Society and has spent 40+ years creating gardens and building dry stone walls in his native England in and around the spectacular Yorkshire Dales and the English Lake District. Today, Andrew is one of a small, but dedicated group of US-based, certified, professional members of The Dry Stone Walling Association of Great Britain. Having moved to the United States more than ten years ago, he now continues this venerable craft here in the US, building dry stone walls, stone structures and creating gardens throughout New England and beyond.
His particular technique of building walls adheres to the ancient methods of generations of dry stone wallers in his native Yorkshire Dales. Andrew’s commitment to preserving the integrity and endurance of this traditional building art has earned him a devoted list of private and public clients here and abroad including the English National Trust, the English National Parks, and the Duke of Devonshire estates. His stone work has been featured on British and American television, in Charles McCraven’s book The Stone Primer, and Jeffrey Matz’s Midcentury Houses Today, A study of residential modernism in New Canaan Connecticut. He has featured  in the N Y Times, on Martha Stewart Living radio, and in the Graham Deneen  film short  “Dry Stone”, as well as various media outlets both here and in the UK, including an article in the Jan/Feb 2015 issue of Yankee Magazine.
Andrew is a DSWA fully qualified dry stone walling instructor. In addition to building in stone and creating gardens, Andrew teaches dry stone wall building workshops in and around New England. He is a frequent lecturer on the art of dry stone walling, and how traditional UK walling styles compare to those found in New England. His blog, Heave and Hoe; A Day in the Life of a Dry Stone Waller and Gardener, provides more information about Andrew.

Thursday, January 21, 2016

The Fruiting Orchard

Several years ago, we took the decision  to remove a row of mature Eastern red cedar trees, (they are actually Junipers -Juniperus virginiana) after failing to control Cedar apple rust
Cedar apple rust on Juniperus virginiana
on our four, poorly performing apple trees, destined to become three after the largest tree succumbed to a prolonged wet spell followed by strong winds, and toppled. At the same time, we also decided to enlarge our orchard and fruit garden. So, at this time of year, when our gardening activities are often limited to poring over seed and plant catalogues, we are also pruning our established fruit trees, and formative pruning our new stock.

Our established fruit trees, which were already mature when we acquired the property, consist of three apples, only one of which we are sure of its progeny, (Red delicious) and two pear trees almost certainly Bartlett's, Oh, and one branch on an almost dead Peach tree which produced one peach and then promptly gave up the ghost, to be grubbed out and replaced by an Atlas cedar at the the north east corner of the orchard.  And, while not being productive of edible fruit, the Cedrus Atlantica, will with its majestic growth, nevertheless, feed the soul.
Fruiting Quince Cydonia oblonga

By removing the Eastern red cedars, we've been able to expand our choice of fruit trees within the orchard and ornamental flowering trees without. Plants within the Rose (Rosaceae) family, of which apples are one, are susceptible to Cedar apple rust. Of these, the ones grown primarily for their edible fruit include Apples, Pears, Peaches, Plums, Apricots, Nectarines, Cherries, Blackberries, Raspberries, Strawberries and Quince (Cydonia oblonga),
all of which we grow in our orchard and fruit garden, along with Persimmon, Mulberry, Blueberry, Gooseberry, Grape, and Currants (Black, Red and White).

 Quince (Chaenomeles japonica, and others) the flowering shrub,is also in the Rose family and now happily grows in our flower gardens along with other Rose family members, Hawthorn, Serviceberry and of course the Rose itself in all its glorious guises.
Flowering Quince Chaenomeles japonica

I started this post with the intention of writing about the pruning of fruiting plants, ah well, next time.

Tuesday, May 5, 2015

Unearthing history.

While dismantling the wall on my current project, a small retaining wall in varying degrees of collapse. The face stones became narrow to the point of having no structural cohesion.

When I began to dig out the soil behind the wall, the reason for these narrow stones became clear.
Intersecting the repaired wall at a 45 degree angle, was a previously built and superior retaining wall.
Possibly out of respect for a previous craftsman, the builder of the second wall had simply walled across the face of the existing wall with the above narrow stones.
Altering the line of the wall was not an option, so I dismantled a small section of the original retaining wall and reused the stone in the repaired wall.
I hope the next builder finds the existing wall as fascinating as did I.

Monday, May 4, 2015

Another successful drystone wall building workshop

This last weekend brought together a diverse group of participants from far and wide. Minnesota, New York, Maine and all parts of Connecticut. Stonewell Farm in Killingworth CT was the venue for our Spring Drystone walling workshop, and, as you can see from the photos, glorious weather, and good humor inspired another successful weekend.
Our next gathering will be the 26th and 27th of September.

Friday, April 24, 2015

Michelle hung out the hummingbird feeders on Wednesday and sure enough we had our first visitor today. As is usually the case, these first arrivals are passing through to breeding grounds further north. The resident hummingbirds should be here within the week.
Get out those feeders.

Saturday, January 17, 2015

Feed the Birds

With the turning of the year and the lengthening days, our minds are drawn further still, to the warm spring days which beckon us to another year of outdoor in the garden. Here at Stonewell Farm, we are now firmly in the camp of leaving last year’s growth to overwinter in situ. This provides some succor to the feathered or fur clad wildlife that inhabit the gardens throughout the winter months, be it through protection from the weather, or our ever present kettle of hawks as with this Autumn Clematis and Boxwood.  Seedheads and dried stems can provide a source of food in their own right, as well as sheltering insects which provide another source of nutrition for wild birds.

                   Autumn clematis (above) and Boxwood (below) grow densely enough to provide shelter from persistent wind or predatory wing,

Berries and seedheads provide wildbirds with a much needed source of nutrition in winter.

By leaving last years growth intact, some plants, like this grass,  create a layer of protection for the new shoots waiting patiently for spring to return, while at the same time giving some visual winter interest.


 Occasionally a snowy display of florescences result unexpectedly, as seen on these Hydrangeas.