Tossing obligation to the wind, I checked the Open Days schedule on the Garden Conservancy website and discovered five gardens open within a 15 or 20 minute drive from my house on Sunday. What was I waiting for? I decided to hit three of them-one that was new to me, one I had been to before and one I thought I might have been to before. All of them opened at 10 AM. It was already 9:30 so I quickly changed into relatively clean clothes and headed out the door. A brief rummage through the kitchen catch all drawer produced a booklet of Open Days vouchers tucked into the directory from 2008. Hmmm...I need to get out more-at least to open gardens. Oh and maybe I should clean out that drawer. Put it on the list.
Garden number one was new to me. The property was lovely and contained some nice natural and hard scape features. The gardeners were excited and eager to share. But a large portion of the garden was fairly new and for the most part sparsely planted. Maybe in a couple of years as garden areas develop and plantings mature I'll have the opportunity to visit again.
Now garden number two...ooh la la!
From the lush plantings, to the incredibly decorated patio, the beautiful and creatively displayed collection of statuary and the lovely brick Georgian colonial home, there was nothing I didn't love about this property. It was all designed and maintained by the home owners who obviously have excellent taste and impeccable eyes for detail. Even the hoses and watering cans were artfully arranged. Usually I'm not a fan of formal gardens but in my opinion the design of this garden strikes just the perfect balance between formal and informal. I could live here.
As it turns out I had visited this garden once before when it was on the tour of a local garden club. In conversation with one of the owners I learned that was in 2005. Sheesh-I do need to get out more. Where does time go?
On to garden number three!
A sizeable investment has been made in the property and hard scaping of this garden. Usually a meticulously maintained garden of this size uses some form of outside help and this one is no exception. When asked how the beautiful river rock edging is maintained, the garden owner told me a crew removes the stone, places it in buckets, weeds and edges the strip, then washes the stone and replaces it. Hundreds of feet of this edging treatment was located throughout the garden. Yikes!
However the home owners are very involved in the design and maintenance of the garden, they open for tours frequently, and graciously and enthusiastically welcome all visitors. The property includes a pool area, rose gardens, perennial borders and woodlands. My favorite garden is the richly planted shade garden which encompasses most of the front yard. Flagstone paths meander through tall trees. Music plays softly in the background. A collection of sculpture is displayed throughout. The overall effect is enchantingly cool and serene.
Going forward I plan to keep a closer eye on the Open Days schedule. Visiting private gardens, especially when they have been spiffed up for tours, is fun and entertaining. You return to your own garden energized with new ideas and visions. Although speaking of my own garden, if I want to be able to do any entertaining in it at all this summer, I'd better start spending more time toiling in it and less time crawling through nurseries, restaurants and other people's gardens.
Wow, what a beautiful garden with great outdoor living spaces. I especially love the garden room with the oak bench. I'd love to know how they maintain that. Great tour Sue, thanksReplyDelete
I should have thought to ask about the maintenance on the bench. I think it was an old church pew. Maybe they cover it.Delete
Yes, please attend more tours! The story about the rock edging is incredible but believable, seeing the high standards of maintenance of these gardens. Third photo of garden No. 2 has that intriguing wooden divider/headboard thingy and the big paddle-leaved plant, maybe a nicotiana. ooh la la indeed!ReplyDelete
I believe the oak bench on the patio was an old church pew. The attention to detail in that garden was incredible.Delete
Denise, I think the 'paddle leaved plant' in photo 7 is rudbeckia maxima. Glaucous leaves and shape/height.ReplyDelete
Yes, they were growing R. maxima randomly in that bed. I've always wanted to try it but figured it would be a flopfest in my less than full sun anywhere garden. That garden had alot of high shade as well so maybe it would work for me in the right spot.Delete
I'm with you on that last woodland shade garden photo! That's where I'd unwind! :)ReplyDelete
Well Sue, even if you have been a GC slacker, you can at least attest to annual garden visits via IU !ReplyDelete
At first I liked the rock borders and fountain in the third garden, but the more I looked at them the more they looked stiffly artificial. And then I read your comments on how they maintain the rock borders, wow. The sharp contrast of clean rocks and plantings makes a good photo, but not a great garden. There were lots of other shady and well planned garden shots on your tour though, and some very creative elements. Such fun to visit other gardens!ReplyDelete
Laurrie, I have a few small areas in my garden filled with river rock so I know how much of a pain it is to maintain. That's why I asked the question. In fact, I'm in the process of taking a short pathway of river rock out and converting it to stepping stones just to cut back on maintenance.Delete
In all fairness to the gardener he said they were starting to convert the river rock edging to granite cobblestone. Still expensive but without as much ongoing maintenance.
These gardens both look great to me, especially the second one. I don't go to open garden events . . . maybe I should check one out.ReplyDelete
In the right gardens you could find lots of daily photo ops, Jack.Delete
Sue, so glad I found your blog and your thoughts about your Open Days experience. It's great to hear the visitors are interacting with the Garden Hosts and feeling inspired. Hope you get a chance to visit many others!ReplyDelete
-Stephanie at The Garden Conservancy
Hi Stephanie-I actually have opened my garden for tours both through the Garden Conservancy and the CT Hort Society. It takes a great deal of effort so I appreciate all the great gardeners who are willing to participate.Delete
Sue, I've been enjoying your blog. I too love to visit private gardens but usually find most fairly ordinary. It is nice if there is at least one that gives inspiration.ReplyDelete