If you’re like me, you’re probably still in the middle of all those start-of-the-season garden chores you thought you’d be done with by Memorial Day. Well, try as we might, it’s virtually impossible to get everything done as quick as we like. We gardeners are optimists and we’re ambitious! Sometimes, though, you need to pull yourself away from that jewel weed that seems to be popping up everywhere in the vegetable patch, from those shrubs that still need to be shaped and that gravel path that’s never perfect (or in my case imperfect by a long shot!) Take some time away from toiling in your dirt and go visit some other folks’ gardens. It will inspire and re-energize you, I promise.
The good news is that the Garden Conservancy is once again hosting Open Days this summer and there’s some beautiful gardens to see right here in the Monadnock Region. The Garden Conservancy, a non-profit established in 1989 out of upstate New York was created to “preserve, share and celebrate America’s gardens and diverse gardening traditions for the education and inspiration of the public” according to their website, gardenconservancy.org. Membership is not required to participate in the garden tours during Open Days but if you choose to do so, there’s several benefits included such as discounts to garden tours, member-only invitations to events and lots of printed and digital gardening info you’ll receive.
With or without membership, this year you must buy tickets to the specific gardens you’d like to view in advance. Walk-in paid admission is not being offered this year due to COVID and attendance numbers will be limited this year, so I’d go online and buy your tickets now! Here’s the list of local gardens for your perusal and appreciation this year:
Saturday, July 10, 10am-4pm
Boggy Meadow Farm, Walpole, NH
The garden is planted on a small bluff above the Connecticut River. It is an informal garden, but it has elements of an older, more formal garden planted by Miss Fanny Mason more than 100 years ago. There are English borders, a grape arbor, and a small sunken garden with a narrow ravine down to a stream, distributed over three acres. On the Conservancy’s site, there is a slide show to give you a preview of the sprawling property with old stone, urns and free-flowing annuals and perennials.
Gordon & Mary Hayward’s Garden, Westminster West, VT
Gordon and Mary Hayward’s 1.5-acre garden surrounds their 220-year-old farmhouse in southeastern Vermont. Over the past 34 years, they have developed a hybrid of Old England and New England gardens to reflect Gordon’s growing up on an orchard in northwestern Connecticut and Mary’s growing up on a farm outside Chipping Campden in the North Cotswold Hills of England.
The garden, the subject of their book The Intimate Garden (WW Norton, 2005), is comprised of fourteen garden rooms. One area includes a pair of 90-foot perennial borders that terminate in a post-and-beam gazebo framing views of twenty acres of meadows. More than 40 planted terra-cotta pots and many garden ornaments, several from England, figure into the mood of this garden. Read and see more of the Hayward’s garden at www.haywardgardens.com.
Sunday, July 11, 10am-4pm
Skatutakee Farm, Hancock, NH
Garden owner’s description: My gardens surround Hancock’s first house, built in 1776 by the town clerk, Jonathan Bennett. Since it is a farmhouse, the plantings are informal and blend into surrounding woods and fields. On each side of the “front” door are raised beds reminiscent of colonial gardens. The real front door (never used) is flanked by plantings of old roses and lavender. Behind a 1970 wing is a 48-foot-long koi pond designed by landscape architect Diane McGuire and planted with lotus and water lilies. McGuire also laid out the perennial bed and woodland garden.
Thoron Gardens, Jaffrey, NH
The property includes a 230-year-old cottage/farmhouse renovated and surrounded by gardens, a view of Mount Monadnock, an eleven-acre wetland with beavers, an old/new orchard, mowed fields, and stone walls. Garden designers Gordon Hayward and Kristian Fenderson provided help and put up with owner’s strong ideas and vision, intermittently from 2006 to the present. Additional features include sixteen different gardens covering two acres: wetland, woodland, a formal/informal vegetable/cutting garden above a 40-foot perennial bed, roadside and driveway perennial borders, two formal boxwood gardens, a grove of river birch, 85 garden pots, climbing roses on the fence and trellis of the house, perennial curved lawn gardens, tall perennials adjacent to barn, a brick walkway, plus four small gardens and a kitchen garden adjacent to house.
Michael & Betsy Gordon, Peterborough, NH
This small garden in the village was designed by a plantsman to be an extension of the house. The house and garden are situated on a hill and the garden is terraced on three levels. The upper level was intended to be enjoyed from the street. The middle level is laid out formally, using yew hedges and a century-old granite wall foundation to create a garden room. The lowest level, an informal woodland garden, has shade-loving plants from North America and Asia. The garden was planted with a mixture of unusual trees, shrubs, perennials, grasses, annuals, and bulbs. Plants were selected primarily for interesting form, foliage, and texture. The garden is chronicled in the blog thegardenerseye.blogspot.com.