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The 2014 Garden Tour

We welcomed spring surrounded by lovely gardens, immersed in appealing gardening ideas.
We enjoyed a day with people who love gardening and gardens as much as we do.
The Society arranged, on Sunday, June 8th, to make available to the community an exciting collection of six local gardens.  These gardens, each with a different theme, were chosen for their unique qualities and to provide an interesting cross section of the plantings and designs available in the area.
The gardeners were all available at each of the sites to discuss their plants and plans.
Thank you to our Sponsors who have made this Garden Tour possible.

The 2014 Gardens

1.  Cottage on the Cove        

Joe longed for a home on the water.  Karen, with her passion for gardening, was in need of more sun.  In 2000 they found a small cottage for sale in Wincoma that had been uninhabited for several years, was neglected, but was their first and only choice.
     The prior owner was a Harvard grad of landscape architecture and had once tended the garden with care but now the grounds and the house were encased in English ivy.    As Karen and Joe cut back the ivy, they found a brick patio, a meandering wall and many shrubs. They removed bittersweet, honeysuckle and poison ivy by hand and on the lower level they cleared a forest of black locust trees.  Once each area of the property was cleared the gardens were designed around existing trees and shrubs. With much transplanting, they created the feel of a well-established garden.
    Karen is a garden designer with over 20 years of experience. Her designs include selections of shrubs and perennial groundcovers, a theme repeated throughout this property.  A natural garden that enhances the sloping terrain and water view was the ultimate goal.
    Hurricane Sandy brought down a double trunked 70 foot tall oak, damaged two retaining walls and the fence.  The damaged gate overlooking the harbor is a reminder.
    This garden is a labor of love.  Joe has carefully built the walls and has recycled the former patio stone to add stone details on the property.  The wall at the bottom of the back staircase shows his creative flair.
 Karen uses well-worn garden ornaments to maintain the charm of the older home and grounds.  With no outside help they have created a beautiful setting for this small cottage on the cove.

2.  Through the Postern Gate     

     In 1976, my wife and I moved from a four-room apartment into a twenty-room colonial home, completed in 1933.  When we came here, the grounds were extremely overgrown.  It took four years of intensive work, to clear the property before we could plan the landscape.  Since the house is formal, and large, we decided on an estate look in front and an English garden in the Italianate style in back.  Over the next thirty four years, the grounds and associated hardscape have evolved to what you see today.
    As you enter the driveway through an allée of Japanese dogwoods, pass to the left of the Japanese threadleaf maple.  The front door is flanked by a spreading English yew and a Japanese dwarf white pine.  Ahead, is the stylized moongate to the Zen garden, which will be seen later.  Left of the gate is an impressive stand of double-file viburnums and two large hollies.  The tree opposite the front door is an American yellowwood.
    You will enter the back garden through the postern gate, passing under a pergola supporting a trumpet vine.  The small tree ahead is Franklinia, named for Benjamin Franklin in the 1770’s.  The major courtyard is a fifty-foot circle, created by the removal of sixteen ten-wheel dump trucks full of soil, and the construction of the wall with 2,000 concrete blocks and 14,000 bricks.  The delicate trees are crepe myrtles.  Pass the screened porch, turn left to the Zen garden, our most recent addition. 
    Turn around and walk up the viburnum tunnel to the English flower border, the shade garden and” Cryptomeria Walk.” When you are ready, exit the gardens through the large gate in the fence to the right of the shade garden.
    This garden is our labor of love and our joy.  It continues to be an outlet for creativity and is a work in progress.

3.  Poolside Garden

    As you drive north on West Neck Road, past the Lloyd Harbor Police Station, You will find 2 Banbury Lane on the left.  You will walk up the hill to a home in a wooded setting and a garden twenty years in the making.  Peonies and roses line the driveway but twenty years ago the property was nothing but debris and overgrowth.  Now there are many specimen plantings that make for a magnificent setting and a home that reflects the efforts and vision of the owner.
    Around the pool you will see boxwood, roses, hydrangea, viburnum and a weeping cherry.  Fountains and birdbaths give the feel of an English garden while the mahogany pergola with essential cooling fans and lights and an award-winning Jacuzzi are spectacular modern features of this summer outdoor entertainment area.
    As you continue your stroll you will find an unexpected hidden garden with a working fountain outside the basement entrance.  You will enjoy the circular rock garden and plantings of annuals and perennials that make this garden visit a memorable delight.

4.  Diverse Natural Garden

    This large, long-established garden welcomes guests to many growing conditions. Wet, dry, sandy, marsh, full sun and shade are the various challenges to the homeowner, a talented gardener
    Natural gardening, with a diverse plant population, catches your eye as you wander through the property.  The entrance from Hawthorne Court is delineated by mixed borders of hydrangea, spirea and azalea, a variety of astillbe, fern, hostas, and Solomon Seal.   The garden flows to the left of the house down a short flight of steps past dogwoods and hydrangeas.  A sweeping lawn appears punctuated with specimen trees edged with azaleas, Siberian iris and natural woodland.  Next to the house is a swimming pool.  Outside the pool fence is a garden with red twig dogwood, black pussy willow and dwarf crape myrtle and abelia.  Down the grassy slope lies a pond fronted by a grove of bamboo.  An old tree surrounded by a bench gives shade to the visitor who wishes take in this tranquil setting.
    Moving around to the other side of the house, one encounters a large lawn boarded by natural gardens that blend the untamed wetlands with the more manicured layouts closer to the house.  Up near the side of the home you’ll view a variety of hostas of all sizes.  Lady’s mantle flourish in the damp soil.  Harry Lauders Walking Stick, creeping pussy willow, dwarf rhododendron and azalea flank either side of the steps.  Look up to see the white flowers on the underside of the Japanese Snowball tree.
    Just last month, three 100- foot white pines, originally planted by the homeowner’s father in 1950, were removed.  Gardeners are constantly developing their gardens, and this bare, newly sunny area now presents the next challenge.
    This ever evolving property is full of delightful surprises in plantings, colors and textures that blend in to the natural wetlands.

5.  Visions and Views

"Perfection is attained not when there is nothing more to add,
but when there’s nothing left to take away."

Antoine de Saint-Exupery                

     In 1983, when my wife and I first entered our house, we gazed out the back bay window and witnessed a wilderness of outsized perennials and overgrown yews.  The vegetation blanketed nearly everything and the yews stood like massive immoveable green boulders.  Fortunately, Linda saw past all of this and recognized the potential that was hidden beneath this unkempt property.
    If a weed is a plant that is not valued where it is growing, then Linda and I spent the first few years getting rid of a lot of weeds.  As it turns out, the yews not only looked like boulders, but also proved to be nearly as difficult to remove.  Gradually, however, the garden revealed itself.  The first year we discovered a hidden stone wall behind the pool.  A season later we unearthed a path beside the barn that lead to a natural stone fireplace.   Over the years, as we peeled away layers of undisciplined growth, the garden took shape and flourished.  
    Linda attended to the plants and shrubs while hardscape became my passion.   We have had the able and invaluable assistance of a Master Gardener and, together, the three of us have created the sanctuary that Linda saw in her mind’s eye thirty-one years ago. We think of our garden as another living space that exists outside of the four walls of our home and it has been, and remains, a source of pleasure and comfort.

6.  On the Mill Pond

    When we moved into our house on Mill Pond in 1987, the landscaping consisted of some very nice trees and extremely over-grown, oddly shaped yews.  There wasn't a flower in sight.  Back then the only thing I knew how to grow was impatiens.  I knew nothing about gardening, but I started taking classes at the New York Botanical Garden and quickly became obsessed.  
    At first I planted hydrangeas everywhere--they seemed to look good with the house--then lots of boxwood, grasses, hostas, day lilies, roses and just about every perennial imaginable. I also developed a love of unusual annuals and as a result, I wound up starting Willow Garden Design, a business that specializes in container gardens.  I like to mix perennials, annuals and succulents in containers.  I have pots all over the property.  I used to have a lot of perennial beds, but the maintenance was overwhelming so I scaled back.  A well-placed container in a bed is sometimes all the color you need for impact, plus it's a lot easier to maintain.   For years I have been trying to grow lavender but it always seemed to die.  I accidentally discovered that it flourishes planted in drive- way gravel as long as it gets enough water.  Now I have it growing in a gravel bed that runs along the bottom level of the backyard close to the pond. It seems very happy there.  
    You are welcome to come to our Victorian home and to enjoy the water view as you stroll about the garden with its beautiful planters and fanciful surprises.  You may rest for a while with a cool drink and some sweet confections and you are invited to the patio to browse our Garden Boutique’s offerings of plants, gift certificates and unexpected treasures.

Ticket Sales at Kissam
1.  Garden on the Cove
2.  Through the Postern Gate
3.  Poolside Garden
4.  Diverse Natural Garden
5.  Visions and Views
6.  On the Mill Pond
Refreshments and Boutique