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Between the Rows

Between the Rows: Greenfield and Hawley Garden tours June 28

Next weekend will be filled with an embarrass-ment of garden riches. On Saturday, June 28, both the Greenfield Garden Club and the Sons and Daughters of Hawley will be hosting unique garden tours.

The Greenfield tour includes gardens where lawns have been removed, pollinators have been welcomed, fruit trees have been planted, perennials bloom lushly and water and sculpture create a beautiful space. There is also a special opportunity for those who have lots of ideas about how to use space. Becky George has moved into a new house that needs to have the landscape redesigned. She’ll be handing out site plans with requests for suggestions. If you hand in a site plan, your name will be entered in a drawing. The winner will receive two tickets to the Green River Festival July 12 &13.

The Greenfield tour will be held from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Tickets will be on sale at the Trap Plain Garden, at the junction of Federal and Silver streets, on Saturday morning. Tickets are $12 and come with a map and description of the nine gardens. Refreshments and surprises along the way. If it is pouring, the rain date is Sunday, June 29.

I visited one of the gardens on the tour last week and suddenly had an epiphany. This garden, on a small lot, revealed to me the way a spacious garden could be created in a limited space. This magic has been described in endless design instructions, but never in a way that I understood.

For me the revelation was not about planning the layout of sinuous paths, but first laying out full, lush layered beds that the paths would trace. You may think this is six of one, half dozen of the other type of situation, but for the first time, I came to a real understanding of how this can be done.

The garden is predominantly a shade garden, perfect for a hosta lover. I did note a Beware of Hostas sign on a little shed in the back corner of the garden. There are also nine beautiful Japanese maples. For sociability there is a gazebo and dining space.

There is very little lawn in this garden, only grass paths, some wide and some narrow, that reach around and beyond beds that are filled with trees, then shrubs and finally ground covers, including hostas. The garden is small but the gardener has chosen interesting trees including many conifers, tall and gracefully vertical, as well as low and mounding. There is so much variety of foliage form and color that my eyes lingered on each tableau before I was teased to walk around the next curve.

The garden is also a Certified Wildlife Habitat, which means that it supports birds and pollinators by supplying water, shelter and food in the form of nectar, pollen and berries. As our landscapes are more and more filled by roads, businesses and dense housing, these supportive landscapes become ever more necessary.

Those who go on the Hawley Tour will notice a sub-theme — stones. At 9 a.m., Bud Wobus, professor of geology at Williams College, will be at the field next to the Chickley River, at the junction of Pudding Hollow Road and Middle Road, to talk about the river rocks and Hawley’s long geological history. Wobus will visit other tour sites to talk about rock formations in those other locales. The garden part of the tour includes perennial gardens, fruit gardens and vegetable gardens, many making use of local stone. A lunch will also be served at one of the gardens from 12:30 to 2 p.m. The suggested donation for the tour is $10 and $12 for the lunch. For tickets, please contact: Pamela Shrimpton, 339-4091; Melanie Poudrier, 339-5347; or Lorraine McCarthy, 339-4903.

I visited Jane O’Connor’s large vegetable garden surrounded by a deep perennial garden with an assortment of herbs. Most of the vegetables are planted in raised beds that were installed two years ago. They were filled with compost from her own huge pile and have been very successful. Once the beds were set up, maintenance was easier, as predicted and planned.

Phil Keenan, O’Connor’s husband, is a cook, but O’Connor said the garden is hers. “This is my deal,” she said. “We eat organically out of the garden and are really conscious of what we eat. I cook from scratch and I can and freeze produce, as well as make preserves and pickles. I do it a little at a time.”

The garden includes 10 kinds of tomatoes, four kinds of onion, three types of potato, including sweet potato, plus squash, pumpkins, sugar snap and snow peas. Scarlet runner beans and Kentucky wonder beans clamber up trellises. There’s celery, garlic, strawberries and sunflowers. The variety is quite stunning.

O’Connor works at home, so when she needs a break, she goes out and works in the garden. Even if she wants to just sit and admire it, one little sitting area is surrounded by squash plants.

Because raised beds dry out more quickly, O’Connor has installed a good watering system. Fortunately, she has an excellent well. There is a touch of whimsy in this well-organized and productive vegetable garden. Solar lights abound, on stakes or wound around plant supports. Birds and fairies glow. “I’ll be out here at night and it is just beautiful.

After touring these beautiful gardens on Saturday, take a leisurely drive up to Heath and enjoy a stroll down the Rose Walk on Sunday afternoon. The Annual Rose Viewing is from 1 to 4 p.m. at the end of Knott Road. Lemonade and cookies in the Cottage Ornee. Hope you can join us.

Pat Leuchtman, who is The Recorder’s garden columnist, has been writing and gardening in Heath at End of the Road Farm since 1980. Readers can leave comments at her Web site: www.commonweeder.com.

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