Friends of the Forbes Library Garden Tour

  • Cat in a tree with a rat sculptures, which will be on display at the upcoming Friends of the Forbes Library Garden Tour. Contributed photo

  • Forbes Library garden tour Contributed photo—

  • Forbes Library garden tour Contributed photo—

  • A flamingo statue in a peach tree. Contributed photo

  • Steve and Harriet Rogers in a Sun, Moon and Stars metal settee created at Cricket Forge in South Carolina, at the end of a busy day in the garden. Contributed photo

  • Pat Leuchtman Andy Castillo

Published: 6/3/2019 11:34:29 AM

The Friends of the Forbes Library’s Garden Tour annually ushers in the garden tour season in our part of the world.

The seven gardens on this year’s tour (I’m counting four neighboring community garden plots as one garden) offer many different styles and features that make each garden unique. 

I cannot say that I was surprised by the number of gardens that are filled with plants that will support our pollinators, from the bees and bats to butterflies and birds. We are all learning that we are in need of protecting and supporting those creatures that have been declining in numbers. Also, I am just now beginning to understand the many ways that plants are pollinated and the interrelatedness of plants and creatures. 

This year’s Forbes Library Garden Tour will feature gardens with wonderful and unusual trees, collections of sculptures, secret paths, vegetable gardens, and delicious places to sit and share a meal. Styles range from English cottage gardens to woodland gardens.

There is inspiration for everyone.

Recently, I was delighted to visit Steve and Harriet Rogers’ garden and laughed as I drove up and saw plastic pink flamingos marching around the house and garden. One flamingo even managed to get herself ensconced in the peach tree. She wasn’t alone. Other unexpected creatures managed to find a tree-hugging spot as well. 

I walked to the back of the garden toward a beautiful sun sculpture created by Al Davies on the garage wall, sharing space with a large and lush rhododendron. Fortunately, that rhodie did not suffer any of the winter kill that damaged so many.

Harriet invited me to sit with her in a whimsical metal settee in the shade of a silver birch tree. This is the Sun Garden on a rectangular plot between the Rogers’ house and their neighbors’ driveway. We had a good view of most the garden with its edibles and fancies. I was immediately taken by the fruit trees, two apples and a peach tree. They were artfully pruned, and, I thought, very sculptural. Harriet said the trees are very productive and they use most of the fruit themselves. She has a system for slicing apples and drying them overnight. She also uses a juicer to make cider. 

As we sat looking at the trees, the planting beds and the planting containers I soon became able to pick out the sculptures of suns, birds, a dog and other less definable constructions. Steve is a metalsmith. His work, along with other artists including Tom Torrens, Pat Simon, Bob Woo, and many others working in a variety of media, is on display in this amazing garden. Steve will have more work on display the day of the tour, including his paintings.

Harriet told me there wasn’t a lot of planning involved in their garden. There are strawberries and blueberries. The raspberries share space with the peas. Broccoli and peppers grow in containers. I was fascinated by the arrangement of a container set on top of another shiny (and slippery) container. “This arrangement is very important. The skunks and other creatures can’t climb up the slippery container to get inside the planted container,” Harriet said. In another area were radishes, bush beans, tomatoes, squash and arugula, an edible plant that re-seeds itself every year.

I was enchanted by the Tea Garden, which was filled with flowers. Now daffodils and tulips are in season, but it was the addition of tea pots and tea cups, sometimes on view and sometimes tucked away among the flowers, that gave it a special charm.

The narrow garden on the other side of the house is called the “Shade Garden.” Harriet’s mother passed away recently and Harriet brought many of her mother’s plants to the Shade Garden. Here in the quiet and cool, she pointed out lilies of the valley, columbine, trillium, and hellebores. This garden holds memories well as the delights of the spring garden.

The value and joy of the garden tours that will be held over the summer, in many communities, is the pleasure of talking to creative and knowledgeable gardeners who happily share their creativity and knowledge. It is all very well to read and learn from beautifully illustrated garden books, but there is nothing like seeing unusual plants, new-to-you arrangements, and picking up tips like put a plant container on top of another slippery container. I would never have thought of that by myself.

The 26th Forbes Library Garden Tour is scheduled for Saturday, June 8 from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Rain or shine. Tickets are available in advance for $15 and are available at Forbes Library, 20 West St., Bay State Perennial Farm, Cooper’s Corner, Hadley Garden Center, North Country Landscapes & Garden Center and State Street Fruit Store. Day of the tour: $20, at Forbes Library only.

Raffle display and tickets for sale at Forbes Library until June 8 and on the day of the tour, at one of the gardens. Raffle items include compost, gift certificates, landscape consultation & gardening supplies. Raffle: 2 tickets/$5, 5 tickets/$10, or 12 ticket/$20.  All proceeds fund books, equipment, and programs for Forbes Library.

Pat Leuchtman has been writing and gardening since 1980. Readers can leave comments at her website:

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