Last summer there was no Forbes Library Garden Tour. The Covid-19 pandemic threw all our expectations and schedules and plans up in the air. The special events in every season that promised excitements and camraderie were cut down to Zoom gatherings. But now, at last, we can again thank the Forbes Library for the beautiful Garden Tour with its many delights.
Six years ago Carrie N. Baker, who spends nine months of the year with classes and duties at Smith College, (even during the pandemic) moved to her first house. She had lived in nice houses on the Smith campus, but now she and her husband had their very own house and she gave me a delightful tour of her gardens.
Carrie never really had a garden of her own, but her father visited to help with her new garden space. “My Dad came up once a week and we worked together. He is a master weeder, and liked to weed methodically. He’d give me good advice. Then I would make him a really nice lunch. Of course he hasn’t come recently because of the Covid.”
“I don’t get a chance to work in the garden till the end of the semester. My theory is that I’ll work half an hour every day. I’ll work with what looks most needed. I’m not perfect. I’m an amateur. I have a busy life, but I love beautiful plants – beautiful flowers. And I love always having something in bloom.”
Carrie told me she was very fortunate because the previous owner had designed the garden in back of the house. Now she had responsibility for the small garden space in front of the house as well as some of the corners. Her friend Gaby Immerman helped with the front space.
The first problem with that space was the sandy and rocky soil. Even grass did not grow well. With Gaby’s help they supplemented the soil and began to plant perennials and shrubs. She also planted a river birch, a red cutleaf Japanese maple. Though the space is quite small Goshen stone is used on the pathways. and creates a welcoming stroll.
An array of shrubs including young hydrangeas, and a Calycanthus, Carolina allspice, with its deep plummy red flowers are in bloom. There were several golden Aesclepius tuberosas (also known as butterfly weed) blooming along the path. Carrie and I noticed that there were new butterfly weed plants coming up here and there. I realized that was to be expected because even these pretty little plants have seed pods that will explode and plant themselves all around.
As we walked through the front garden I was taken by some ornaments on the porch floor.
Carrie has many talents and last year she went to Snow Farm to take a weekend of welding classes. This Sun is special because she made it herself. Can you tell what ordinary items she used to create The Sun? Or the creature? Other ornaments she made are spread around the garden, along with other pretty ornaments.
Having enjoyed all the flowers in front of the house Carrie took me along to the approach to the back garden. We passed several wonderful tree peonies. They had finished blooming but Carrie said they are stunning flowers. Large shrubs like Clethra, summersweet with long pink flowers, encase the back of the house and wrap around the corner. “I open the kitchen windows and there is just a wonderful fragrance,” Carrie said.
Because of a voracious groundhog under the backyard shed Carrie had to give up her vegetable garden. Now she has an herb garden with lots of lemon balm, chives and other herbs and flowers. There is even a wood raised bed for lettuces. “It’s quirky – a work in progress,” she said. I admired the wonderfully fragrant lavender plant. I rarely see lavender in home gardens.
We continued to the back of the house. The handsome tool shed that has been made special by the flower boxes and the bright red chairs. The previous owner loved hostas and used many varieties that keep things looking lively. The back garden itself is calm and grassy. The encircling trees and shrubs keep the gardens shady and cool a good part of the day. This is a serene and welcoming space.
We come around to the patio. Saint Francis a gift from Carrie’s grandmother.
The Buddha sits quietly next to Saint Francis, a gift from a dear friend. The solar light makes a beautiful golden light in the evening. I loved this spot, and can imagine spending quiet time here. Serenity.
There is a lot more to enjoy in this lovely garden – and you can see it all on July 17. See Garden Tour information below.
Tickets for the Forbes Library Garden Tour – July 17, 2021 – 10am – 3pm
Option 1: Online ticket purchase/reservation ($15/person) through July 15. Then pick up your pre-paid tickets at Forbes Library only on tour day, July 17th, 9:30 a.m. -1:30 p.m.
Option 2: In-person pay and pick up ticket at Forbes Library, Cooper’s Corner, State Street Fruit Store, Bay State Perennial Farm and Gardener’s Supply at Hadley Garden Center. $15/person through July 16.
Option 3: Day of tour, tickets only available in-person, pay and pick up at Forbes Library at $20/person as long as our supply lasts.
There are also 8 fabulous Raffle items. LOTS of gifts in each one. For more information – https://forbeslibrary.org/friends/events/garden-tour/