The Forbes Library Garden Tour is this Saturday, an opportunity to see unique private gardens.
If you are lucky retirement from the everyday world of work is an opportunity to make happy changes, and possibly even make a dream come true. This opportunity has been beautifully and artfully used by Paul Redstone, and Jesse and Jack Martin. They both gave up country homes and properties and moved to ‘the city,’ Northampton, where they now live next to each other. They all love to garden, treasure their friendship, and have very different approaches to making a garden.
I spoke to Redstone while sitting on his deck listening to the falling water in his water garden. I could see cattails and water lilies, but he said the water garden was really all about the music of the moving water falling over the stone. His wife passed away ten years ago and when he moved to town about six years ago he thought it was time to make his dream of a musical water feature come true. With the encouragement of a friend he did some renovations on his new house so he could have room for a printmaking studio, and finally built the water garden he had longed for.
I asked if this was a house where he could age in place. He laughed. “I didn’t think of it at the time, but I guess it is. The kitchen is now more efficient and I have a bedroom on the ground floor. The water garden is sited where I can see it from the bedroom.”
He designed the stone water garden on a rise, with various sections that provide music, a home for three koi and occasional frogs and bogs for breathtaking lotuses. It is surrounded by irises and a delightful carpet of ground covers. While he needed help to build the stone infrastructure, he is completely responsible for all the plantings.
His main goal in the garden is to eliminate lawn. The sunny front yard has a variety of groundcovers including bearberry and cotoneaster. Gorgeous irises were beginning to bloom the day I visited. One of the stunning shrubs is a calycanthus with its wine-red blossoms.
The garden around the water garden holds a broad range of plants, raspberries and thornless blackberries from Nourse Farm, and plum trees, arborvitae, hollyhocks and wonderful native plants from Tripple Brook Nursery. He said he doesn’t make elaborate plans but “gardens according to my whims. If something doesn’t work out it is easy to send it off.”
Jesse and Jack Martin
Jesse and Jack Martin live right next door. While they have very different styles, they spend a lot of time strolling through each others’ gardens and swapping notes.
Jesse and Jack left Beckett to look for a gentler climate that would make life a bit easier, but also provide more scope for their garden plans. In Northampton they have found a community rich in cultural opportunities, and a warmer climate.
Unlike Redstone, they like lawn and have a lush greensward in front of the house leading to a handsome shrub border that continues around the side of the house. Lilacs are pruned every three years or so, removing trunks that are more than a thumb width, keeping them vital and strongly blooming. A turn into the back garden is around a wisteria covered arbor they built themselves to provide a seating area in the shade.
They removed the 50 foot tall hemlocks that separated them from their backyard neighbor. “Those trees were so wide they took up half the yard,” Jesse said. Now there are slimmer Emerald Green and American arborvitae providing privacy and a background for the perennial border which also holds several birdhouses and a bird bath. The Martins welcome the birds and provide for their needs. “The cardinals and robins love the straw mulch. It is so much fun to watch them tossing the straw and searching for seeds.”
“We like the idea of textures – The upright blooms of the irises, and the fluffiness of the poppies.” Jesse said. The peonies were heavily budded. “We aim for a progression of bloom, but actually early summer has the most flowers.”
I was amazed by the large Harry Lauder Walking Stick. I have only seen this as a small shrub but it was beautiful as a small tree. Another particularly important small tree in the garden is the intensely fragrant witch hazel that blooms in February, right next to the hot tub. “
As we strolled through the garden Jack and Jesse couldn’t help pulling a weed or two. They said they wandered through the garden every day, admiring and weeding. After the tour we sat in the shade of the screened porch. “The whole purpose of the garden is to have something beautiful to look at during that first cup of coffee, or in the afternoon. We often invite Paul over,” Jack said.
The Redstone and Martin Gardens are two of the eight unique and inspiring gardens on this 23rd self guided Forbes Library Garden Tour, on Saturday, June 11 from 10 am to 3 pm, rain or shine. Advance $15 tickets are available at Forbes Library, Baystate Perennial Center, Cooper’s Corner, Hadley Garden Center, North Country Landscaping and Garden Center and State Street Market. On the day of the Tour tickets are only available at the Forbes Library for $20. There will also be a raffle that for compost, a landscape consultation and garden supplies. All proceeds benefit the Friends of the Forbes Library, funding programs, events and projects.
Between the Rows June 4, 2016