A visitor on the Franklin Land Trust Farm and Garden Tour last weekend noted that one of the benefits of local garden tours is they allow us to see what lies hidden behind the beautiful flower beds, fields and forests: creativity, art, industry, history, and strong community. On the weekend of July 9, all of these elements will be in full view as the artisans, conservationists, and creative gardeners of Hawley, Colrain and Greenfield open their worlds to the public.
The Hawley Artisan’s and Garden Tour is scheduled for Saturday, July 9 from 10 a.m. until 4 p.m. I visited Jerry and Trina Sternstein’s garden, known for its hundreds of rhododendrons, and collections of peonies and lilacs that bloom in the spring, but Jerry is an enthusiastic and skillful cook so it is no surprise that he has a beautiful and productive vegetable garden with well organized blueberries and raspberries. He is able to grow hard to find vegetables like fava beans, or his favorite kinds of tomatoes like ‘Donna.’
Trina works with Jerry in the garden, but she also takes inspiration from the rural landscapes and ever-changing skies, capturing them in her finely worked paintings.
A unique tour site is the ‘Energy Garden’ tended by Lark and Beth Thwing. The green they are looking for is the green they can put in their wallets, and the green that benefits our planet. They have installed a solar hot water system, photovoltaics, a wood boiler, a passive solar porch and a heat recovery ventilation system. This is a chance for visitors to learn about some energy saving conservation measures.
Lunch ($12) will be served at The Grove, opposite the East Hawley Meeting House, where a display of Ashfield stone birdbaths and other items will be on display. For more information or to order tickets ($10) call Cyndie Stetson, 339-4231. Tickets will also be available the day of the tour at the Stetson house, 108 West Hawley Road.
Colrain is celebrating its 250th anniversary with months of events including the whole weekend, Saturday and Sunday, July 9 and 10, filled with free tours of 16 family farms and gardens. A map and information about the various sites is online at www.colrainma.com.
It should be noted that some sites are only open at certain stated times. The Colrain Seed Farm which grows rare and heirloom seeds will be open only Sunday from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. and a Mushroom Walk will set off from the Colrain Central School on Sunday at 1 p.m. and end at 3:30 p.m.
Foxbrook Iris Farm on Call Road will be open on Saturday and Sunday from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.. Deborah Wheeler and her son Andrew will show off the fields of iris. Right now the Japanese iris are blooming.
I stopped to visit Cynthia Herbert and Bob Ramirez at Keldaby Farm with its flock of angora goats. Bob is the farmer, and Cynthia the artist spinning, dying and weaving the angora wool into beautiful shawls, scarves. throws and other items. Visitors will be able to see her looms and her gorgeous creations. Their farm is open both days from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.. The two magnificent box elders in the garden are worth the trip.
Practically next door to Keldaby Farm is The Old Barrel Shop where Tony Palumbo and Mike Collins have created a series of beautiful gardens, at the same time that they have operated The Green Emporium. Their gardens will be open on Saturday from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. and on Sunday from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m.
The West County Winery on North Catamount Road has been added to the tour, but it is not on the map. It will be open to visitors on Saturday, July 9 from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.
Nine private gardens in Greenfield will be on the Greenfield Garden Club’s 19th self guided tour on Saturday, July 9 from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Some of Greenfield’s finest gardens are included each year on the tour. This year’s tour includes a variety of annual and perennial gardens, vegetable and herb gardens and even a worm composting display.
I finally found out what lies beyond the elegant lions on High Street. Joyce and Steven Lanciani bought this property from the Lyon family six years ago. Since then they have taken down trees, put up fences, weeded a small woodland, and laid out a stone stream in a shade garden.
Because the gardens are at the top of a steep hill they are invisible to those passing by, but there is enormous variety in what is still an in-town lot. Joyce says now that she is retired she is teetering on the fine line between garden passion and obsession.
“There were good bones in the garden,” Joyce said, “but there was a lot of clearing out work to do.”
They have trimmed an arborvitae hedge in a curving manner to give it interest, and added a pergola by the slightly enlarged perennial borders. The power and beauty of simplicity is a lesson I have to learn again and again; it is made clear in the use of repetition of a row of hemlocks underplanted with hostas.
Tickets ($12) will be on sale the day of the tour from 9 a.m. to 1p.m. at the Trap Plain club garden on the corner of Silver and Federal Streets in Greenfield. All proceeds from the tour go to community service projects including grants for area schools.
Between the Rows July 2, 2011