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Garden Tour:  Conservancy Open Days Begin on Saturday

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Secret woodland garden at Broccoli Hall photographed by Jennifer May

Saturday marks the beginning of the Open Days Garden Conservancy Tour season, with some of our region’s most exceptional gardens open to the public. (We will keep you informed of tours of other properties on Open Days throughout the growing season.)  Saturday’s itinerary has us poking our noses into seven far-flung gardens within a six-hour period.  Clearly, it’s too much for one day, so one must strategize and make some painful choices.  And then there’s the matter of lunch: even gardening fanatics must eat.  We offer some suggestions for lunch on the run. 
 
Columbia County
 

Steepletop
East Hill Road, Austerlitz

Rural Intelligence Home and Garden
In 1925, the poet Edna St. Vincent Millay began creating a series of outdoor rooms using existing stone foundations—“the ruins,” as she called the remains of the ancient farm she owned in Austerlitz. In good weather, Millay gardened daily, creating over time walled rose gardens, a rock and iris garden, an outdoor bar, a spring-fed woodland swimming pool (left), a wildflower garden, and a kitchen garden. These are in the midst of being restored with the help of the Conservancy’s Preservation Center program.  At this point hundreds of bulbs should be in bloom, including the remains of the Narcissus poeticus planted in 1927-28 by Millay. Her ring garden of peonies should be showing brilliant color as well.

 
Hudson Bush Farm
154 Yates Road, Greenport

Hudson Bush Farm has appeared by name on maps of Columbia County since 1790 at least.  The formal gardens surrounding the eighteenth-century house include color-themed parterres, a double red border, a rock garden, a long walk leading to a summerhouse, a small pool, a vegetable garden, a greenhouse, and a potting shed.  These features are spread over three acres that is surrounded by old-growth woods.

 
Shale Hill
120 Underhill Road, Hillsdale

Rural Intelligence Home and Garden
Since 1999, Douglas Hunt has gardened at the aptly named Shale Hill.  Following a design created by Sara Stein, Hunt’s half-acre now includes shade plantings near the house, a cottage-style border and a classic clipped-box herb garden.  One hillside is planted with more than seventy hybrid Rosa rugosa, another is covered with hay-scented fern. A path lined, in season, with day lilies leads to a rustic arbor, where there is an an impressive view of the Taconic Hills.

 
Dutchess County
 
Broccoli Hall
23 Flint Hill Road, Amenia

Rural Intelligence Home and Garden
Visitors to Broccoli Hall use words like “incredible,” “inspirational,” and “magical” to describe this English-style cottage garden.  Starting in 1986 with an acre and a half of bare earth, Maxine Paetro collaborated with horticulturist Tim Steinhoff to create a series of enchanting garden rooms. Broccoli Hall now features an apple tunnel, a brick courtyard, a lavish display of spring bulbs blooming along with crabapples in May, a tree house with long views, and a secret woodland garden with a teddy bears’ picnic (see the large photograph at top).  The garden in May is a magical. White-and-pink daffodils abound, crabapples bloom overhead, and the woodland gardens are filled with trillium and other native wildflowers. 
 
 
 
Mead Farm House Garden
224 Perry’s Corners Road, Amenia

On the site of a 250-year-old farmyard, this mature garden winds around a structure that is a fair approximation of a nineteenth-century horse barn.  Rocky outcroppings and the stone foundations of long-gone farm buildings anchor perennial beds. The base of an old silo has become a deck from which one can gaze over a small pond at the distant landscape. Features include a bog garden, and some interesting trees, including a sizeable Japanese umbrella pine planted about 1966.

 
Litchfield County
 

Robin Magowan and Juliet Mattila
24 Taconic Road, Salisbury

Located on the remains of a windswept nineteenth-century farm facing Barack Mountain, this witty garden is full of surprises.  In May, the main interest is the extensive alpine rock garden that, by then, should be at its floriferous peak.  It contains several thousand plants from around the world. The saxifrage-lined, moss-covered outcrop a few feet from poet-and-memoirist Magowan’s writer’s studio gives rise to a sloping boulder garden, creating the illusion of a series of alpine meadows.  Tapestry-like, the “weave” is, in some sections, intense—twenty to thirty different plants within a few inches. Directly in front of the studio is a ledge garden dominated by the tiny waving plumes of Androsace lactea and A. latifolia.  There, in the sun, a garden of self-contained cushion plants grows in a rich scree soil mixture. A refurbished wall provides the opportunity for are two steeply angled crevice gardens, featuring plants that cascade. At the base of the second of these are two more gardens.  One, in shade, features tiny woodland plants and alpines that favor north-facing slopes; the other, is devoted to sun-loving Turkish and Rocky Mountain plants. There is also a small woodland garden and a stepped garden for acid-loving gentians and their like. Toward the house are a heather garden, perennial beds, and, in back, a paved outdoor room with pergolas, featuring peonies and roses, as well as more alpine plants set between the paving stones.
 
Hollister House
300 Nettleton Hollow Road, Washington

Rural Intelligence Home and Garden
The garden of George Schoellkop is old-fashioned and rambling, informally planted with an exuberant abundance of both common and exotic plants in subtle, and sometimes surprising, color combinations. High walls and hedges divide separate rooms and open to create interesting vistas out towards the landscape. New areas are currently under construction.  (This garden is open only from 10 to noon.)
 

Admission, $5 at each property, may be paid at the door.  For directions, maps, and further information, visit the Garden Conservancy website.
 
Best Quick Bites
 
Between Austerlitz and Dutchess/Litchfield

Dad’s Copake Diner
Bright and immaculate, Dad serves “the usual” only here it tastes a little better than, well, usual.
Main Street (Route 7A just off Route 22), Copake; 518.329.3237

Hillsdale County Diner
No surprises. The salads aren’t bad; the cole slaw is. 
Route 22 (just south of Route 23), Hillsdale; 518.325.9230
 
Between Greenport and Amenia

Taghkanic Diner
The patty melt with a side of sweet potato fries will get you through the day and then some.
Route 82 just west of the Taconic State Parkway.
 
Between Amenia and Salisbury

On the Run
Breakfast is the specialty of this deli that opens at 5:30 AM but they also make overstuffed sandwiches that you can eat at picnic tables out front.
Beware: it closes at 1 PM on Saturdays
4 Ethan Allen Street (near the intersection of Route 44 and 112), Lakeville; 860.435.2007

County Bistro
One of the few places where you can find interesting salads such as curried chicken and carrots with sesame ginger dressing.  If you have time to sit,
there’s waitress service under the umbrella tables on two patios.
10 Academy Street (just off Route 44) Salisbury; 860.435.9420
 
Between Salisbury and Washington

The Wandering Moose Cafe
The quintessential country coffee shop, which means your patience may be tested if you’re in a hurry; if you’re not, the picture book setting will calm your nerves.
421 Sharon Goshen Turnpike (next to the Covered Bridge), West Cornwall; 860.672.0178
 
Between Washington and Amenia

Panini Cafe & Gelateria
First-rate sandwiches and ice cream just off Kent’s main drag with outdoor seating.
7 Old Barn Road, Kent; 860.927.5083

Stroble’s Bakery
Soups and salads are easy to grab and go at this Kent landmark that has
tables on the front patio.
14 N. Main Street, Kent 860.927.4073

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Posted by Marilyn Bethany on 05/13/08 at 03:23 AM • Permalink