Flower lovers can take in a kaleidoscope of color on June 14 when the Westport Historical Society hosts its 24th annual Hidden Garden Tour. This year's edition will feature seven carefully landscaped and planted gardens, including one in neighboring Southport that is also the only cut flower farm in Fairfield County.
Tour day will also see a Garden Market sprout on the WHS lawn from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Homegrown and homemade specialty items from local cottage businesses will be available to shoppers. Admission to the Garden Market is free.
Three of the hidden gardens are on or just off North Avenue in the Coleytown section of Westport. Another, with grounds in a "lush English country style," "a shady grotto" and "ancient, majestic and mature specimens throughout, stands atop Old Hill, and yet another, aptly named "Tidebrook," sits beside a tidal stream.
Still another, dubbed "Rosebrook Gardens," boasts elements of an English garden "infused by the owner's travels to a West Coast rainforest, the Italian countryside and Versailles."
Rose gardens will be near their peak, and beds of lush New Dawns and David Austins will be the main attractions at two of the homes. Another, owned by a doctor who served with the U.S. military in Japan, is planted with bonsaied Japanese maple, cherry and weeping redbuds, and ornamental pines and broad leafed evergreens.
One of the Coleytown properties is described as a sloping wooded lot with lovely old stone walls, a pool, lawn sculptures and a fern walk along a pond, all on a landscape designed by Frank Geiger, founder of the Westport lawn and garden firm.
But the real stars of the show are the flowers: drifts of white daisies and frothy, chartreuse lady's mantle, borders backstopped by spires of white aruncus and false astilbe, pink lupines and purple salvias, globes of purple allium, pink and white peonies and clumps of pink astrantia. The names alone are beautiful and inviting.
Westport was once an onion growing center, so it is fitting that one of the tour homes occupies a former onion farm. The setting is essentially woodland in character and notable for its many weeping trees. In early June, azaleas and rhododendrons paint the landscape with swaths of pink, yellow and orange.
Special features at some of the gardens include: ring toss, tea and granola tastings, Qi gong moving meditation demonstrations, and music by the Windflower Flutes ensemble.
"Hidden Garden Tour," Sunday, June 14, 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Tour tickets are $45 members, $55 non-members, $60 day of tour. Garden Party tickets are $60 for both members and non-members. Combo tickets are $90 members, $100 non-members, $110 day of tour. Tickets can be purchased online at westporthistory.org, by calling 203-222-1424, or dropping by WHS at 25 Avery Place across from Town Hall. Tickets and directions will be available for pick-up at WHS on the day of the tour starting at 10 a.m.
For those who prefer to peddle to the petals, the WHS has mapped out a bicycle route for the tour. Guests can also enter a drawing at WHS headquarters or at the Garden Party to win a new bicycle with basket and a subscription to flower arrangements from the Southport cut flower farm.
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