One of my favorite annual May in Montclair events — Roses to Rock Gardens — is organized by the Van Vleck House & Gardens to support the upkeep of its historic property and programs here in Montclair, NJ. This year, I toured with my friend Renita. We have different garden styles and our conversations are always fun as we each “see” different plants/arrangements/details at the same garden. This year was no different!
The window box (shown below) in this garden was stuffed with colorful shade-tolerant annuals, mostly coleus! They weren’t huge yet since our NJ spring has been slow to arrive. This homeowner caught Renita’s heart with all the birds she attracts to her property. I counted no less than five bird feeders and at least three bird baths. The homeowner has a regular bird spa going on in her backyard!
You know how every town has a home or three that are over-the-top huge and lovely? Well, Montclair, NJ has dozens of these stunning estates and homes. The photo below shows just a small portion of one of those homes’ back yards. This garden is a true park-like setting. The lawn, which goes on forever, is ringed by mature trees, shrubs and colorful perennials. The pool and pool house are tucked discreetly at the rear of the property behind a fence and some privacy landscaping.
Renita and I strolled through more than half a dozen perennial gardens, each with its own seating area. The arch in the photo below was my fave sitting area. Pea gravel underfoot provided a lovely crunching sound that reminded me of a classic English garden. And the view back towards the house? Stunning.
Some gardens are formal, stand-offish even. Others are professionally designed and maintained. Each lovely in their own way. And then? Then there are gardens who look and feel like their owners. One such garden was on the tour this year. We were greeted by the “muscle” husband in the front yard. Within moments two teen boys (extra “muscle?!”) joined him and listened to our conversation.
The yard is a hosta lover’s delight. But that isn’t all it offers. When we walked around the house and into the backyard we were greeted by the sounds of two water features — a rescued and refurbished (by the “muscle”) concrete fountain and a pond, complete with goldfish. Anyone who knows me knows that I love me a great fountain!
The homeowners are hands-on gardeners and project people, my favorite kind of folks. The yard’s perimeter plantings are imaginative and lush. The multi-tiered deck, which looks great for entertaining, is home to an inviting hot tub and decorated with lovely potted plants. The wife designs the gardens and the family pitches in to make them happen. We met (and chatted with) the gardener’s parents too! What a delightful garden, which reflects its homeowners!
Full disclosure: My garden was featured in the ???? Roses to Rock Gardens tour. I worked like a dog to prep the landscape and the weekend of the tour? It rained like a bugger. Disappointing, but…such is the life of a gardener!