Excursions: Tours de Force
This Saturday, two tours, one of The Hidden Gardens of Spencertown, the other of Litchfield houses, vie for our attention. Both will kick off with special patrons cocktail parties on Friday night.
Litchfield Open House Tour
The 61st Annual Litchfield Open House Tour, to benefit the Connecticut Junior Republic, features six private properties in Litchfield, ranging from the John Collins house (above), the oldest part of which dates from 1765, making it the oldest standing structure in the Borough of Litchfield, to Shanti Bhavan (Peaceful Palace), a fifteen-room, slate-roofed house said to be in the Anglo-Indian style, that was completed in 2004. Additional points of interest include a vineyard, several notable churches, an historic library building, and the Litchfield History Museum, as well as Brookside Farm II, a 1780s farmhouse with an 1820s barn on 30 acres, featuring a working sugarhouse and an antique tractor collection.
Preview tour and cocktail reception at Winvian, a Morris, CT historic house, turned Relais & Chateaux resort; Friday, July 11, from 5:30 - 7:30.
Tickets: $75/each; attendance is limited.
House tour: Saturday, July 12, 10 - 5
Tickets: $30.00/per person; infants/free; at the Information Booth on the Litchfield Green
Lunch: $6/at Connecticut Junior Republic, 11:30 - 2:30
The Hidden Gardens of Spencertown
For premium ticket holders, this garden tour, which benefits the Spencertown Academy, is preceded at 9 am by a lecture and slide show by the internationally renowned garden photographer Mick Hales—a rare opportunity to learn about gardens from someone with an artists’ eye who has spent a lifetime studying them; and also to gain insight into the considerable challenges of photographing them. Also on the Academy grounds: a specialty plant and antiques sale. Bob Hyland and Andrew Beckman, of Loomis Creek Nursery in Claverack, will be on hand to offer their distinctive array of plants, as well as expert advice. Joe Mondel of Spencertown’s J&C Antiques will present a variety of garden-themed pieces, ranging from botanical prints to planters. Properties on the subsequent tour range from an intimate cottage garden to an expansive landscape of perennials, 40 years in the making. At one stop. 100 varieties of daylilies are juxtraposed with a rushing stream. At another, native plants appear to ooze from the cracks of ancient rock outcroppings. Also included is a visit to Steepletop, the Austerlitz home of Edna St. Vincent Millay, whose “garden rooms,” designed by the poet between 1925 and 1939, are in the process of being restored. To some gardening enthusiasts, they now have reached a golden mean between perfection and decay and are unlikely to ever look so perfectly imperfect again.
Box lunches come with the “Gardener’s Packages” and will be served at the Oom’s Conservation area, a Columbia Land Conservancy property in Chatham. The pond-side picnic area has long views to the Catskills and is near several of the gardens on the tour.
Spencertown Academy Hidden Gardens Tour, Saturday, July 12
Route 203, Spencertown; 518.392.3693
Patrons/$100, includes cocktails, Friday, July 11, 7 - 9, and complete Gardener’s Package (below), Saturday, July 12
Gardener’s Package/$50, includes lecture at 9; plant and antiques sale 9 - 2 (both at the Academy) tour 10 - 2; box lunch at the Oom’s Conservation Area
Tour only/$25 10 - 2