By Amy Krzanik
Photo by Lisa Vollmer
You often hear the phrase “This year’s event will be the best one yet!” and think to yourself, “Well, they have to say that, so people will go.” But this year’s Lenox Garden Club tour
of five rarely seen Great Barrington properties is not one of those times. Not only will it be the best the Club has ever had, says co-planner Hilary Deely, it’ll be completely different than the tours of past years in many ways. The houses, the gardens, even the way you’ll get around to each of the sites — you won’t need your car — will be new for this year’s tour on Saturday, July 15.
The main event will be Blue Stone Manor, the home of Dorinda Medley from the TV show The Real Housewives of New York (RHONY)
. Several downstairs rooms of Blue Stone Manor, which you may have seen on TV and in Berkshire Living Magazine
, will be open to the public, as well as the rose garden and pool terrace. This classic “Berkshire Cottage,” built in 1902, takes its name from the stone walls constructed by Dorinda’s grandfather. Word is that Dorinda herself will be there.
Another property combines several large antique barns into a home that visitors can tour, along with native stone walks, vegetable and perennial gardens, and a large patio that takes in views of the Green River. In keeping with its barn roots, the property includes a vegetable garden, horses and chickens.
A third home, which has appeared on the cover of UK Home & Garden
, boasts perennial, pond, pool, cutting and wetland gardens along with an outdoor sleeping pavilion.
Photo by Lisa Vollmer
A LEED-certified house that incorporates a number of ecological systems, is also on the tour, along with its perennial and meditation gardens, majestic trees and mountain views. Sited on a foundation from the 1700s, the owners have made use of many of the components of the original farmhouse.
Rounding out the tour is a home, designed by the owners and once featured in Veranda Magazine
, filled with classical art and sculpture, with an enclosed garden of clipped hedges, rill, pool and mountain views outside. Deely is a big fan of this garden, calling it “my idea of a fantastic jewel of a place.”
The Lenox Garden Club has been around since 1911. When Deely joined in 1989, she and fellow new member Debbie Douglas put the first tour together in 1991. “It was an instant success,” says Deely. The club’s garden tours have been sited in almost every town in Berkshire County. The tours are held biannually, but, Deely says, nothing is going to top this year. Besides the amazing homes and gardens, this year’s tour will be even easier on visitors. “You drive to Simon’s Rock and hop on a nice little shuttle bus with a hostess who’s going to tell you about each property.”
Sixty dollars will get you the full tour, and $40 more will get you lunch at Wyantenuck Country Club. Just hop on the bus at Bard College at Simon’s Rock, hop off at each home, spend as much time at each garden as you like, and then hop back on. Tickets are selling fast though, and there's a cap. The one home with unlimited tickets? Dorinda Medley's – $60 will get you access to her home even if the regular tour sells out.
And you can be sure your tour fee is going to a good cause, right here in our region. Since 1991, the club has raised and donated $450,000 which they’ve kept in the Berkshires, sponsoring the Pleasant Valley Bird Sanctuary, supporting the purchase of Bartholomew's Cobble, restoring Lilac Park and providing it with an endowment, donating toward the renovation of Naumkeag's Chinese Garden, giving to Berkshire Botanical Garden so they can build a classroom for kids, and more.
Deely credits the Club’s success to its 85 members, dynamic women with strategic minds. “This is something I’m so proud of,” she says, “of what a difference it’s made in Berkshire County.”
Lenox Garden Club House & Garden Tour
Saturday, July 15
Tickets (limited amount left): $60, add $40 for lunch
Dorinda Medley's Blue Stone Manor tickets (unlimited): $60