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Out & About: Explore ‘secret’ gardens in Waits River Valley

  • Corinth resident Wendy Wieland-Alter's garden is one of many that is part of the annual Blake Memorial Library Secret Gardens Tour. (Courtesy photograph)



Valley News Correspondent
Monday, June 24, 2019

A vineyard with a great view, a commercial market garden and indoor murals by a 19th-century itinerant artist are all featured on this year’s Blake Memorial Library Secret Gardens Tour.

The tour, which is a benefit for the East Corinth library, takes place from noon-5 p.m. on Saturday.

Visitors will have a chance to check out five Waits River Valley-area gardens and ask questions of their owners.

The library will provide tea and refreshments throughout the event, as well as brochures with maps of participating locations, which otherwise may not be so easy to find in the backwoods.

Advance tickets for the Secret Gardens Tour are available for $20 at Blake Memorial Library at 676 Village Road, in East Corinth. Same-day tickets are $25 (under 18 free).

“We call it the Secret Gardens Tour because they are secret gardens,” explained Lisa Locke, one of the tour’s organizers. “Many are at the ends of dirt roads. You don’t expect to find anything so beautiful at the end of this rutted trail.”

As in past years, the event showcases a number of lovingly tended perennial gardens, but this year, it also includes a few unusual stops.

One such participant is Montview Vineyard in Corinth, which harvests more than 3 tons of red and white grapes per year, specializing in varieties bred to withstand the severe cold. The vineyard produces several wines; a tasting is included in the visit.

Another stop on the tour, Moon Castle Farm in East Topsham, grows cut flowers and specialty vegetables for farmers markets in Hanover, Lebanon and St. Johnsbury. 

Art history buffs won’t want to miss the Greek Revival-style Elwin Chase House in East Topsham, built around 1815 and listed on the National Register of Historic Places. In addition to their gardens, the owners are offering a chance to see murals painted by an unknown itinerant artist in the Rufus Porter style sometime around 1835. The artist decorated several rooms and stairwells.

The two traditional perennial gardens on the tour include one with a frog pond and another located on the site of a former blacksmith shop, “which explains why we keep turning up old square-cut handmade nails, spikes, snaffle bits, etc.,” according to a written description provided by the owners.

Because gardeners tend to be constantly experimenting, fine tuning and moving plants around, participants in the Secret Garden Tour are lined up a year in advance so they can plan for their gardens to look their best on the tour date, Locke said.

“It involves a lot of preparation,” Locke said. “They’re not going to be tearing things up beforehand.”

Editor’s note: The event takes place rain or shine. For more information, call 802-439-5338.