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Open Days Garden Tours

The final weeks of the Open Days program of The Garden Conservancy are in September and October. I always find inspiration visiting the private gardens of top-notch gardeners and garden designers in my area.

Last weekend I visited the home of Margaret Roach, "A Way To Garden" blogger and former editorial director for Martha Stewart. Margaret opens her gardens three times a season through the Open Days program, and the day I visited she was graciously greeting each and every guest.


Her gardens reflect her love of plants. They're filled with uncommon plants such as leather leaf viburnum, metasequoia, larch, and interesting combinations such as reddish-purple barberry with bright green geraniums as a groundcover. I loved her artfully planted large containers tucked in spaces all around her house and clustered in a group at the entrance to her driveway like a welcome party.


Another of my favorite gardens is the Hyland/Wente Garden in Millerton, N.Y. It is one of the few where the owners invite visitors to walk through the house as well as the garden. The property sits atop a hill, and I've had the pleasure of seeing the gardens mature over the years, having visited twice over a 5-year span of time. I love the field of tall purple verbena with butterflies dancing across it that leads you up to the front entrance of the house. Verbena is an annual in northern climates, but it easily reseeds itself, ensuring the continuation of this natural garden.


Stonecrop Gardens in Cold Spring, N.Y., is part of the Open Days program, but it is a public garden so it is open at other times as well. It belonged to Frank Cabot, founder of The Garden Conservancy, who died in 2011. It's a great place to pick up alpine and succulent plants and soil mixes suitable for growing them. It's a breathtaking garden to walk through, full of water features and stones.


Coming up on October 13th is The Brine Garden Open Day in my hometown of Pawling, N.Y. It is a favorite local garden and a great example of naturalistic landscape design. Duncan and Julia Brine have created a 6-acre garden that feels so ephemeral only nature could have imagined it. Even hardscape elements in the garden, like my favorite—the slanting "Bridge to Brother’s Island"—appear to have been whimsically crafted by nature alone.


For a schedule of remaining Open Days garden visits, visit the Open Days website:


Dorian Winslow is the president of Womanswork, and is passionate about making the best products on the market for women who garden and work outdoors.

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