Garden Touring with the Back Mountain Bloomers

I love a good garden tour, and I’m nosy as well, so for the life of me I can’t figure out why it’s taken me so long to finally take advantage of the Back Mountain Bloomers bi-annual garden tour.  The Back Mountain Bloomers are a local gardening group and since 2003 they’ve been raising money for a “Rails to Trails” program with the proceeds from their tour.  There are displays, demonstrations, and most importantly open gardens!

back mountain bloomers garden tour

I can’t imagine how much work goes into getting a garden ready for a tour.  This one was immaculate and perfect, and it sounded like months of work went into getting the hardscape and plantings ready for the day.  I believe nearly all the work was done by the homeowners, which was even more impressive when you consider all the stonework in the backyard.

The gardens ranged from small lots to large, intimate gardens to professionally landscaped, and even a small farm.  I think it’s great such a range of gardeners opened their yards for a good cause.

back mountain bloomers garden tour

A yard for entertaining.  There’s sun and shade seating, lawn for activities, a pool to the left and a hot tub to the right.  I can easily picture a late night bonfire with kids and grandkids all over the place.

The tour was run like clockwork, with volunteers welcoming you at each home, giving a little background to each garden, pointing out the highlights, suggesting a route through the yard, and answering questions at the demonstration or information stands.  We didn’t expect to take up the whole day but between it all (and I admit we were kind of dawdlers) we just barely finished up the seventh garden at the 4:00 cutoff.

back mountain bloomers garden tour

A spacious yard with a house that opens up onto a patio, which blends right into the landscape.  The natural exposed bedrock was left as is and I think it makes a fantastic statement.

There were crowds at spots and at a few of the gardens the parking took a little patience, but that’s to be expected when 400 or so of your neighbors stop by for a look around the yard.

back mountain bloomers garden tour

I do like a nice stone ledge.

Of course there’s inspiration as well.  Gardens which consider space and repetition and enclosure make for wonderful touring and offer up ideas you can take with you,  but I’ll leave that to the more disciplined gardeners.  I myself would never be able to show such restraint in color or planting… mine is a collector mentality 🙂

back mountain bloomers garden tour

A colorful way to make a small slope interesting and relatively low maintenance.  I’m also a fan of the gravel, even though most people seem to want to go formal with concrete or stone.

Finished perfection is great but I prefer a garden with a few messes, with all kinds of things here and there and with projects started and gardens filling in.  The Dyers farm (a name we completely made up) felt like that kind of place.  The owner (or at least the one who gardened) was demonstrating her dyeing technique on the grounds of a small farm, complete with farmhouse, shaded porch, barns, outbuildings, gardens, and even a few paddocks filled with various animals.

back mountain bloomers garden tour

Natural wools in the various stages of processing, spinning, and dyeing.  The technique was being demonstrated and there was even a dye garden filled with the plants used to get this range of colors.

I can barely keep my lawn mowed, yet here was a whole manicured farmstead with animals to tend and gardens to nurture (and I’m sure protect, this is varmint country!)

back mountain bloomers garden tour

I love a silo.  Not everyone has a silo, plus look at that sky!  The weather was perfect for the tour.

I’ll spare you the many photos I took either of the silo, or the garden with silo as backdrop or silo photo bomb.  Kevin was with me on this trip and he’s always up for a good laugh, so of course the silo became the running joke of our day.

back mountain bloomers garden tour

A perfectly tended ‘mirror garden’ with both ends reflecting the same design and plantings.  Not too shabby, and this was only a part of the grounds and gardens.

The day wound down much faster than we expected, and to round it out we hit the lake.

back mountain bloomers garden tour

For this garden the plants take a back seat to the water view and the relatively new lake cottage.

This was a garden where the designer was in charge.  A swathe of blue hydrangeas backed up the house, and summer color filled the front, but the highlight was the upper deck which offered a panoramic view of the lake.

back mountain bloomers garden tour

Did I mention that in addition to demonstrations, each tour locale had a garden-party-ready table setting on display?  They did, and I’m sure most of them were put to good use at the end of this busy day.

We finished the tour a little off-lake at a quite, shaded wildlife garden filled with vegetables, shrubs, and flowers, and plenty of plants for the birds and bees.

back mountain bloomers garden tour

A no-lawn front yard with tapestry of plants coming together to cover the ground.  Probably not low maintenance, but surely more interesting than the mind-numbing routine of lawn mowing.

Although we were anxious to continue on to a well deserved sit down meal (with appropriate summer beverage of course) I still managed to go on (for likely too long) with the Audubon representative about my own wildlife and invasive plant joys and woes.  It was a nice way to wrap up the day and just like everyone else we spoke with, they seemed more than happy to listen to and answer any questions.

back mountain bloomers garden tour

Straw-bale gardening, where plants are grown directly in the decaying bale… but the real reason for this photo is to shame me into reconsidering how I grow my garlic.  It’s not nearly as healthy looking as these!

The outing was fun, the open gardens were great, but I learned two important things which I wasn’t entirely expecting.  The first is I enjoy balancing rocks.  If you have no idea what that means, give it a quick search or click >here< and it’s self explanatory.  It’s something I picked up at one of the demonstrations.  The second is a bit more serious.  As I visited garden after garden and saw what talented gardeners were putting together and enjoying plants, it made me realize that I might have a problem.  I could possibly have too many plants and have successfully been in denial by surrounding myself with other equally obsessed people.  I like those people… a lot… but are they just enabling me?  Could be, but I can’t think straight now.  I’ve got more to plant, and need to figure out where to fit a silo in!

Have a great weekend 🙂

10 comments on “Garden Touring with the Back Mountain Bloomers

  1. Almost 20 years ago we visited an architect in Vt. who had amazing balanced rock sculptures on his property. He created them all with stone found on his property and hand tools. No fancy equipmwnt or rebar holding things together. Unforgettable. You could showcase specimen plants on them! (Sorry, couldn’t resist).

    • bittster says:

      Hmmmm. I do have several larger rocks around the garden. In theory I could balance a few but my fear is them tumbling at some point.
      One thing I noticed is the balanced rocks form a high point, and the neighborhood robins put them to good use as perches. Eventually all of them would tip over from the robin’s takeoff. It was almost entertaining 🙂

  2. I am glad you mentioned nosy. Not many people are willing to admit it, but I believe it’s what makes those tours so appealing. I went on the Garden Conservancy’s Open Day in Syracuse this past June, and I think I also prefer gardens that aren’t so manicured. But how could you have your garden on a tour and not want to pull every weed and clean up the messes that have lingered for months, and finally fix the gate that doesn’t hang straight, etc? I hope you find a place in your garden for a balanced rock stack, well out of the way of stray soccer balls.

    • bittster says:

      I’ve found that the balanced rocks are very attractive to baseball bats and swinging sticks. Oh well.
      I just suffered through the process of spreading mulch and felt compelled to finish up many of the small projects which were yet unfinished. It nearly killed me but between the cleanup, new mulch, and well watered grass, the garden looks better than ever and I wish there was someone coming over for a tour.
      There are still spots unfinished, but for the most part…
      I think the reason the less-manicured look is more interesting is because it’s more like a garden and not just landscaping. For as much as I like my newly-mulched beds, the meadow and overgrown bed interiors are where the fun stuff is.

  3. Indie says:

    How fun! I can’t even imagine all the work that goes into getting those places show worthy either. I love the no-mow yard, and the less formal gardens. The swath of sedum on the hill with the planters is really striking, too. I am a collector, too, so I try to call my garden a ‘cottage-style’ one so that it works a little better 🙂 And what’s not to love about a silo?

    • bittster says:

      I think that just repeating one plant a few times really helps tie together what could be a jumble of collected plants. Either that or some hardscape… or just embrace the jumble! Amazing plants here and there would make me forgive just about any design shortcomings.
      -plus mine is a mess most of the time as well, and I just chalk that up to life in general being somewhat messy!

  4. Eliza Waters says:

    Bless these gardeners! I don’t think I could handle 400 people tramping through my yard, let alone have the whole yard looking decent on any one given day. Talk about stressful!
    That said, I do appreciate going on a garden tour to see what others are doing. A fun way to spend a beautiful day.

    • bittster says:

      I don’t know how they do it! There are so many different ways to handle tour day, and I’m certain many of them match specific personalities. Ignore everyone and stay inside is one option, lurk around in anonymity and eavesdrop on conversations is another, mingle and apologize for all the things you think you ought to have still gotten done, or just soak it all in are all options. To be honest I might be the one to lurk around and hear the uncensored opinions. I’d completely soak up any compliments, and completely brush off any criticism 🙂

  5. Lisa at Greenbow says:

    Nothing like a garden tour to satisfy your nosy nature, inspire and in some instances show you what you wouldn’t ever think of doing. I hope you get your silo.

    • bittster says:

      I don’t even know what a gardener can do with a silo other than admire it, and I don’t care! I want one! 🙂
      I did leave several of the gardens with new ideas. Even gardens which don’t match your style can offer plenty of good tips!

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