Thursday, May 19, 2016

Beacon Hill Garden Tour

I love neighborhood tours - kitchen, garden, whatever.   It's sanctioned snooping, for crying out loud - what's not to like?  When that neighborhood is the very chi-chi Beacon Hill section of Boston, even better!  The Captain humored me by tagging along and being very helpful with his map skills.

The tour is hosted by the Beacon Hill Garden Club whose members  have to have a secret garden and agree to open it when needed for the tour.   The gardens are all the small walled -in  spaces of very old homes on Beacon Hill.  These spaces were originally designed for the not so chi-chi quotidian activities managed by the servants like  laundry, deliveries, and trash storage. The street level garden entries are often though narrow tunnels so the servants didn't schlep through the grand house while doing their jobs.

The gardens in these small spaces are almost all (at least the ones on this year's tour) minimalist in style .  Some have large trees or smaller trees espaliered  along a wall.   The gardens can also be reached through the living space, so many have tables set for  dining or relaxing.  Once inside these walled gardens it is hard to imagine the Boston busyness  outside.

 These are mostly shade gardens, given their high brick walls and surrounding tall brownstones, "full sun" isn't part of their vocabulary.

This garden in Mount Vernon Square was my favorite.  It's larger than most and owned by the only man in the garden club.   His style is more exuberant than some of the restrained, structured gardens, and the space allowed for huge trees and bushes.

He also has a sense of humor - When I told him I laughed at the pink flamingo hidden under a bush he said that he added a plant tag with the genus name to class it up since " the Garden Club ladies aren't fond of pink flamingos in the gardens".    Note that the tag also indicates that the flamingo does double duty as a snow gauge!

I love this sweet little vignette.  Oh, and the very best thing about this garden is that it smells like chocolate !  That brown mulch is crushed cocoa bean shells, and when the sun warms them  the garden smells like freshly baked brownies.

This neighborhood takes window box planting seriously with an annual competition for "best in show".   

Tiny spaces along the street side also get star garden treatment.

And let's not forget entryways.   What's not to love about Beacon Hill with its old buildings,  miles of brick, and understated, old-money elegance?

If you get a chance to go, wear comfy shoes.  Uneven brick walkways and cobblestones can be challenging, plus it's called Beacon HILL for a reason!   Lines are long when the tour opens, so plan on late morning/early afternoon so you don't spend too much time waiting in line.  

The tour is a great chance to explore the Beacon Hill area , sneak a peek into some gorgeous homes and gardens - oh, and maybe even enjoy a lovely lunch.

{Bin 26 Enoteca}

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