By Buffy Calvert
Halleluiah! The day of the Garden Tour dawns sunny. Thirteen Andes gardens to visit to benefit the library. I had invited some friends. We met at Lynn Witowski’s. She has a deep yard in the village and has surrounded her house with colorful borders dotted with Victorian planters and whimsical glass sculptures. And she has created outdoor rooms: a glider and chairs with bright cushions beside the house; between the house and barn an oriental rug under a glass table and bistro chairs; Adirondack chairs sit around a stone patio by a stand of Norway Spruce; and in the distance beyond a long row of peonies, we see an inviting set of upholstered lawn chairs by a copper fireplace.
The catch is, Lynn, a weekender, never sits. She digs and plants, fertilizes and waters, and dreams of new areas to cultivate. She invited us to see her house, a Victorian beauty glowing with what a later visitor called “Freda Kahlo colors,” but we had to drive off.
We churned up toward the three gardens on Dingle Hill. A long steep climb, sharp left into a driveway past a pond and through woods to come suddenly upon a picket fence slathered in flowering vines and a log house surrounded by gardens as exuberant as their designer, Carol Johnson. A long, low stonewall can barely contain the crowds of flowers on a terraced border. We turn from the lovely hills beyond the house to climb up to a wrap-around porch hung with overflowing baskets of geraniums, petunias, and cascades of brilliant blue lobelia. Buckets and washtubs full of flowers are artfully arranged to delight the eyes of those who cuddle on the couches and chairs set to catch sun or shade as the spirit moves.
Then up and up, over the mountain. Veering right on Ridge Road, we spot a flower stake marking Don and Vera Liddle’s. Vera gives us a big smile and eagerly leads us up past the 1885 farmhouse where she grew up to the many gardens they have created on the stone terraces her father built. One is devoted only to hostas, emerald and blue, striped and fluted, from huge to tiny rosettes. Hollyhocks, roses, and wild volunteers filled others.
Vera almost cooed as she led us down to the cool, dim, hay-strewn barn. As we stepped in, a long-eared head lifted over a stall at the far end and let out an earsplitting, prolonged bray, followed by “Hee haw! Hee haw!” Letting us know that he was the papa. His demure mate in the near pen lowered her head protectively over the back of her two-day-old foal—dark, diminutive, with enormous black eyes and full-grown black ears. Mama moved to the next stall and he danced after her. We were entranced.
Bob Lidsky and Bev Travis’ place is always a pleasure. The crescent-shaped stone walled gardens seem to cling to the steep hillside, threaded by a stone path that leads to a hilltop aerie. From the broad front veranda we gaze at the freeform pond and the hills beyond. Bev offers iced tea and cookies. We happily accept. ~