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July 6, 2013

How their gardens grow

Local residents to host Garden Conservancy Open Day

In the ancient world of hunter-gatherers, it was thought that brought to light the useful wonders of animal domestication and crop cultivation. Thought power urged human beings to settle down, contemplate a plan, and manifest that which feeds the body. Although a societal revolution began, it didn’t happen overnight and it continues today. That same thought power has since advanced the wonder of gardening, also known to feed the soul. 

In the 14th century, Europeans would flee to country gardens to escape the plagues rampaging through their cities. These very gardens became more sophisticated over the centuries. With the advent of world travel, ships began transporting plants and ideas. Inevitably, the idea of gardening came to America in the minds of the pilgrims, and our nation eventually became ground for some very prestigious gardens.

To preserve some of these impressive historical gardens, the Garden Conservancy was established in the late 20th century. Membership fees and donations offer financial support for its mission. The Conservancy also developed a program called Open Days, which spreads the preservation message by providing access to some of the nation’s finest private gardens — including some right here in the local area. 

From 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday, visitors are welcome to tour four private gardens in Delaware County. Visitors can explore, at their leisure, the vast variety of approaches to gardening. Owners will share their expertise, much of it gained through hard work and experience. They will also answer questions in regard to the Garden Conservancy. 

Cynthia and Charles Bonnes’ garden at 265 Bussey Hollow Road in Andes involves major architectural gardening. 

“We bought the old farmstead in 1983 and began reconfiguring the landscape,” Charles Bonnes said. “There are two main focal points, both of which required excavation.” The first is a series of four ponds, layered down the hill in a southeast direction from the home. The first pond was built near the house and is now flush with mature white-flowered potentilla. A second pond was built above the first and became the anchor to a water drainage system plus the water supply to a fountain. The third and fourth ponds were built later and create a tiered look to the property. Each pond is surrounded by a fascinating mix of plant color and texture.

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