Garden club highlights roadside attractions

ADDISON COUNTY — The Middlebury Garden Club has announced the winners of its annual “Roadside Attractions Awards.” These accolades recognize gardens cultivated by people around the county who are not members of the club.
The theme for all these gardens is that they can be enjoyed from the road while passing by in a car or on foot.
The four winners include Nat Fraioli and the garden she grows on Grimes Road in Lincoln, Elizabeth Ready’s garden at the foot of Forge Hill in Lincoln, Sadie’s Garden at Hospice Volunteer Services in the Marble Works in Middlebury, and the three “public” gardens at three establishments at the end of Main Street in Middlebury.
At the end of Main Street in Middlebury is a “trifecta” of gardens for the delight of passing traffic at the roundabout. At 86 Main is the Otter Creek Bakery garden (designed by owner Sarah Wood and her husband, Ben), where a selection of flowers, herbs and vegetables spill and climb over raised wooden boxes to screen customers seated behind. Kale, sweet potato vines and chives combine with orange nasturtium to act as a living privacy screen for customers enjoying coffee with pastries or eating lunch.
Next door at 88 Main is the simple but elegant front garden of the Vermont Folklife Center. It shows off a progression of peonies, tall grasses, and two varieties of hydrangea — arborescens “Annabelle” and paniculata “Unique.” The “lawn” is a delightful blanket of soft, creeping thyme. During the earlier part of the season we all get to see nepeta, poppies, and iris “Caesar’s Brother.” This garden is designed and tended by Joan Lynch of The Inner Garden in Middlebury.
Proceeding down Main Street is Two Brothers Tavern, where the owners have planted a buffer of pots and hanging baskets filled with pink and white petunias mixed with a breezy red annual grass.
Sadie’s Garden at Hospice Volunteer Services presents a tranquil getaway in the Marble Works. On a beautiful summer day the small, picketed space shows off a sun garden with a large marble slab for lounging, a shade garden under the old linden trees, and a water garden with a planned solar fountain to entertain. The gardens are casually woven together with a meandering stone path and hundreds of perennials every step of the way, holding something special year-round. It has been planted to showcase quince, tulips and bleeding heart in the spring; coreopsis, balloon flowers, daisies and cone flowers in the summer; sweet rose of Sharon, hydrangea and anemones in the fall; and wonderful snow-covered birdhouses and evergreen holly bushes in the winter. The garden is the result and vision of Shirley Ryan, who lovingly calls it her after-school project, as she creates and cares for Sadie’s Garden. If you have not discovered this beautiful spot, come and sit a spell — to relax, read a book, visit with dear friends, have lunch, or just enjoy all that is there.
Nat Fraioli can be found in her garden very early in the morning, most mornings during the season, tending at least a hundred different kinds of annuals and perennials, many of which can be seen from Grimes Road in Lincoln. She has created pebbled paths that wander through varieties of hosta, coral bells, goat’s beard, hydrangea, cimicifuga, ligularia, ferns, foxglove, lily of the valley and astilbe. The sunny end of her property showcases almost every country favorite, including perennial poppies, coreopsis, lupine and monarda. There is a small vegetable plot behind a stone wall from which she stocks her freezer for the winter. At the end of this plot is an antique weathervane overflowing with clematis “Henryi.”
Elizabeth Ready can sometimes be found in the sun, reading at a little café table in her garden on Forge Hill, under a swag of Tibetan prayer flags and surrounded by an endless array of color outside her front door. She loves to draw birds, moths, bees and butterflies to the garden with peony, iris, bee balm, sunflowers, Asiatic lilies, daylilies, dahlia, roses, gladiola, poppies and herbs including mint. One thing she has been doing for a few years that guarantees good soil is releasing earthworms she gets from the Lincoln General Store.

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