Gardening News

Middlebury Garden Club spotlights local gardens


Every year the Middlebury Garden Club gives awards to public and private gardens in Addison County. To be considered, a garden must be able to be seen from the roadside and cannot belong to a current member of the club. 

The club recently announced its awards for the summer of 2022 as nominated by Tawnya Kiernan and Barbara Blodgett.

The first public garden given an award this year is The Butterfly Garden in front of the Yellow House at the corner of High Street and Seminary Street in Middlebury. The Yellow House provides 24/7 care for adults with developmental disabilities who are unable to live independently. 


When asked about the garden, Director of Resident Experience Hillary Warren said, “The Yellow House Community butterfly garden is the joyful result of sunshine, rain, fun work and community collaboration! This summer, Yellow House Friends and their sidekicks worked together to start seeds in our new greenhouse. Our monarch butterfly wings are the outcome of a collaboration between Yellow House Friends and local artist Erin Bettencourt. We had hoped the resulting corner butterfly garden made our neighbors feel happy, or possibly increased our likelihood of receiving “honks” when trucks drive by. Our corner is a busy one, especially these days with the nearby construction, and we are happy to hear that our Butterfly Garden is making people smile. If you drive by and we’re all outside, give us a ‘honk” and wave! Our friends are going to feel so proud and excited to hear this news!”

The next public garden(s) given an award are the Businesses of Vergennes along Main Street/Route 22A. As you walk along Main Street, you are greeted by many individual gardens in front of the local businesses as well as beautiful hanging baskets created by Kelly Sweeney. Each business took the responsibility to design, acquire plant material, plant and maintain the garden near or in front of their business. The garden with the yellow bicycle in front of Linda’s Apparel is done by Cheryl Shea. 

All of these Vergennes business gardens are all unique, well-maintained and beautiful. One in particular — a new one this year — stood out. It is on the corner of Main and Green streets, directly in front of Lulu Ice Cream. This garden is larger than the others and no one felt they could easily create and maintain it. So Dawn Wagner, new owner of Daily Chocolate, stepped forward. She applied for and received a grant from Greenworks, the Vermont Nursery and Landscape Association. Dawn designed the garden with a “river of rocks” running through it. Ashley Robinson helped her with the design. The plant material and the stones were paid for by the grant. Dawn maintains it now and will replace the annual and perennial flowers, as necessary, each year.


The garden in the roundabout of the Helen Porter Rehabilitation and Nursing Center in Middlebury also earned an award this year. It is absolutely beautiful and so well maintained. The garden was the vision of a relative of one of the residents. The garden was prepared and planted professionally, using many perennials such as hydrangeas, rudbeckia, blue salvias and others. Then annuals were generously placed on the border of the garden as well as on surrounding land facing the garden. The vision for this garden was “Where flowers bloom, so does hope” as quoted from Lady Bird Johnson. The residents at Helen Porter delight in getting their pictures taken while standing in front of the garden.



In addition to the awards given to the public gardens, awards are being given to a number of private gardens. 

Diane Neuse’s home on Seminary Street Extension in Middlebury has a unique garden in the front of her house. It is surrounded by a historical ironwork design from an estate that Diane visited in Washington, D.C. Diane took photos of the ironwork at the estate and then well-known local artist John Baker, who owns Wildflower Ironworks in Addison, was able to replicate it. 

The garden was designed by Colby Hill Landscaping to be interesting during all seasons of the year. It is a perfectly symmetrical garden. Since plants grow at different paces, it is challenging to maintain the design. The plants in the garden are all white and include hostas, white baptisia, annual grasses, cimicifuga, Miss America white peonies and hakonechloa grasses. 

The garden is centered on an antique urn. In the winter, Diane likes to fill it with random evergreen branches and decorate it with tiny lights.


Mike and Beth Davis, who live on Route 74 in Shoreham, have a lovely garden that you can see while driving by. 

“We have dabbled in ornamental and edible gardens for as long as we’ve owned houses, but this is probably our most ambitious effort yet,” Mike says. “This particular garden was established about three years ago, but was preceded by an orchard and vegetable/fruit garden on the north side of our house. Gardening is also a full partnership between Beth and I, both getting involved in every aspect of our ornamentals, fruit and veggies. 

“We rely on a few key resources for plant selections and ideas on how to include them in a planting,” he continued. “We live in Shoreham and Golden Russet Farm is just a few minutes drive from home. And then there are experts like Charlie Nardozzi, whose knowledge is available through a variety of sources. If you need help, it is not hard to find. Also, Beth has started a diary of observations and events in the garden so we can capture any longer term trends that we need to respond to.” 

Kristine Myrick Andrews has lived at 642 Smead Road in Salisbury for 20 years and has been working on her garden surrounding her house, which was built in 1820-1840, for all of those years. When she arrived, there were only a few lilac trees there. Kris’s gardens surrounding her house have apple and pear trees as well as raised beds with many vegetables including garlic, sugar snap peas, four kinds of tomatoes, broccoli, peppers, zucchini, onions, winter squash and potatoes. The majority of her garden is in shade and is fairly wet from the water draining off of the ledge behind her house.

By her own admission, it can be challenging; however, her soil is wonderful loam and not the clay that most Addison County gardeners need to deal with. She has many hydrangeas with wonderful names — Bobo, Strawberry Vanilla, Little Lime, Pinkie Winkie and Quickfire. The gardens that can be seen from the road are best described as cottage gardens, in which she grows zinnias, amaranth, cleome, marigolds and beautiful dahlias and orienpet lilies. When looking over Kris’s gardens you can’t help but see her beautiful catalpa tree, also known as the cigar tree. 


While her garden is large and keeps her busy, Kris’s daytime job is as a professional gardener. She works with her daughter in many gardens throughout the county. And, if that is not enough, she is renowned for the beautiful rattan baskets she makes and sells all over New England.

“Emina’s Garden” is a favorite of Barbara’s, perfect for a roadside garden award. Dzavid and Emina Mahmuljin moved to 22 Terrace Heights in Weybridge in 2016. Their property has evolved over the years into the beautiful space it is today, and as a neighbor Barbara has had the pleasure of watching it grow. 


Dzavid and Emina have somehow found the time, despite busy work lives, to completely change their yard’s purpose to one of providing beauty as well as food. They have transformed unused space in their backyard into garden patches full of delicious fruits and vegetables for themselves and for sharing with lucky neighbors and friends. 

“My car slows every time I drive by to see what is new in the garden-a new bed, the vegetable garden expanded, a new tree growing in the hedgerow, perennials and bulbs planted, the fruit trees ripe with fruit,” Barbara says. “Above all, I look for the red dahlias from Bosnia. First I spot where Dzavid has planted them and then I wait with the rest of our neighbors for the day they bloom, a stunning deep red you can’t stop admiring. On my most recent visit to let them know about their garden award, we finished our garden tour, and in their true spirit of generosity I left with my hands full of delicious ripe plums fresh from the tree to share with my family, thankful for the lovely neighbors we have.”

A beautiful garden has sprung out of the earth at 3340 Quaker Village Road in Weybridge and is deserving of another of our roadside awards. This is a garden created by Emily Van Mistri and her family. Emily began planting her beautiful garden in June 2017. Their new property was a blank slate without any previous landscaping to interfere with a new garden design. Without a strict idea of how she wanted to fill her space and feeling somewhat daunted by the task, she began planting bit by bit, letting the garden inform her what came next. 

Emily took me to a circular garden where she placed the first plants with a group of friends. 

“This is where it all began,” she said. 

Emily wandered with me through her garden, down paths and through arbors, telling me the story of the garden and which plants she loved and how much joy and peace she felt in her garden. Pollinators flitted about in the sunshine as we strolled. Emily has created a spectacular garden, an oasis filled with nooks and paths to discover and places to sit and rest (though she agrees she never sits for long before she is up and tending her garden again). Emily smiles as she reveals her future garden plans and ideas. She is always thinking about what comes next in the garden. I drove away from my spontaneous garden tour feeling uplifted and full of gratitude for the shared time in Emily’s garden.

Congratulations to all of the 2022 Middlebury Garden Club winners!

To learn more about the garden club, visit

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