Gardening News

Middlebury Garden Club names 2023 winners

KANDI COOK HELLER of New Haven

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 2023.

After the railroad tunnel project was completed last year, Middlebury’s downtown showed off rich and varied colors from the roundabout up  to the Congregational Church of Middlebury and St. Stephen’s Church, with the Sheldon Museum garden and multiple hanging baskets along Main Street.

KANDI COOK HELLER of New Haven

Director of Public Works Operations Bill Kernan oversees and coordinates the town’s efforts on the bridge and Koren Crane does the Main Street baskets, while Ben Anderson-Ray and the talented team at St. Stephen’s, along with the “Garden Gang” at the Congregational Church, have created a lovely approach to town.

A special shout out to Kandi Cook Heller of New Haven for her lush and varied garden, featuring Sweet William, lilac, poppies and stones. Kandi moved the garden in 2000 from an apartment and planted every tree on the property except for the arbor vitae in front of the house. She has rocks outlining the gardens and rock sculptures. Some rocks she has collected for years, mostly heart-shaped and striped, placed throughout the gardens. There are cedar archways and paths throughout, a peace sign-shaped rock garden, and a lilac meadow in the back. She has around 40 peonies, many lilacs on the property, with flowering fruit trees, some planted when they were the size of a pencil that are now 40 feet tall. The original tulips and daffodils were replaced with peonies, foxgloves and anemones, and forget-me-nots in between.

BETH HILL AND Charles King Jr. in Cornwall

In Cornwall, Beth Hill and Charles King, Jr. have a whimsical garden in addition to planted acreage, with a focus on plants that reflect the feeling of their mid-1800s farmhouse: a mix of perennials, annuals, fruits and vegetables with an eye towards feeding the pollinators, and small beds that entertain passersby. Their gardens have been in process for 10 years with something new added each year. Special plants have come from other homes, but they have moved, divided and reorganized them to create their gardens.

Down the road from Beth and Charles is the immaculately tended garden of Donn Marcus, changing with the seasons.

DONN MARCUS OF Cornwall

Much of what we see in Donn’s island bed was planted before he moved there 22 years ago, including daylilies, Solomon’s seal, and phlox. The mass planting of Siberian iris shows in spring. In summer flowering bulbs throughout the southern half of the bed and both deciduous shrubs (nine bark, Russian olive, dogwood, bridal wreath spirea) and evergreen shrubs (juniper) frame the back of the bed providing heft and vertical height. Spring brings ephemeral time (when these irises appear), peony time (lupines as well), rose time, and lily time. Each year brings varied conditions and threats, and the irises benefit from being situated on a slight downward slope that carries water the Champlain Valley receives into a trench running parallel to South Bingham Street.

LINDSAY HART IN Middlebury

On Chipman Hill in Middlebury one finds a study in contrasts. Lindsay Hart has been building her garden since she moved into her home. Her driveway is bordered with smoke trees and daylilies, along with container plantings and a lovely sitting area at the top of the driveway.  

Turning the corner up Springside, one finds a different take — formal landscaping at the corner home of Judy Albright and Dory Gorton. 

JUDY ALBRIGHT AND Dory Gorton in Middlebury

In East Middlebury, Linda and Howard Kelton have created gardens with Howard designing them and the couple choosing plants and shrubs from nurseries along with donations from their mothers, including perennial geraniums, bleeding hearts, lilies and peonies. They both tend the gardens, Howard mulching and edging and Linda weeding. They started the gardens around 40 years ago, eventually encircling the house and adding a vegetable garden.

LINDA AND HOWARD Kelton in East Middlebury

Commercial properties:  

Shiretown Market in downtown Middlebury has nice plantings.

Misty Knoll in New Haven, tended by landscaper Steve Santor, uses a more formal garden approach to attract customers.

Editor’s note: This story was provided by Beth Karnes Keefe.

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