Watershed’s garden tour set June 8

   The Stony Brook-Millstone Watershed Association will sponsor its annual Garden Tour on Saturday, June 8, from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. This year’s self-guided tour features gardens in Belle Mead, Rocky Hill and Blawenburg.
   Unlike previous tours, this year’s tour spotlights a variety of more informal country gardens, all designed and nurtured by their gardeners. One is filled with native and heirloom species, another organic, and several have ponds.
   Tickets for this self-guided tour can be reserved in advance or purchased the day of the event at any of the six gardens on the tour. The cost is $25, which includes refreshments served at one of the sites.
   Proceeds from the Garden Tour benefit the Association’s environmental efforts throughout the region.
   This year the Watershed Association is also holding a raffle of an antique stone birdbath. The $5 raffle tickets are on sale with garden tickets through the association or on the day of the tour, when it will be exhibited at the Koplik Garden. The bird bath was donated by The Nest in the Tomato Factory, Hopewell.
   Varied and unique properties have been chosen for this special tour.
   ‡ Once an active homestead, Sunnyside Farm in Belle Mead is quiet now, an oasis midst burgeoning land development. Hedges of multi-colored hibiscus, burning bush, holly, forsythias and yews run perpendicular to both ends of a privet hedge that fronts the property. Within these confines can be seen a diverse composite of stately trees, stands of evergreens, shrubs, postage stamp gardens, and a gracious magnolia. A patio pond teems with fish and unusually large frogs and is surrounded by perennials and pocket of annuals.
   ‡ The Fenwyk house and yard developed in Belle Mead in 1963 with 1-1/2 acres of well cared-for lawn with many oak and American Holly trees planted by the owner. A backyard swimming pool is surrounded by roses and spring bulbs. Garden benches situated to enjoy the perennial gardens and shade of this peaceful, private yard where birds abound, including bluebirds. An armillary and sundial are featured in the garden. Statues of St. Francis and birdbaths are in view. The front and side of the property include many rhododendrons. In 1992, a lovely sunroom for indoor plants was added to the house with a deck to view the gardens.
   ‡ The Lucas Hoagland House Garden on Griggstown Road in Belle Mead, begun in 1982 by the present gardeners, was then just old trees and some lilacs. Now there are benches for taking in the views, a collection of old farm and garden tools, and a four-ton pet rock to contemplate. The fringe tree allee leads to an all-season garden that frames the circa 1816 farmhouse and its outbuildings. Native plants are used in a design that follows the vagaries of the once cow pasture and farmland.
   ‡ The Rocky Hill property of Andrew and Pamela Wagner comprises 2-1/2 acres, evolving since 1965 into four unique gardens. The English country garden. enclosed for deer protection, features beds of mixed vegetables, herbs, perennials and annuals. The back garden is bird-oriented, with a small fish pool that lures 60 species to plantings of boxwood, mountain laurel, ferns and a magnificent green cut-leaf Japanese maple. A 50-foot Ilex hedge backs the side garden, laid out in an arc. The woodland garden blooms with 30,000 daffodils, February through April.
   ‡ Located in back of an early 19th century house on Route 518 in Blawenburg, the Hartshornes’ small cottage garden is set off by an arbor and fencing of cedar and osage vines and a hedge on the east. Low stone walls define the garden area. Established about 20 years ago, it has always been primarily a perennial flower garden, highlighted by annuals. Overlooking the garden are towering Norway spruce and sugar maple trees.
   Iced tea, lemonade and cookies will be served beginning at 1 p.m. at the home of Larry Koplik.
   For more information, contact the Stony Brook-Millstone Watershed Association at (609) 737-3735.