Sycamore Hill Garden Tour- Fall

A couple of times a year our neighbors down the street open their gardens to the public to benefit our local nature center Baltimore Woods. I have been attending with Junebug (my mom) on Mother’s day since The Bean was tiny enough to fit into a Baby Bjorn. This is the first time that I have visited the gardens in the Fall.

George and Karen Hanford have created a local treasure in our community. While the gardens are covered in tulips during the Mother’s day tour, the conifers, hydrangeas, ornamental grasses and hostas were the stars at this time of the year. Unfortunately the deciduous trees have not turned yet. That will be breathtaking I’m sure.

So join me for some beauty and inspiration. You won’t be disappointed!

There were many hydrangeas (Pee Gee and Tardiva) blooming and the butterflies were abundant.

Isn’t she beautiful? I love the weeping Norway Spruce next to her repeating her downcast posture.

Don’t we all need some wild boars in the garden?

The bridge to the Koi Pond.

Love this pathway through the pond. It is always a huge hit with the kids on Mother’s Day.

Junebug and I thought these guys looks like a gathering of hooded monks.

The stone from this castle in progress came from the old Jamesville Penitentiary .

The entrance to the Aborvitae Maze.

One of the many beautiful bronzes that grace the property.

Aren’t these Morning Light grass hedges great? They remind me of two giant fuzzy catepillars!

The children’s garden.

Oak alley – a series of English Oaks.

One of the things that I love about this garden is the use of conifers. Although there is nothing blooming in this photograph, the contrasting colors, textures and sizes of the plant material with the natural stone creates a varied, pleasing serene landscape.

One of my favorite sculptures.

Me and the lady who started it all… my love of gardening, that is. Junebug. It began when I was a little girl planting petunias next to her in the red soil of Mississippi. Most of the perennials in my garden now began as off shoots from her beautiful garden in Pittsford, NY. Whenever we get together for a visit, we take our strolls around each others garden discussing what has changed and of course what needs to be done because it is never finished.  From her I inherited the terrible sickness that I refer to as Gottahavethatplant-itis. It’s when you would rather have a new plant than a new pair of shoes! Gasp! It’s true. Where is the doctor? : )

On with the tour…

There are many gongs and bells hanging throughout the gardens.

For more information on Sycamore Hill Gardens please visit their website

The Gardens of Ballyduff Manor

pho_3932_pho_photoWhile staying at Ballyduff Manor in Thomastown Co. Kilkenny in Ireland last summer Farmboy and I found the most wonderful secret. A gorgeous private garden out beyond the old stable and barn.


Farmboy went out early to explore the grounds the morning that we were leaving for Dublin. After a few minutes he came in and insisted that I come… forget the lipstick. Sorry DH Holmes Jr. Board in Mississippi wherein I learned I was not completely dressed until I was wearing lipstick. Oh, if they could see me now… practically naked. Nevertheless… we went trapezing out into the dewy morning and to my delight I saw a most beautiful sight. A lovingly trimmed boxwood hedge parterre. Behind it there were sheets blowing in the morning breeze strung between the apple trees. Heavenly. Established. Quaint yet of substance. Personal and intimate. I loved it. The parterre was surrounded by a perennial bed and path on one side, an old greenhouse on another, the high wall of the barnyard on the other. The fourth side opened onto to a beautiful grassy lawn framed by corner plantings then surrounded by a fence.





During our traditional Irish breakfast in a formal coral painted dining room over looking the River Nore, we spoke with the charming owner, Brede, about the origins of the garden. It was designed by her mother-in-law who spent most of her waking hours tending it. The garden used to be 4 times the size but over time it had been downsized to aid with the upkeep.  I would have loved to have seen it in is glory! Wouldn’t you?!  A wedding was to take place the following weekend in the garden and I could just picture the giant reception tent on the grassy lawn next to the parterre and fruit trees. Lucky bride. For a lovely B & B stay in the country be sure to visit

Heart Knot


Hi, I’m Michelle. I am an artist/designer specializing in unique topiary themed art for the Home & Gardener. I live on a farm in Upstate New York with my husband, two children and a small petting zoo of other family members. #shapeyoursweetestlife



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