Feast of Flowers tour in Hollis on June 21

HOLLIS – The Colonial Garden Club of Hollis will hold a tour of eight unique area gardens on Saturday, June 21 from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. with this year’s theme as “A Feast of Flowers.”

The public is invited to enjoy the displays and each homeowner’s individual approach to garden design. The tour will be held rain or shine.

With its beautiful scenic views and rolling hills, this is the second time Suzie Greco’s garden will be included in the tour. She has lived in her Pepperell, Mass., home for 17 years, and has spent a lot of effort getting things just so. She didn’t know much about gardening when she moved in, but took classes at Tower Hill Botanical Gardens in Boylston, Mass., to learn, and gradually her garden took shape.

Greco replaced concrete walkways with granite and bluestone. By her estimate, 100 tons of rocks were brought in or moved to create the stone walls. The front of the house has a water fountain and a bench. Out back is a pergola, with a view of conservation land.

“I have many botanic gardens here, and all-season plantings,” she said. “There isn’t a season that goes bare.”

There are berry gardens – blueberries, black raspberries, and blackberries – with stonework all around. A dry stream bed solves some of her water problems, complete with bog plants and a little bridge.

“I have a rare magnolia and stunning camellia flowers,” she said of her Japanese style garden. Among her personal favorites are the conifers she gets from Oregon and Washington state.

“The new growth on the conifers is yellow or red,” Greco explained. “People don’t know about it, and you only see it once a year for a couple of weeks before it turns green, but it is stunning.”

Another garden featured on the tour is Laura Kozel’s at 15 Oakwood Drive, with its hardscape and shade gardens. Her property is located on the side of a hill, and features a long series of walls and plantings.

“We just moved here three years ago, and inherited a beautiful garden from the previous owner,” Kozel said. She previously lived in Boston, where she had a plot in a community rooftop garden with full sun.

“Now I have a lot more yard, and am trying to make it low maintenance, with less weeding,” she said. “I’m trying to fill in the open ground and hope people on the tour can give me some advice.”

In her vegetable garden, Kozel grows tomatoes and tomatillos – perfect for making salsa verde. She also grows herbs, especially spearmint for summer cocktails like mojitos and iced tea.

While visiting Kozel’s gardens, be on the lookout for hidden treasures. Her brother enjoys welding, so there are various whimsical metal creations, such as fish, snakes and flying pigs in unexpected places.

Held once every five years, the garden tour is a major fundraiser for the club. Proceeds from the tour are used to provide spring and fall plantings around the Hollis Social Library, Town Hall, the Town Common, the Always Ready Engine House Museum and the Lucie Beebe Garden. It also funds the purchase of wreaths and greens to decorate town buildings for the holidays, provide scholarships and donate money to other community projects.

Recipients of this year’s scholarships are Erik Nadeau, who plans to study environmental law at the University of Chicago, and Cole Gallaut, who will study forestry at the University of Maine.

In the past year, the club has also helped fund several Eagle Scout projects, purchased a tree and garden related books for the Hollis Social Library, supported the Beaver Brook Nature Center, and planted shrubs at Town Hall.

The club’s mission is to further the knowledge and advancement of gardening, horticulture and conservation. There are currently 52 members. Meetings are on the first Tuesday of the month from September until June and are open to the public.