Friday, June 24, 2016

Albany's Hidden City House and Garden Tour 2016






Last evening, I hied* my way down to Albany's Center Square Hudson/Park neighborhoods for the 41st Annual Hidden City House and Garden Tour.
Sponsored by Historic Albany Foundation, twelve property owners opened their homes and city gardens for viewing by those of us who had purchased a tour ticket.

* Hommage to Carl Strock. 
I myself am a gal of the suburbs, but I am also a nosy soul and a fan of garden tours. It is fun to see what creative folks can do in what are sometimes tiny outdoor spaces. Here above, I liked the idea of growing a clematis vine up along the branches of a climbing rose.

 This photo above is from one couple's rooftop garden. Having no ground-level space for a garden, they built up. Below, two other garden viewers took the liberty of resting a moment in this charming rooftop  space.
 Having an outdoor seating area was the main goal of many of these gardens. And on this June night, one could really appreciate the appeal of spaces like these next two, below.



Fountains were popular features, as well, where the soft sounds of trickling water helped to mask the sounds of city life. They also made the spaces seem cooler and more Zen-like.


 A fairly simple planter, beautifully done in cooling greens and whites, also adds a peaceful element to the front door area on a busy street.


 I know some garden snobs might scoff at the use of pachysandra and hosta, but in many of these urban gardens, they were used to good advantage. Here above, with an attractive iron-like low fence, these easy-to-maintain plants, tolerant as they are of shade and dry conditions, looked neat and cooling. Pachysandra has the added advantage of staying green year round, so even in winter, these city gardens will have something to make them look lush and alive.

 This extra large city garden, above, used pachysandra in a great swathe along one stretch. Again, this hardy plant offers low maintenance and year round green.


Sometimes, neatness and simplicity are all that is needed.  A tidy edging helps hosta and and a few shade-loving annuals provide easy interest to a challenging space. 


Some homes had only tiny outdoor spaces but still managed to squeeze in some fun green things. This homeowner had an admirable assortment of herbs and veggies growing just outside their kitchen door. 
 Other homeowners emphasized good scents in their diminutive gardens. The smell of roses drifted up onto the deck sitting  area at this house.
 The indoor cats at this house had a way to safely enjoy the out-of-doors. This clever run meandered in two directions from a special cat door inserted into a garden-side window.
 A folk art painter was making good use of this garden.  Below, are two of her pieces:
 ~Here, vintage lawn chairs sported cheerful sunflowers; and

~ "Strawberry Cow" caught the eye of many garden visitors.

Also on the tour, visitors could view much of the interior spaces of homes open on Thursday night. However, I chose not to photograph those, as it seemed too intrusive to do so. But it was fun to see how folks have met the challenges of living in historic homes.  

More garden tours are on tap in our region. Coming soon are Ballston Spa's this Sunday (see: http://www.saratogaracetrack.com/event/ballston-spa-hidden-garden-tour-128283/) and Saratoga's on July 10 (see: http://www.saratoga.com/event/annual-secret-garden-tour-74146/)

Bring a camera and comfortable shoes. Private gardens are not always as accessible as public spaces so think twice before you set out with strollers or 95-year-old great aunts. Trust me on this.