The Garden Conservancy Offers A Look Into Private Gardens

Sadly, two thirds of America’s great gardens were lost to development by the end of the last century. When Francis Cabot, an avid gardener from an old Boston family, learned in 1989 that Ruth Bancroft’s innovative 3 1⁄2 acre drought-tolerant garden in Walnut Creek, California, was in danger he decided to start THE GARDEN CONSERVANCY to save it and other outstanding American gardens. Bancroft’s garden, now protected by a preservation easement, was open to the public in 1992.

The nonprofit Conservancy has saved over ninety important gardens around the country to date, including Longue Vue in New Orleans ravaged by Hurricane Katrina. Cabot opened Stonecroft, his own 12-acre alpine plant garden in Cold Spring, N.Y. to the public in 1992. The Conservancy offers lectures and workshops. On Sunday, April 28, British plant expert Christopher Woods will be discussing his book, Gardenlust: A Botanical Tour of the World’s Best New Gardens, at Cary Institute in Millbrook, N.Y. In 1995, the Conservancy began Open Days, providing garden lovers with the rare opportunity to explore important private gardens. The gardens are open spring to fall on weekends with a $10 admission. Children twelve and under are free.

This spring, Open Days kicks off with a spectacular garden on Sunday, April 28. The White Garden in Lewisboro, N.Y., is considered to be one of the finest private gardens in the Hudson Valley. Classically-inspired, it contains 300,000 daffodils, a pergola garden, labyrinth, an Asian-inspired moss garden, sculptures, water features and a temple of Apollo on an island. Digging Deeper, an occasional program offered by the Conservancy, will be holding a hands-on workshop for kids seven and older on the magic of making more plants.

Membership entitles you to half price admission to lectures and gardens and a directory. Open Days gardens are listed on its website, For questions call 888-842-2442. A book of discounted tickets is available and you can sign up for emails.

The Learning Collaborative, in conjunction with Master Gardeners of the Cornell University Co- operative Extension of Rockland, will be offering six classes starting Tuesday, April 9 to May 21, on various aspects of gardening. These include starting seeds, growing annuals and perennials, container gardening, bonsais and herb gardens.

Course and instructor descriptions can be found at or call 845-638-9600. Classes are held at New City Jewish Center, 47 Old Schoolhouse Road, New City.