As has been our custom for a half dozen years now, my girlfriend, Jan, and I took a day off from work on the third Thursday in May to participate in a tour of elegant gardens hosted by, and for the benefit of, LaDew Topiary Gardens in Monkton, Maryland, of which I am a longtime patron. For this occasion I chose to mix old with new, pairing a rhinestone-embellished tank top and simple black sweater by International Concepts for Macy’s, which I purchased last year, with a pair of vintage leggings by Rainbeau Bodywear, which my mother bought for me when I was a teenager back in the early 1970s. I added a wide-brimmed straw sun hat I bought at the Maryland Home and Garden Show, and strappy black Aerosoles sandals that were a gift from my best friend, Kari, in Dallas, and was ready to take on the town – or garden in this case.
The tour’s choice of days could not have been more spectacular. A cold front came in the night before, blowing away heat and humidity and leaving in its wake an absolutely perfect day: deep blue sky, a delightful temperature with a mild breeze (70 degrees F.) and brilliant sunshine lighting up the foliage and flowers at every garden we visited.
There were six properties on the tour this year, and all were up in York, Pennsylvania, a short drive from my home in Baltimore, Maryland. The first stop was Black Run Farm, a faithful reproduction of a colonial farmstead in the 1770s, featuring a springhouse and pond, kitchen garden, outdoor "beehive" bake-oven and smokehouse, among other buildings.
The second site, at the Millbourne estate, was a fifty-acre wonderland of visual delights, including a perennial hillside, pool with conservatory, secret gardens and more. Jan and I were mesmerized by the beauty of each new vignette as we followed winding wooded paths through acre after acre of diverse landscaping.
At our last stop, Yorktowne Farms, we were captivated by more than thirty sets of Standardbred mares and foals, all born within the last few weeks, basking and frolicking in the dazzling sunshine. Week-old babies cavorted together, their moms keeping close watch, in one pen, while older foals and their mothers grazed in an adjacent paddock. When we finally dragged ourselves away from the horses, a leisurely walk across the picturesque property led us to an 19th century lime kiln with a 25-foot waterfall tumbling beneath a charming gazebo.
So entranced was I by the beauty of the day that I went directly to my local garden store following the tour and spent the rest of my afternoon planting annuals and herbs at my own humble abode. It was a perfect day.