Stunning gardens – even in September

The path to the gardens

Down the garden path: this pretty scene is a path through a wilder area leading to the beautifully kept grounds and gardens at Ann Lee and Brian Stanbra’s historic home on Queensborough Road. You can tour those gardens, and those of Sylvia and Brian MacNeil, this coming Sunday, Historic Queensborough Day.

“You should have seen it in August!” That’s what not one but two Queensborough gardening couples told me this past weekend as I was ooohhing and aaahhing while getting a guided tour through their splendid gardens.

And indeed, even with my limited horticultural knowledge, I realize that September is not the optimal time to show off a garden. But when the garden you’re talking about is as extensive, varied, thoughtfully planted and beautifully kept as are those of the two couples in question – Sylvia and Brian MacNeil, and Ann Lee and Brian Stanbra – well, let’s just say that visitors will be the farthest thing from disappointed. Even in September.

And you can be just such a visitor! Because these two gardens will be on display and open to visits as part of Historic Queensborough Day this coming Sunday, Sept. 7. (You can read all about Historic Queensborough Day in my post here, and more in another one here.)

Because I knew I wanted to devote a Meanwhile, at the Manse post to these gardens in advance of the event, I asked the Stanbras and the MacNeils if I could come by last weekend and take some photos. (And they kindly agreed.) In both cases, these are gardens that I had admired only from a distance; in the case of the Stanbras, whenever I drove by their historic home at 2225 Queensborough Rd. on the way between Queensborough and Madoc; and in the case of the MacNeils, who are at 1861 Queensborough Rd., looking up at them from our adjoining smaller and lower property here at the Manse. And in both cases those rather distant views had provided lots to admire; but people, you just can’t believe how gorgeous they are when you get close up!

A riot of colour

The rock garden at the top of Sylvia and Brian MacNeil’s beautifully kept property. It is a riot of glorious colour – even in September.

The MacNeils are lifelong gardeners who speak with great knowledge of plants and with affectionate pride about what they have created. Their phlox is especially gorgeous, but there are just so many things to see in their expansive rock garden and smaller separate gardens. They even have a separate “nursery garden,” where transplanted and new plants are placed to get a good start before going into the main garden. People, these folks have it down to a science! And a lovely science at that.

The Stanbras have turned their expansive cleared and wooded grounds into several oases of beauty and peace, with walkways and open areas connecting them. In additon to perennials flowers and plants and vegetables, they have fruit trees and tons of raspberry bushes. There is also a delightful glade down in the woods, with a pretty stream running through it. The landscaping is sublime – and they do all the work themselves.

(One thing I couldn’t stop thinking about as I toured both gardens was: What an incredible amount of work!)

So without further ado, here is a little photo gallery featuring these two gardens. I’m afraid my photography can’t possibly do justice to them – and besides, I didn’t want to give it all away, because I know you will want to see for yourself. Yet another reason (as if one were needed) to visit Queensborough this Sunday!

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2 thoughts on “Stunning gardens – even in September

  1. Your photos are beautiful, Katherine, both here and on your earlier page about your neighbours’ garden. With such large lots, there is a lot of potential when it comes to helping Mother Nature plan the garden. I love hollyhocks, and the phlox and asters are just as beautiful — the colours are vibrant and one can sense peace and happiness. I hope it will be a good weekend for the big weekend, with good attendance. I’ll be looking forward to your coverage about the event.

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