Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Ellwanger Garden: flowers, hedges - and flesh eaters?

Imagine a series of secluded, fragrant, multi colored outdoor “rooms.” The carpet is a lush green of the lawn. The ceiling is blue and cream from the ever shifting sky. The walls are many colors – and change daily, as the perennials in each flower bed reach their peak of bloom.

I love working at Ellwanger Garden in the spring. For just a few days, Ellwanger Garden really shows off during its most spectacular season – spring and early summer. That’s why we open this special historic landscape to visitors during the Lilac Festival - this week! From 10 am to 4 pm the Garden is open for your enjoyment.

The “walls” of the 6 outdoor rooms in the Garden are filled with a great variety of perennials, some quite rare, others familiar and beloved by gardeners everywhere. Tidy boxwood hedgerows line the paths that intersect the garden areas. Continuously cultivated since 1867 by the Ellwanger family (of noted 19th century horticulturist George Ellwanger) The Landmark Society has been caring for the site for over 20 years.

Staff and volunteers enjoy welcoming visitors to see this remarkable “living museum.” But I have to confess, not all visitors are given a nice greeting. We’re always glad to see the people that arrive. The ground hogs, rabbits and the deer are not given a happy welcome. In past years they‘ve considered Ellwanger Garden their own private “all-you-can-eat-buffet.” Fortunately this year the hungry critters must be on a diet, as the garden looks pristine.

We do enjoy seeing the song birds that gather in this protected area. Many familiar backyard birds enjoy the space, and we occasionally see a really interesting one – a Baltimore oriole, for example.

Even though I have been to the garden every spring for 22 years, I was really surprised by bird visitors on Monday. I spied gigantic wings on the roof of the carriage barn, behind the garden. I walked up as quietly as is possible on a gravel driveway, and was rewarded by the site of five huge turkey vultures, wings spread to catch the morning sun.

As soon as they saw me, the wings went in and they started uncomfortably shifting along the roof ridge, moving away from me. I guess that’s a turkey vulture compliment – I don’t look like carrion to them.

The group took off from the roof, and swooped around, quite low. It then occurred to me – what has their attention, attracting such a large group
Fortunately, a careful search and sniff revealed no vulture breakfast specials on our grounds. Just the fragrant smells of the viburnums, the iris, and many other glorious blooms.

If you’d like to see the parade of bloom at Ellwanger Garden this spring, come on over to 625 Mt. Hope Avenue during the Lilac Festival. Just look for the sandwich board saying “Garden Open Today.” On weekdays, you may park on side streets (the north entrance to Mt. Hope Cemetery is only 1 ½ blocks away.) On weekends our good friends at the University of Rochester offer their parking lot a half block south of the garden – there are signs directing you.?

If you miss the Lilac Festival you’ll have another chance during Peony Weekend, June 13 and 14 – or Tuesday evenings starting the end of June from 5 to 7 pm.
We look forward to welcoming all visitors who aren’t going to munch on the plants – even the turkey vultures.
Posted by Cindy Boyer, Director of Museums and Education.

1 comment:

Window Man said...
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