When amateur horticulturist Marie Morrison passed away in August 2010, her husband, Charlie, let her magnificent garden become a jungle of sorts.
But the following summer he set out to spruce up the garden in honor of his late wife.
In 2011 Morrison, who is in his 80s, hired a crew of gardeners and got to work.
He showed the crew pictures of how she used to keep the garden and instructed them on which plants to put where.
This wonderfully crafted backyard on Court Street was one of 11 gardens highlighted by the Secret Gardens Tour on Sunday. The annual event is a major fundraiser for Soroptimist International of Saratoga County, a group whose mission is to improve the lives of women and girls locally and around the world.
“I did this as a tribute to Marie,” Morrison said. “She really did love to garden and would have wanted it to be tidy and well kept.”
In the garden, baskets of dragonwing begonias hang at each end of the fence, which set off the annual and perennial flowers that fill the backyard.
A large picture of Marie hangs on the side of a screened-in porch, as if to show that she is still looking after her garden.
Robin Solomon, a Soroptimist, loves the intimacy of the garden and thinks it is wonderful that it was done in Marie’s memory.
“The design of the garden is just so fabulous,” Solomon said. “If I lived here I would be at peace.”
The tour spanned nearly six hours and provided people with a chance to glimpse some of the most breathtaking gardens in both rural and urban settings. It was the 20th annual edition of the event. Tickets for the self-guided tour were $20 in advance and $25 on the day of the event.
A much larger and more expansive garden about one mile north on North Broadway Street sits on property owned by Michele and Ron Riggi.
Carefully chosen sculptures of horses and stone dogs line the walkways and alleys that lead into spacious patios and garden areas. Manicured hedges and bushes lead visitors to a pool and jacuzzi that serves as the focal point of the garden.
The architect of the garden, Rich Morris of Toadflax Nursery, said it took about a year to just design the landscape and then two more years to construct it.
“This was a long process,” he said. “We had to sit down and come up with a concept for the property.”
Visitors were amazed at the attention to detail in the garden, saying that no stone was left unturned.
Dave Jennings of Scotia said it is hard to drive down the street without breaking your neck to sneak a peek at the garden.
“It is really a garden within a garden,” he said. “They did a great job with the pool and the walkway leading up to it.”
A friend of the Riggi family, Mary Martin, called this garden the “crown jewel” of all the stops on the tour.
“When you look at the garden it really is not that complex,” she said. “Most of the designs are simple, but they are so wonderfully done.”
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