Fern and Stanley Lee’s garden has done a lot of growing over the years, not only up, but out across their Glenville property.
“We had a 10-year plan for the garden,” Fern said.
“But it turned into a 50-year plan,” Stanley added.
Their sprawling garden, which includes well over 300 plants, will be a part of the Soroptimist Garden Tour on Saturday. The tour runs from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. and it includes eight gardens across Schenectady County.
This is the 15th year the Soroptimist organization has held the tour and each year they raise money to support scholarships, awards, and projects that support women across the Capital Region. The Garden Tours are mostly self-guided, though there are opportunities for guided tours.
This is the first time the Lees have opened their garden for the tour, though they’ve gone on many tours over the years, garnering the expertise needed to curate their own garden. Or maybe it should be gardens.
“I call this the formal garden,” Fern said.
With precisely clipped boxwood hedges, it looks like something out of a formal english garden. The hedges come together in the middle with a traditional sundial. On the outskirts, several Buddhist statues line the walkways, tucked into the hedges. Though not Buddhist themselves, the Lees have family members that are. They’ve collected the statues throughout the years from various trips, along with several other statues.
Beyond the formal garden, the Lees maintain a rose garden, a bog garden, a vegetable garden, a koi pond and a wildflower garden. The rose garden has many types of David Austin roses.
“They’re bred for their scent,” Fern said.
In the bog garden, there’s a mix of trilliums, lady slippers, Virginia bluebells and pitcher plants.
Beyond the flower buds, there’s also an interesting mix of trees on the grounds. The largest and most gnarled are the black locust trees, which Stanley said are about 250 years old. They tower above much of the garden, no doubt providing a bit of needed shade while the plants are attended to on a daily basis, usually by Stanley himself.
The Lees are known for their green thumbs, not only in their own garden but across the region. Stanley is involved in the local orchid society and the couple run a plant booth to raise funds for their church, First Reformed in Glenville. They’ll be around on Saturday should tour attendees have questions or want advice.
While their garden is large and in some ways traditional (sitting next to their 18th century home) other gardens on the tour are more compact, making the most of a smaller backyard.
“That’s the interesting thing about the garden tours, they’re all so unique,” said Donna Gigone, the co-chair for the tour. Attendees can pick up ideas for their own gardens, no matter the size of their backyard.
“We’ve partnered with Cornell Cooperative Extension this year,” Gigone said. Master gardeners of the Sustainable Living Center and Gardens will be giving tours of Central Park, including the Children’s Garden and the Native Plant Garden, Bird and Butterfly Garden. Attendees can also visit the rose garden, which features hundreds of rose varieties.
Tickets are $20 if purchased before Saturday and can be purchased at the following locations:
- The Open Door, Jay St., Schenectady
- Experience & Design, Union St., Schenectady
- The Petal Pusher, Saratoga Rd., Burnt Hills
- Oliver’s Cafe, Freeman's Bridge Rd., Scotia
- Scott’s Hallmark, Mayfair Plaza, Saratoga Rd., Glenville
- Felthousen’s Florist, Van Antwerp Rd., Niskayuna
- Kulak’s Nursery and Landscaping, Rexford
- Faddegon’s Nursery, Inc. Latham
Tickets can also be purchased on the day of the event at any of the gardens for $25. The addresses of the gardens on the tour will be given once tickets are purchased. For more information visit soroptomistofschenectady.org. The Garden Tour will be held rain or shine.