Later this month the Pittsfield Garden Tour will celebrate its 20th and final year. WAMC strolled through some of the gardens that have made the effort successful.
It’s been two decades of digging, weeding and watering for the elite gardeners featured in the Pittsfield Garden Tour.
Anne Pasko is an originator of the tour. The seedling of the idea came when she was on the Pittsfield tourist committee in the mid-1990s.
“At that time the city of Pittsfield was sort of falling apart in some ways,” Pasko said. “England Brothers had closed. GE was going, going, gone. The tourist commission was sitting around in Springside Park in one of the gorgeous gardens bemoaning the fact that all of the tourists who came into Berkshire County would just zoom through Pittsfield.”
“Of course I was thinking of a garden tour for one or two years,” Pasko said. “I never expected it to be for 20 years.”
The first year 475 people viewed home gardens chosen by what grew into the Pittsfield Garden Tour selection committee. Almost 1,000 people turned out for the biggest year. Each year about 20 gardens are reviewed with seven or eight chosen as tour stops.
This year’s is a retrospective tour featuring favorite stops from the past two decades. Since the addresses aren’t known until you buy a ticket, I’ll only identify Pat by her first name and say that she lives on Elm Street. Even under a shroud of mystery, Pat showed me around an eye-catching berm in her front yard.
“It was pretty easy for me to get 45 yards of topsoil,” said Pat.
Now filled with…
“Black-eyed susans, corral belles, Japanese spirea and some flowering mint,” Pat pointed out.
Clearly, it’s become a highlight of the neighborhood.
“Some lady told me that the hydrangea was a little late getting started this year,” said Pat.
The tour also includes larger gardens, say about 17 acres, with a less tranquil atmosphere.
“We have piglets, chickens, ponies and donkeys,” Donna.
Don’t worry; there are plenty of gardens too…they’re just filled with more edible products. Donna runs the farm — which will remain unnamed for now — that sits less than three miles from downtown Pittsfield.
“Every time people come here they say ‘I have driven by this place all my life and I never knew this was here right in Pittsfield,’” said Donna.
Having donated to and worked on projects to beautify Pittsfield, Pasko says she’s proud of the community and relationships the tour has built. Some of those involved even journeyed to England for a flower show, including Lois Forsley, who’s only missed one tour and beams with pride talking about her filled to the brim sun, shade flower garden.
“It’s a friendly thing,” Forsley said. “Gardeners are friendly people. And they’re happy people.”
Ending the garden tour is bittersweet, but since it’s entirely volunteer-run, Pasko says it’s time.
“Our garden tour is very different in that it’s homeowners,” Pasko said. “They’ve been designed and maintained by the homeowner. They’re something that everybody can achieve. I think that has been the real draw for people.”
Click here for more information about the July 16 and 17th tour.