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Secret gardens revealed in Lake Placid
August 10, 2018

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Superlatives such as "fabulous tour," "so varied and interesting" and "Got so many tips and ideas for my own garden," were among comments heard at final refreshments hosted by Renate and Hans Schachenmayr on their lovely Mirror Lake lawn after the Secret Gardens Tour on Sunday, July 29.

Tour co-chairs Joan Donaldson and Renate Schachenmayr orchestrated the event to coincide with the Club's 85th year since its founding.

More than 160 Garden Club of Lake Placid members and guests visited nine properties ranging from lots of .10 acre to others more than an acre. Giant wooden tulips of various bright colors corresponded to a map included in a description booklet all guests received when they exchanged their tickets.

Alyson and Junior shared a "wide display of progressive perennials intermingled with blooming annuals." Liatris (gay feather), echinacea (purple coneflowers), hibiscus and heliopsis popped from a green background of mugo, blue spruce, juniper and mop head cypress. Orange butterfly bush, begonias of bright colors, astilbe and bee balm accented the collection.

Chest-high, raised, wooden vegetable/herb beds are further protected by splashes of marigolds and nasturtiums to guard against insects. Blue cat mint, pole beans and raspberry bushes expand the bounty.

On higher ground, Agnes and Mike own a private wildflower field and enjoy manicured gardens of zinnias, dahlia and bee balm. Huge, prize-winning tuberous begonias, hanging red geraniums, gazinnias and zinnias count among potted plants which enhance the porch overlooking Scarface and Seymour mountains. Currently blooming butterfly bush, coreopsis, tanzia, black-eyed Susan, cow vetch, daisies and wild aster sway in the wild field.

Located up on Signal Hill, Diane and JD enjoy a view of a terraced garden, Mirror Lake and mountains from their living room. Diane credits friend Paul Cassot for enduring "the ups and downs of establishing a major perennial garden with all my changes, moving plants, plants dying and feeding and fighting those pesty bugs." Diane said that her grandchildren love to run up, down and through the sunny garden hill.

Another garden appealing to children belongs to Dot and Peter, who designed part of their grounds with young people in mind. They wrote, "Inspired by evidence of tiny elves at Santa's Workshop, our magical garden area encourages the imagination of the young and rekindles that of the more mature! We have used rocks (Adirondacks' most prolific crop) to form a mound and have transplanted many of the naturally growing flora to this mound for elves. Grandchildren like to paint tiny doors for the hill and nearby trees to attract elf magic."

Two other sides of their home have sun or shade perennial gardens, apple trees, evergreens and hardwood. Deer and woodchuck find the garden as irresistible as the children.

Sheila and Alton's home is surrounded by gardens. That means transitioning from sun to deep shade, dry to wet soil, wind or calm, even different soil types. They seem to have mastered the obstacles. Planting white portulaca and hydrangea sets off feathery astilbe, Jacob's ladder and astrantia. Green petasites, umbrella plants and other variegated greenery cover shade. Although one side borders state Route 73, "a sense of peace descends as one begins to walk through the cultivated yet woodsy garden," Sheila wrote.

Another house amidst flora is that of Carol (aka The Flower Lady) and Mark. For more than 30 years, they have worked hard starting with only a few small gardens which have "blossomed into an expansive network of plants, arbors, and soothing water features spanning both the front and back yards." Bee balm, astilbe, fiddlehead ferns, hostas, spectacular day lilies of unusual colors, goat's beard, candle wick, and echinacea harmonize. The back offers a separate oasis of wood arbors covered with kiwi, hops and clematis vine.

Talented owner on Hillcrest, Heidi asks, "How much garden can you squeeze into a .10-acre city lot?" A glance from her kitchen window or back roof deck gives the answer with a bird's eye perspective of the back, very secret, perennial garden. This master gardener transforms a small space into a whimsical walk behind her and her husband's 1928 home.

Linda and Dave are challenged by an all-shade property between two streets. Linda explained, "We have a lovely canopy of mature maple, cherry and beech trees with an under layer of dogwoods, hydrangea and witch hazel. The gardens beneath are green with ferns, hostas, butterbur and mosses." Linda is beefing up the monarch butterfly population in a porch planter. One can see the many chrysalises hanging off the plant. She asserts, "Impatiens are the choice this year in 'hot' colors so that swatches of brightness slash through the greens. ... The deck is our favorite place to hang out or enjoy dinner, giving us complete privacy in the middle of a busy residential area."

Ruth's garden off Victor Herbert Road invites guests to enter any day they wish. Most locals know that a former St. Eustace-By-The-Lakes was sited here until 1927. Decades later, foraging around to start some plants, Ruth's shovel scraped upon a flat stone. Over time, an interesting pattern emerged in the shape of a cross and research proved it was the above-referenced site. This became the inspiration to uncover the complete foundation and mark it with flora. Bright yellow primroses always greet us first after snow melt and now multi-colored flower beds mark the original walls of the old church.

Proceeds from the tour will go to the continued work of the Garden Club to support community horticultural projects.

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