WESTFIELD- Betty Platt started gardening when she bought her first home. Now, several homes later, her passion for gardening continues to grow.
Platt, co-chair of the Garden Tour to benefit Grandmothers’ Garden, will share that passion with tour goers this weekend, June 26-27.
The annual tour took a COVID break last year and is back with six gardens this year. Tickets for the tour are $20 per person and available at Grandmothers’ Garden on Smith Avenue Saturday and Sunday during the event. The tour is from 10 a.m. – 2 p.m. A brochure with a listing of the addresses for the homes on the tour will be given when tickets are purchased.
Platt and her husband Mark moved to their Honey Pot Road home five years ago. At the time, there was nothing but trees surrounding the home.
“I walked through the kitchen and saw the yard — which was pretty much just trees – and I had a vision,” said Platt.
An expanse of windows at the back of the house offered almost panoramic views of what Platt knew could be beautiful.
With four grown children and 12 grandchildren, they decided it was best to start with the in-ground pool.
“Once we had the pool we started working around it,” she said. “It grew from there.”
Platt said she is the gardener, but her husband is “the tree guy.” He helped select the wide variety of trees in the garden, which include a blue spruce and Alaskan cedar. But before they could put in the pool, plant trees and create gardens, they had to remove 125 white pines from the five-plus acre property.
The Platts had their work cut out for them, but the semi-retired couple wanted a backyard oasis.
“We worked in the wine business and we are mostly retired so I had the time to put into the garden,” Platt said.
Today, the large yard includes the pool area, which has a waterfall and is backed by a small hill with a variety of trees; the koi pond, which was one of the only features of the yard when they purchased the home and Mark Platt expanded it to six times its original size; and the kitchen garden.
Platt reorganized the kitchen garden a bit this year. The garden features several raised beds of vegetables as well as potted plants mixed with flowers. Tomatoes and beans grow in some beds, along with other veggies, while several varieties of lettuce and eggplant grow in large pots.
“I had to put a cloche on some plants that our bunny has been eating,” said Platt, noting that bunnies are not the only wildlife that visit.
“We have a bear that has damaged our fence and eaten a few koi, the bunnies that eat everything and we have fox and deer,” she said.
While creating somewhat of a nuisance, Platt said they don’t mind the animals all that much.
“We love nature,” she said, pointing out a hawk perched on the pergola.
Under the pergola is seating where sipping wine and conversation are encouraged. There is a shed with a porch that will be turned into a space with more seating, and chairs and benches are placed throughout the yard. Outside the fence is a larger pond with a fountain.
“We are expanding to outside the fence — we really love the water,” Platt said, “and I’m running out of room!”
Platt spends hours in the garden each day in spring and summer. She said she enjoys the work and being outdoors.
“It’s therapeutic,” she said. “Mark’s been helping get ready for the tour but normally it’s just me and I’d rather do it myself.”
Platt visits local nurseries regularly and enjoys taking garden tours for inspiration. When it comes to her plants, Platt doesn’t play favorites.
“I love them all,” she said.
Platt admits she does have an affinity for day lilies — she has upwards of 50 varieties – as well as peonies and hosta, both of which are also grown in various varieties.
A large lacecap hydrangea bush is flanked by different varieties of hosta by the kitchen garden and Platt noted that hydrangea can be quite fickle.
“They bloom beautifully at the Cape but around here they may bloom when you first get them and rarely after that so you have to get the right variety, which is why I have lacecap ,” she said.
Platt wasn’t always as well-versed in flowers as she is today, but her love of gardening led her to educate herself.
“I do my research,” she said. “I visit a lot of nurseries and I go online and subscribe to gardening magazines.”
Guests taking the tour will explore six different gardens, all with unique features.