PLATTSBURGH — Thirty-five years ago, Eagle Man and the Jeweler couldn’t dig deeper than an inch and half without hitting the rock ledge beneath their property.
Then, there was only a little summer cottage, but that has expanded into many rooms, as have the gardens, which the Jeweler considers exterior rooms.
This lush sanctuary is the only one outside the City of Plattsburgh during the Kent-Delord House Museum’s 22nd-annual Secret Gardens Tour on Saturday.
The eight city gardens are mostly floral, but one gardener plants edibles such as kiwi and peaches, and a Champy sighting is guaranteed in another.
It took truckloads upon truckloads of soil to establish Eagle Man and the Jeweler’s gardens.
When rocks were wrestled out of the earth for the driveway, the Jeweler stopped them from being hauled away.
Placed along the front lawn, the rocks appear as if they have always been there. Rocks ring the goldfish pond. They are surrounded by a mix of native plants such as wild juniper and jack-in-the-pulpit. The whole property features plants and trees, the gifts of friends, swaps or purchases at Cook & Gardener in Plattsburgh.
“We try to work with what we have,” the Jeweler said.
Hostas, there are never enough. The driftwood room is bounded, when in bloom, by blazes of pink azaleas.
Eagle Man built and designed the vegetable garden, a harvest of four kinds of squash, as many tomatoes, beans, cucumbers, spinach, beets, carrots and raspberries.
“He dreams about it,” the Jeweler said.
There is an iris garden home to a tree peony and bee balm.
Nearby are honeysuckle, pink magnolias and geraniums.
“Both of our parents had gardens. His parents got into it more than mine,” the Jeweler said.
At Cornell, Eagle Man studied ornamental horticulture.
Their gardens thrive, so they thin and move plants around and around.
The herb garden contains sage, basil, parsley, chives, rosemary and oregano.
A recent purchase, wisteria, was planted at the base of a trellis.
Near the entryway, a clematis was glorious in the midday sun.
“This is the first year it bloomed,” the Jeweler said.
A mountain laurel has survived the past 15 years.
“It bloomed two weeks early. All the things that bloom late in July have bloomed,” the Jeweler said.
The Jeweler wonders what August will bring.
When they were entrenched in their jobs, they were weekend gardeners.
Now in retirement, the Jeweler paces herself. She knows that what she doesn’t finish, she can work on the next day or the next.
Eagle Man goes at it full throttle.
“He can be at it the whole day,” the Jeweler said. “It’s a lot of work, but it has to be work you enjoy. What is really fun, there’s always something to learn.”
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