In Bloom: A Sample of Belmont’s Green Garden Tour

On Sunday, Sept. 7, 10 locations around Belmont – from community plots at Rock Meadow to small backyard spaces – participated in the 4th annual Belmont Green Garden Tour, highlighting organic and sustainable gardens that use their available spaces, whether big or small, with great efficiency and imagination.

Here are just a sample of the gardens presented this year:

Peggy Kornegger, Gilbert Road

Unlike many of the gardeners, Kornegger rents her home on Gilbert Road. But despite not owning her plot, Kornegger wanted to create a space where she could plant and grow an organic garden. She asked her landlord if she could have the run of a long neglected shade-filled backyard.

After seven years, Kornegger has repaired the building’s back wall, planted shade-friendly annuals and strategically placed a row of hostas to stop a mud slide down the driveway that occurred every time it rained. Her garden is filled with a wide variety of Indigenous New England plants, such as a native honeysuckle that attracts hummingbirds, as well as small statues of spiritual icons of  Buddha and St. Francis.

“I’m very spiritual and eclectic and my garden shows that,” said Kornegger. “Gradually, a mini-habitat is growing, and the yard is filled with life of all kinds.”

Karsten Kueppenbender and Siobhan O’Neill, Pine Street.

Located across busy Trapelo Road from a popular ice cream spot is Belmont’s newest bee habitat. The yellow and black beehive – is there any other colors to use? – that is new home to more than 1,000 bees is situated near the garage of the two-family Pine Street home of Karsten Kueppenbender and Siobhan O’Neill.

“My son wanted to have bees and we thought once he got old enough, then why not?” said Kueppenbender who has been slowly building his green garden beginning six years ago. They will not be harvesting any honey this year as the current crop will be used to allow the bees to use over the winter.

But the Pine Street location is more than just a honeycomb; there are raised garden beds where vegetables such as tomatoes (protected with wire as squirrels have taken to them), kale, swiss chard, along with earthier produce such as carrots and potatoes. There is even a small critter living just below one the beds.

The location is also where two praying mantises couples have come to dine, eats bumble bees but leaves the honey-variety alone, said Kueppenbender.

“That’s good for us,” he said. “Not so for the bumble bees.”

Joan Teebagy, Washington Street

There’s a large rabbit in a cage out front of Joan Teebagy’s house – a wonderful fertilizer, she notes – next to raised beds filled with a variety of cheery tomatoes, broccoli, squash and other produce. For the past nine years, Teebagy has been adding a little bit more each season to her front yard garden.

Out back is a brand new sunny backyard, made possible when a five-foot ash came down, where this year she grew native “painted” corn, the first time she ever grew it.

“My own ‘Field of Dreams,’ Teebagy proclaimed, said she will attempt to grind the kernels into flowers.

Teebagy has a virtual farm outback: there are a raft of ducks for the eggs – the sign at the gate warns all to close the gates less the they flee – a few chickens (“just visiting for dinner,” said Teebagy, with a knowing wink) a couple more bunnies along with Belmont’s only “barn” cat, Michu, which happily lives in the garage.

“The Animal Rescue League said she was un-adoptable and unfriendly,” said Teebagy as Michu saunters up to every visitor for a pet and a scratch. “I think they were wrong.”

Tour de Sustainability: Visit Belmont’s Green Gardens on Sunday

Visit 10 of the most sustainable gardens in Belmont and talk with their caretakers at the 4th annual Belmont Green Garden Tour this Sunday, Sept. 7 from noon to 3 p.m.

The tour – which includes Rock Meadow to a pair of homes on Baker Street – is sponsored by Sustainable Belmont.

Visitors will find everything from hoop-houses to compost know-how; beautiful perennials to delicious annuals along with a bunny tractor. Pick up some new knowledge, commiserate on the dry season and enjoy the day with us.

Printed maps are available on Saturday, Sept. 7 at the Beech Street Center or download the brochure: Sustainable Belmont Green Garden Tour 2014. Participants can follow this link to Google Map of the Green Garden Tour 2014.