Each year, The Garden Conservancy’s Open Days program gives the public a rare opportunity to step inside the most beautiful designed landscapes on the North Fork. The stops on these self-guided tours are at the private homes of master gardeners who encourage guests to wander the grounds and ask questions to inspire their own plantings.
The nonprofit organization, which strives to preserve public gardens, has been hosting Open Days tours nationwide since 1995, showing creative landscape designs from organic farms to historic estates. This year’s North Fork itinerary includes three homes in Cutchogue and Flanders on Saturday, June 1.
Admission to each private garden is $10 per person and children 12 and under are free. All proceeds benefit The Garden Conservancy’s mission. Buy discounted admission tickets in advance at gardenconservancy.org.
Here are the gardens on this year’s tour:
Conni Cross’ Garden
10 a.m. to 2 p.m.
22275 Main Road, Cutchogue
Situated on approximately five acres, this 23-year-old garden with eye-catching adornments was designed by garden designer Conni Cross. An unusual solar house is surrounded by a tufa garden featuring dwarf and miniature conifers and alpines. Keep an eye out for the waterfall, four ponds, an aviary and barnyard, a children’s playhouse and more. There are also plenty of rare plants and lush gardens to meander through.
Garden of Valerie M. Ansalone
86 Risa Court, Flanders
10 a.m. to 4 p.m.
Water features and enchanted woodlands are among the highlights of this ever-evolving Flanders garden. Owner and designer Valerie M. Ansalone started with the goal of creating a welcoming parklike setting in her own backyard. The one-acre property was originally filled with oaks, pitch pines and berryless blueberry bushes. Today, there is a dreamy native oak canopy that provides shade above the winding garden paths, where you’ll discover rhododendrons, azaleas, conifers, magnolias, perennials, hydrangeas, landscape trees and bulbs. The woodland walk, with sitting areas to enjoy the environment, leads to a 4,000-gallon koi pond, where you will meet Chester, Parker and Bella — a few Japanese koi residents.
The Blair Garden
10 a.m. to 4 p.m.
4560 Vanston Road, Cutchogue
It has taken Arnold and Karen Blair more than 25 years to cultivate their three-acre bayfront property. The pristine 17 acres of beach and wetlands that serve as a backdrop to the gardens are a protected preserve deeded to The Nature Conservancy, ensuring the views will always remain intact. The gardens effortlessly flow from an 80-foot elevation down to sea level, weaving around numerous winding paths with various landings and overlooks.