Van Vleck House hosts tours of stylish community gardens

MAY 26, 2015 LAST UPDATED: TUESDAY, MAY 26, 2015, 10:26 AM

Van Vleck Garden Manager Laura Roberts shows off some of the Gardens' new azaleas.

Van Vleck Garden Manager Laura Roberts shows off some of the Gardens’ new azaleas. STAFF PHOTO BY ADAM ANIK

For those Montclairites who feel most at home with their hands in the dirt of their garden, Van Vleck House & Gardens has a special treat planned. On Friday, May 29, and Saturday, May 30, Van Vleck’s annual “Roses to Rock Gardens” tour will take place.

The event features a self-guided tour from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. each day of eight of Montclair and Glen Ridge’s most distinctive gardens, as well as a public unveiling of Van Vleck’s newly renovated butterfly garden at 21 Van Vleck St. The tour begins on the terrace of Van Vleck with a lemonade refresher and some shopping at Rabbit Rabbit’s pop-up boutique.

On Friday morning at 9:30, guests can also attend a coffee reception and lecture at Van Vleck House by guest speaker Joseph Lelinho, beekeeper and owner of Hilltop Honey.

Tickets are $30 general admission, prepaid, or $35 at the door. Prices for Friends of Van Vleck are $25 prepaid and $30 at the door. To purchase tickets online, visit All the proceeds from “Roses to Rock Gardens” go to benefit historic Van Vleck House & Gardens, a nonprofit organization.

The event’s organizer, Wendy Renshaw-Lewis, said the gardens offer a wide variety of styles for garden enthusiasts. “There’s something for everyone,” said Renshaw-Lewis. “This year we have big gardens as well as small. Quite a few of our gardeners are very hands-on, and they’ve managed to create beautiful gardens, overcoming shady spots, hilly spots, deer, and all the other problems that we encounter in this area.

“They’ve built some amazing stuff,” she said, “and they’re very creative. One’s built his own stone patio, and there’s a place with a living roof on top the garage. There’s a tree house, and one has built his own irrigation system. We’ve got gardeners on this tour that keep bees, and there’s another who’s got an atelier apple orchard. So for garden enthusiasts, whether they’re starting a new garden or looking for ideas, there are a lot of interesting gardens. They’ve created some really pretty little oases around Montclair and Glen Ridge.”

In addition to the private gardens on the tour, Van Vleck itself has something new for summer fans. “This year we have our new butterfly garden opening at the end of May,” said Renshaw-Lewis, “so that ties in with the garden tour. And there’s a new edible garden going in that should be ready by June. So there’s lots to look at at Van Vleck as well.”

Renshaw-Lewis points out that any signs of life are welcome after a particularly brutal winter. “I have to say hats off to all the garden owners. I know a lot of people lost plants and trees and shrubs with all the really cold weather, and they’ve been working really hard these last few weeks trying to get everything to look as good as it can.”

In other words, it’s time for all green thumbs to get busy. Link to the article in