Maureen and Mike Ruettgers hosted yet another outstanding Open Day in their Carlisle, MA, garden on September 9. Well over five hundred garden lovers of all ages joined the festivities, many staying for hours, and many for the entire day.
The Gardens at Clock Barn are a touchstone for many generations of the Ruettgers family, and they want other families and individuals to experience the joys of tending to and enjoying a garden, and growing and sharing food together. To that end, they actively support the Open Days program, and have incorporated innovative special programming into their own Open Days. This year was no exception.
The Ruettgers planned something for everyone for this “Garden to Table: A Family Celebration.” Acclaimed local chef Ben Elliott, who lives the farm-to-table ethos, gave cooking demonstrations throughout the day, and offered boxed lunches made with seasonal fare grown on his nearby farm. Tables set up in the orchard were enjoyed by a myriad of guests. A bee keeper talked about the importance of pollinators and the techniques of her trade, and visitors were invited to make bee hotels for native pollinators. Scavenger hunts were popular with both young and old (who were challenged by a rare plant find), as was the lavender ice cream that kids were helping make and serve all day. Many were inspired by the straw bale gardening demonstrations.
Once again, the pizza garden, the scented geranium collection (marked “please touch!”), the bean teepee, and the fairy gardens were all big hits, although the brand new tree house, filled with binoculars and magnifying glasses with interesting specimens to investigate, certainly stole the show. Maureen and Mike, their expert gardening staff, and Gary Koller, who helped with the initial garden design, were available to answer questions throughout the day. Abigail Flanagan, daughter of Mike and Maureen and proprietor of Farm and Fable, had a pop-up shop which offered carefully curated goods for gardeners and cooks. All of this was set in the Ruettgers’ utterly stunning garden.
Maureen hopes to inspire other Garden Conservancy Fellows and Open Days hosts to get creative and make their own Open Days truly memorable and impactful events. The Ruettgers have certainly set a fabulous example by sharing their garden!
All photos by Liz J. Moseley