With a friend visiting from the City, we made an early summer visit to Stonecrop Gardens. The plants that were crammed into the conservatory—literally to the rafters—when we visited in early spring (see March 30, 2012) are now gone: sold, planted, or moved to other greenhouses. The 11-page list of plants that we faithfully brought with us is now obsolete, replaced by a new list with merely a hundred or so items.

The grounds are lushly green and, although we are now entering summer, many of the plants are colorfully in bloom. For example, while our peonies are done for the season, here there are several varieties that are just getting started. I suspect that with the diversity of plantings here, there will be something in bloom throughout the summer. We have become members and will make periodic visits to confirm this hypothesis.

We were delighted to see that one of their gardens (one that lay fallow when we visited in March) is focused on vegetables. The raised square plots, separated by pathways, are planted in ornamental configurations; like all of the other gardens, the layouts are driven by highly aesthetic principles. They did not ignore functionality, however, and everything looked to be thriving, including an impressive tangle of pea plants and some overgrown asparagus. The vegetables are protected by a high perimeter fence (decorated profusely with flowering plants) and a tall, matronly scarecrow.

Due to the dense flowers and heavy foliage, the gardens feel less open—many areas are already in deep shade—but that makes them no less lovely (verdant summers are one of my favorite aspects of weather in the northeast). And we were not the only creatures enjoying the views, especially around the water features. Many large snakes and several turtles—animals that we did not see in March—were sunning themselves on rocks or floating amidst the lily pads.