The Secret Gardens of Middletown, N.Y.

By Yvonne Marcotte, Epoch Times
July 1, 2015 4:23 pm Last Updated: July 14, 2015 6:30 am

MIDDLETOWN–On a slightly overcast June 26, Middletown homeowners who love their gardens opened them to the public. Visitors also enjoyed the gardens at the SUNY Orange Middletown campus with guidance from knowledgeable docents.

The Paul and Malini Chellappa garden resulted from converting a large backyard swimming pool into Malini’s “sanctuary.” In the center is a koi pond with lily pads. “No matter how tired I am it rejuvenates me,” she writes in the tour guide.

Renate and Bob Moson’s garden began to take shape when they moved in. “It was woodsy and wild with an overgrowth of all sorts of vines, weeds, saplings and shrubs. We pruned, removed, and replanted.”

Ellerin and Michael Diefenbach built their garden hideaway around a garden room, terrace, and pool. A natural wall of what Ellerin calls her “Cape Cod roses” grace one side. “Our home and yard exude a warm, comforting, and friendly vibe.”

The SUNY Orange Middletown campus is committed to sustainability and its gardens highlighted that commitment. Biologist Shelly Paradies showcased the xeriscape garden to highlight water conservation. The various plants shows visitors ways to “tackle the issues of finite water amounts and longer and drier periods due to climate change,” according to the tour brochure.

Just around the corner Kate Honders stood in the native woodland garden to explain how a shade garden can work within a natural wooded area. In a lower part of campus, Kirsten Gabrielson, sustainability coordinator, and greenhouse curator Jody Donnelly showcased the wetland garden. The garden illustrates a “natural approach to pond filtration that enhances the aesthetic value of a low area.

Middletown’s Garden Lovers’ Club contributes greatly to the beauty of Orange County. Members provide monthly garden therapy sessions for seniors at adult care facilities, sponsor children to attend the DEC’s Camp DeBruce, plant flowers in Middletown parks, maintain a garden at the Greenville fitness entrance, restore the herb garden at Campbell Hall’s Hill-Hold museum, and have a program for junior gardeners.