Friday, September 24, 2010

Garden renewal project benefits Adair and Littleton Garden Club

BETHLEHEM — Beautiful gardens don’t happen by chance. They take thoughtful planning and regular maintenance, including the digging and dividing of perennials on a regular basis to ensure strong healthy plants with lush blooms.

This year, the Adair Country Inn & Restaurant and the Littleton Garden Club have teamed up to renew the Inn’s gardens. The project has a two-fold goal: helping to restore the gardens, which were created in 1927 by the Olmstead brothers, famous for designing Central Park in New York City and many other public and private gardens across the country, and acting as a fundraising project for the Garden Club, which will sell some of the divided perennials at their annual sale on September 25 at the Community House in Littleton, and use others of the plants in the many municipal gardens they maintain in the community.

“The Adair gardens need a lot of time and attention,” says innkeeper Ilja Chapman, “and I was looking for a group to help restore them.” She found that group in the Littleton Garden Club, an organization now in its 76th year, whose mission includes the beautification of Littleton and promoting environmental awareness. The almost two-dozen Garden Club members plant and care for 23 public gardens in the Littleton community, and provide outreach through garden programs with children and the elderly.

The lovely gardens and grounds at the Adair Country Inn & Restaurant were laid out in 1927 when the house was built as a wedding gift from Frank Hogan, a famous Washington, D.C. lawyer, to his only daughter, Dorothy Adair Guider. Over the years the gardens were maintained and added to by Mrs. Guider, a member of both the Littleton Garden Club and the White Mountain Garden Club, who died in 1991. The Inn is now owned by Betsy and Nick Young and managed by innkeepers Ilja and Brad Chapman.

On September 9, members of the Garden Club began what everyone hopes will be a multi-year project, digging and dividing the many perennials that border the Inn’s patio. Among the finds were phlox, bee balm, Siberian iris and peony.
“These plants are unique,” says Betsy Fraser, the incoming president of the Garden Club. “They are old-fashioned, not hybrids, and are quite desirable. Some of the peonies may be original to the garden.”

Sue Sorlucco, president of the Garden Club and a Master Gardener, agrees. She noted that the peonies, especially, have exceptionally large and sturdy roots and could, indeed, date from 1927. Peonies are known to be long-lived, some surviving 100 years or more.

The patio just off the Inn’s living room was chosen for the first year’s project. In good weather, meals are often served here and guests can relax and contemplate the far views of the mountains or the long sweep of lawns and the many gardens that are closer by.

On the day of the “dig” the patio was a flurry of activity. Spading forks, shovels and knives helped to make quick work of the digging, dividing and replanting that was taking place. Ilja, worried that all of the seeming disorder wouldn’t pay off, was quickly reassured by the gardeners that, “You always have to make a mess before you see results!”

Tammy Thompson, who oversees the gardens two days a week for Ilja, worked alongside the Garden Club members, offering her observations as caretaker of the gardens. Although she “can’t keep up with the gardens,” on a part-time basis because of her other duties at the Inn, she feels peaceful when working in them. “I always feel she’s (Mrs. Guider) watching me.”

The work of the Garden Club members didn’t end when they picked up their tools and loaded their cars with the perennials they received in exchange for dividing the plants. Some of the perennials will be planted in the many gardens that the Garden Club tends in Littleton. “It’s really nice to know that these historic plants will have a new life in some of the Club’s municipal gardens!” says Betsy Fraser.
The remainder will be potted up and offered for sale on September 25 on the Community House lawn during the Littleton Art Show. Along with the Adair plants, the Garden Club will be selling daffodil bulbs, candles, and garden gloves.

“We’d like this to be an ongoing project,” says Ilja. “We’re thrilled with what the Littleton Garden Club was able to accomplish and delighted that some of the Adair Country Inn & Restaurant’s plants will benefit the Garden Club as well as be shared with other gardeners.”

For information about the Adair Country Inn & Restaurant call 444-2600 or click on For information about the Littleton Garden Club, including membership opportunities, call Sue Sorlucco at 444-2061 or email her at

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