WILTON — Between raindrops and sometimes in the rain, Susan Atwood works to improve and add color to the numerous gardens around her business, the Wilson Lake Inn.
Weeping trees, including cherry, many new beds and new plant material around boulders impressed community judges enough for them to award her Yard of the Month for June.
The monthly acknowledgment of a local garden, coordinated by Rocky Hill Landscaping and Nursery in Wilton, recognizes gardens with a variety of plant material and those that are weedless, neat and clean, said John Black from Rocky Hill. Community members are enlisted as judges, some with gardening skills, some without, who look for the nontraditional, the neatness of not just the gardens but the driveway and yard, he said.
Atwood’s garden and others will be featured on the Tyngtown Club’s garden tour on July 18. Proceeds from the tour of gardens in Wilton and Weld, with a box lunch provided, will benefit the Wilton Free Public Library.
During the five years Atwood and her husband, Thomas Whalen, have owned the motel, she has worked to put in new beds. One extends 75 feet and another 80 feet.
The couple won a Lake Smart award last year for implementing garden elements that minimize erosion along the motel’s lakeside property. The award was given by the state’s Department of Environmental Protection. Using stones, plants and a special erosion control mulch, a buffer zone was created to protect the shoreland, Whalen said.
“It’s still a work in progress,” Atwood explained of the stone-lined walkway she has planned. Gardens have been added to the motel’s backyard with some plants placed around large boulders and white birches.
It could take an hour to stroll through the many plantings in the front and back of the motel, she said.
With a longtime interest in gardening, Atwood has created almost a memory garden. As she walks through the grounds, she remembers friends and customers with whom she has traded plants, she said. Out-of-state guests have added to her gardens as they have swapped varieties of plants.
She organized a small plant swap this year and hopes to expand it next year. It’s a great way to share, she said.
The motel property has provided lots of land to establish gardens all over the yard, she said. Many were done with the help of employee Daniel Deveau of Wilton, she said.
The beauty of gardening is “there is no right or wrong way, it’s whatever pleases you,” she said. “If you don’t like the colors or combination of plants, move them. It’s always a work in progress.”
As a participant in the Tyngtown Club’s garden tour, Atwood has picnic tables on the grounds where those touring the gardens can stop and enjoy their box lunch, she said.
A presale of tickets will help club members determine the number of lunches to prepare. They are now available at Rocky Hill Landscaping in East Wilton, Calico Patch in Farmington and the Hatchery in Weld. Tickets may be also purchased on the day of the event at the library where participants need to stop to pick up their garden tour maps, brochures and their lunches.
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The gardens created by Susan Atwood at Wilson Lake Inn in Wilton will be included in the Tyngtown Club’s Garden Tour on July 18. Atwood is pictured in one garden created around large boulders in the motel’s back yard.

There’s always another weed to pull, making gardens a work in progress. Gardens created by Susan Atwood at Wilson Lake Inn in Wilton will be included in the Tyngtown Club’s Garden Tour on July 18. Atwood takes a minute to pull a weed or two while showing one small garden created around large boulders in the motel’s back yard.


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