Just out of the way of the hustle and bustle of Route 3 lies a cool, peaceful retreat, the garden of Gail Berry, nestled under and around a lush canopy of trees at 10 Edgecomb Road. Fanciful sculpture, birdbaths and birdhouses are integrated into the landscape design with a lovely array of shade and sunny plantings. The Berry garden is open to the public Friday, July 2, from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., as part of the 2010 Belfast Garden Club Open Garden Days.

The Berrys moved to this beautiful hilltop property 35 years ago. “There was nothing here but lawn and roadside brambles,” Berry recalled. Though she did not grow up gardening, now that she and her husband had a place of their own, Berry decided to start experimenting with beautifying the new homestead with plants.

She started with trees. “All of these trees you see here, I planted as tiny seedlings,” she said, pointing to sweeping, stately maples towering over the house. Soon she was hooked. Berry cleared sections of woody brush, hand-dug new beds and adopted plants whenever she could.

Many of the plantings have special family significance; a spruce from her grandfather’s farm, peonies from her godmother and a lilac from her daughter and son-in-law add a special ancestral touch. “Then I just kept going. I figured the more garden space I made, the less grass there would be to mow,” she said. “I love to be outdoors. The garden is my therapy.”

Today the property has blossomed into an oasis. The tall and healthy trees cast a refreshing, dappled shade on the front yard which bubbles with fountains, and calms the eye with the textures and colors of the varied shrubs and shade-tolerant plants growing there.

In addition, Berry has added many creative touches. Split-rail fencing, hand-built rock walls and paths create defining structure for the beds, and whimsical sculptures bring smiles to a visitor’s face at every turn. The Berry garden boasts the first-ever Ron Cowan live tree sculpture depicting an Indian woman peering out from within an apple tree.

What will be in bloom? As with all gardeners in the Northeast this year, Berry is confounded by the earliness of many of her flowering plants. During a preview of the garden there were many promising buds on traditional mid-summer flowers. Visitors to the Berry garden will certainly enjoy the respite of shade, birdsong, and the peaceful trickle of water in the fountains.

Bright summer flowers likely to be in bloom include bee balm, coneflower, Black-Eyed Susan, daisy-like gaillardia, a variety of daylilies, Japanese Lily and honeysuckle. Many shade plants, and a wide variety of shrubs and trees will be intriguing as well.

Directions to the Berry Garden, 10 Edgecomb Road, Belfast: From downtown Belfast, Take Route 3 west. Turn left after Perry’s Furniture on Edgecomb Road. Third house on left. Once you get close, follow yellow Open Garden arrows.

Tickets can be purchased at each garden, on the day of the tour for a donation of $4 for one garden, or $15 for a five-visit ticket. Proceeds from the 2010 Open Garden Days will benefit the Belfast Garden Club’s civic beautification projects.

The 5th annual Belfast Garden Club Open Garden Days feature 14 gardens from Belfast to Searsport, Jackson to Orland and in between. One garden per week will be open to the public from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Fridays, through Sept. 10.

The next Open Garden takes place Friday, July 16, at the Rogers and Hayes Neighbors’ Gardens, 27 & 35 Church St., Belfast Rogers’ (27), a former 1800s carriage and sleigh for hire service barn and grounds, evoke country living with stacked firewood, raised vegetable beds, heirloom raspberry patch and synthetic chemical-free lawn (with weeds). Hayes (35) offers a more manicured style. Outside, a variety of daylilies, roses, a trellis arch and flowering shrubs will catch your eye. Step inside the glass and brick conservatory to admire the orchid collection.

For more information call: Diane Allmayer-Beck at 338-3105 or Martha Laitin at 948-2815, or visit belfastgardenclub.org.