The next stop for Belfast Garden Club’s Open Garden Days will be Friday, July 16, from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. at the gardens of neighbors Col. Manley Rogers and Sara and Arthur Hayes, 27 & 35 Church St.

Rogers, who as a teen worked in his father’s gardens and at some commercial farms in Waterville, where he grew up, has rekindled the interest of his youth at his Belfast property, where he has gardened since 1983. His home, at 27 Church St., is one of the historic residences featured on the Belfast Historical Society Walking Tour. It is an exquisite example of the Greek Revival architectural style built in 1843 with a former carriage-and-sleigh-for-hire service barn attached.

Rogers’ garden features raised vegetable beds overflowing with summer delights such as broccoli, peas, cucumbers, tomatoes and salad greens. Rogers is an enthusiast of the YardScaping method of gardening and yard maintenance, which strives to minimize pesticides, herbicides, fertilizer and watering of lawns in order to grow healthier crops, while also protecting natural water resources. Despite the lack of chemical pest control, Rogers’ tomatoes grow tall and green in their supportive cages; he is having an incredible harvest of peas and greens, and already has a head of broccoli nearly ready to be eaten.

How is his garden so abundant? To begin with, Rogers plants the healthiest seeds and seedlings possible; this year many were planted as starts from the Heirloom Garden of Maine in Montville. Once home, he gives each plant the best possible beginning by planting in soil that has been hand-sifted to remove rocks, and supplemented heavily with manured compost from Travis Keene. This method of combining compost and sifting makes aerated, rich soil that his vegetables clearly love.

A heavy black plastic mulch covers the ground between plants, keeping the earth moist, reducing the need for watering, and preventing the weeds from being able to freely grow, which eliminates the need for chemical weed suppressant. Plants such as zucchini, cucumbers, squash and lettuces are interspersed with pest-repelling flowers and herbs such as calendula, salvia, marigolds and basil. Of course, a bit of physical bug-picking is also needed, but in general, the results in his pesticide-free garden are fantastic, and Rogers has been enjoying his yield already in a daily lunchtime salad.

In addition to the raised beds and information about YardScaping, visitors will enjoy Rogers’ giant (up to 10′ feet tall) patch of cultivated raspberries, a compost bin, cold frame and the beauty of next winter’s wood already neatly stacked.

Next door at 35 Church St., the Hayeses’ garden offers the manicured style of a formal flower garden at their stately brick Greek Revival home built in 1846, and designed by the same architect as the Rogers home.

Arthur Hayes grew up in Belfast and experimented with growing plants as a child. After living and working in Connecticut for many years, he and his wife returned to Belfast, settling next door to his childhood home. They started their garden project six years ago from scratch, after much of the previous garden area needed to be removed during construction of their beautiful brick and glass solarium.

Under the guidance and assistance of landscaper Steve Moody, beds of perennials, including summer-blooming delphinium, daisies and coreopsis mix tastefully with evergreens such as Hayes’ favorite Weeping Alaskan Cedar, and flowering shrubs like hydrangea and mountain laurel. The beds radiate around the house in a two-tiered planting that surrounds a lovely rock wall designed by Mark White. The impressively tall horse chestnut and maple trees bordering the Rogers property create a lovely canopy under which more shade-loving plants thrive, including huge jack-in-the-pulpits, Hostas and native ferns.

The Hayeses credit the liberal addition of compost from Kinney Compost in Knox to their soil for the quick growth of their relatively young garden project, as well as starting with healthy plants from Hidden Gardens and Fernwood Gardens.

The Hayeses’ list of notable plantings in bloom during the tour includes a substantial collection of day lilies of all colors and large and varied hostas, both transplanted from their former home in Connecticut. Also, expect a dazzling display of more than 12 varieties of David Austin roses in rich cream, bright reds and pinks which cast a glorious scent throughout the yard.

In addition, three spectacular varieties of spiky flowered Ligularia will be special outdoor blooming highlights. Step inside the glass and brick conservatory, which will also be open to the public, to admire their beautiful collection of eight varieties of orchids, which include phalionopsis and dendronium.

Directions to the Hayes and Rogers Gardens at 27 and 35 Church St., Belfast: At Post Office Square in downtown Belfast follow Church Street southeast (away from town in the direction of the hospital) to 27 on the left, where you will get your ticket. 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 fifth 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 23, at Durham and Cole neighbors’ gardens, 30 and 31 Condon Street, Belfast. Durham garden (31) has established perennial beds and features century-old trees. The Cole garden (30) is a work in progress, starting from scratch. This is the second year the gardener has been working to create sunny perennial gardens with flowering bushes.

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