The heart of summer’s colors shine brightly as Belfast Garden Club features the neighboring gardens of Joan Bennett and Andrea Whyte from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Friday, July 29 at 29 & 37 Bridge Street in Belfast.

Neighbors and gardening friends Joan Bennett and Andrea Whyte were each gardening in their respective yards one day a few years back, when Andrea said, “Joan, you sound like you’re very nearby.”

They started cutting their way through a hedge of runaway Japanese knotweed and “The Secret Way“ tunnel now connecting the gardens was born. Today the two small, delightful gardens run together almost as one.

Joan’s garden is enjoying its sixth season of summer blooms. The ever-expanding garden started when the Bennetts moved to the property’s lower condo unit. Joan, also a member of the Garden Club’s Civic Beautification Committee who plays a role in the planting and maintaining several of the city’s downtown gardens, discovered the condo’s lawn area was hers to play with.

Beginning from scratch, she has tamed the grass, weeds and knotweed and installed a beautiful wavy swath of summer perennial blooms along a split rail fence. All the plants enjoy the sunny sea air; bursts of rosy pink bee balm, white and blue hydrangea, and silky lilies play off one another dropping off to a fantastic view of Belfast’s working harbor, and the new Front Street Shipyard.

Several large flower beds around the property provide beauty for all who live in the building above and are accented with playful garden sculptures. A bed by the street, “Poets Corner” is named in honor of a poet living in one of the condos facing the garden.

Tall spires of hollyhock and Coreopsis are highlighted with magenta poppy mallow creatively drifting low to the ground. At the border of the two properties is a hosta and daylily bed featuring lush foliage and lilies of all colors and scents around some creative stonework which directs drainage from higher up the hill through the garden, without demolishing the plants.

Some of Bennett’s plants came from Andrea’s divided plants next door. Whyte’s garden was started several generations ago by her late-husband’s grandmother and boasts some garden beds of perennials more than 60 years old. The central bed, dubbed “Middle Earth”, blossoms with heirloom favorites including Phlox, bee balm, lilies and mallow around a central fieldstone pathway and birdbath.

New additions and beds have come about over the years surrounding a large, sloped, grassy lawn beneath a towering willow tree. The garden includes many shady trees and shrubs including variegated willow, Carpathian walnut, blue spruce and Spiraea, and offers several relaxing spaces for reflecting in the shade. Heirloom hydrangea, hollyhock, hosta, and fanciful oriental lilies in layers around the well-kept shingled home give a charming, old-fashioned cottage feel.

A large bed of Echinacea and black-eyed Susan will be in the height of their bloom. Stones and garden sculpture dot the vegetative landscape. Whyte’s garden plays on a nautical ambiance with the use of shells, a small garden bubbler and a rowboat dry-docked in a garden bed.

Directions: From the center of Belfast, go north one block on High Street to a right on Bridge Street. Follow the yellow Open Garden signs.

Tickets for Belfast Garden Club’s Open Garden Days 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 2011 Garden Tour will benefit the Club’s civic beautification projects.

The sixth annual Belfast Garden Club Open Garden Days features 13 gardens in the Belfast area (Belfast, Belmont, Searsport, Searsmont, Bayside and Northport). One garden per week will be open to the public from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., Fridays through August 26, rain or shine.

BGC Open Garden Days next garden will be Friday, August 5 at the Webster Garden, 746 Shore Road, Bayside. Creative landscaping and hearty perennials planted in a berm were needed here at the ocean’s edge where salt mist and wind off the ocean would damage more fragile plant choices.

A second berm planted with cedar, dogwood and Japanese maple trees and hosta was created at the roadside to provide friendly privacy. Other garden features include a small pond and waterfall built by 14-year-old son, vintage birdbath, whimsical birdhouse and window boxes and wicker baskets on mailbox posts. Step down to deck just above the ocean for enchanting view of harbor.

For more information about Belfast Garden Club’s Open Garden Days, contact Diane Allmayer-Beck at 948-2815 at 338-3105, by email at belfastgardenclub@gmail.com, or visit belfastgardenclub.org.