Bland Banwell’s tranquil in-town garden, at 133 Miller St., Belfast, will be open to the public Friday June 8, from 10 a.m.-4 p.m., the second garden on display for The Belfast Garden Club 2012 Open Garden Days.

The garden is a work of art; curving paths invite visitors to enjoy nooks and wander around corners through garden beds brimming with lovely combinations of climbing vines, perennials, edibles, shrubs and trees. Colors, textures, light and shadows echo throughout the yard, weaving in and out of this living tapestry. Banwell, a master gardener with a background in art and music, avoids rigid lines of square beds and straight paths when she can. “Lines that are curved and overlapping keep one’s eye moving through the space,” she said. The technique works to make the garden visually warm and welcoming and to give it a spacious feel. The house lot on which the garden has been developed is only a half-acre, though it feels like an almost endless retreat to explore. Stone walls and trellising provide structure and envelop the scene with classic New England-style definition.

Banwell designed the space from the inside out to bring year-round enjoyment for her husband and mother, who had both been ailing and spending a lot of time indoors during the garden’s planning and implementation. Orienting each cluster of plants within the vantage point of comfortable chairs within the house brings beautiful views to those inside. Banwell has focused on the structural beauty of her shrubs and bushes by pruning the low-growth of spring bloomers such as lilacs and forsythia heavily, leaving the greenery and flowers high up to enjoy while revealing strong sculptural gestures with the angular crossings of the few branches that remain below. One particularly gorgeous example is the willow in a street-side corner of the dooryard garden. The willow’s branches curve architecturally across their outdoor canvas as cathedral arches, or the frame of a stained glass window. The white and pink variegated leaves of its summer dress shimmer overhead.

In the time since the Belfast Garden Club’s previous Open Garden Day here in 2010, several new beds have been added, there are new stone paths and outcroppings, grapes have been trellised and highlighted, and there are many new flowers and edibles. Variations in weather make the art of predicting exactly what will be in bloom on any specific date a gamble, but visitors might look for early summer flowers such as peony, nepita (catmint), hawthorn, late-blooming lilacs, sage, iris and clematis. If you have enjoyed Banwell’s garden in the past, it is still worth another visit. The bank of roses on street-side trellises will likely welcome guests with a heavenly scent. If you’re extra lucky you may visit while the sounds of Banwell practicing her piano dance along with the flowers around you. Bring a picnic to enjoy on a garden bench.

Directions to the Banwell Garden, 133 Miller St., Belfast:

From the Belfast intersection of Main and High streets, take High Street to Miller Street at the Public Library. Go up Miller to the house with the trellis fence on the right. Once you get close follow yellow Open Garden arrows. Please park along the street. Wheelchair accessible.

Next week

The next BGC Open Garden Day will be Friday, June 15, at the Sears Garden, Airmail Lane, Belfast. This Japanese-style garden features rhododendrons, rugosa roses, hostas, rocks and terracing in a beautiful seaside garden.

For seven consecutive years, Belfast Garden Club has presented Open Garden Days, a garden tour series, this year will featuring 13 gardens in the Belfast area. One garden will be open to the public each Friday, 10 a.m.-4 p.m., through Aug. 24, plus the first Fridays of September and October. 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 2012 Open Garden Days benefit the Club’s civic beautification projects.

For more information about Belfast Garden Club’s Open Garden Days call Diane Allmayer-Beck at 338-3105, email, or visit