Miles of tree-lined back country roads define the bucolic essence of Jaffrey. While Hingham and Cohasset awe the visitor with the grandeur of its homes and estates, Jaffrey’s beauty resides in its unspoiled landscape of woods, fields, ponds, farms, and views of Mount Monadnock.
The Garden & Kitchen Tour of Jaffrey is an annual event and this year five couples opened their homes to eager visitors. Once again it was a perfect summer day – sunny with a refreshing breeze that kept the heat at bay.
Three homes offered tours of their kitchens whose styles ranged from contemporary to antique. Two of the kitchen renovations, completed by Renoir Renovations of Jaffrey, involved knocking down walls to triple the original kitchen area. This makes sense given that kitchens are often the focal area for entertaining and require adequate space for the modern appliances that now define a well-equipped kitchen. Today’s wonderfully designed cabinets provide ample storage space and pull out shelving that make it easy to organize and access all of your kitchen equipment and staples. These kitchens can inspire even the most reluctant cook to make meals.
As for the gardens, the following were the stars of the tour for me:
- The working farm of Bonnie & Jeff Cutter. Former dairy farmers, this couple has worked hard to clear acres of overgrowth to reveal rolling fields with a view of Mount Monadnock, a small fishing pond, and areas for flower and vegetable gardens. Bonnie, who works seventy hours a week at a local garden center, somehow finds the time to create and maintain her beautiful gardens.But for her, it’s pure joy. “My bare hands cannot contain themselves when it comes to gardening,” declares Bonnie. The vegetable garden reflects her sense of humor and whimsy, starting with a wooden door with paned glass at the entrance to let you know that this is her favorite room of the house. She has transformed the foundation of what was once a sauna building into a floral and sculpture display. From a certain angle, it looks as if the reflecting globe is resting in the pair of cupped hands.
- The property of Tuesday & Dennis Wright. They have also carved out a garden paradise in the woods of Jaffrey. Selective clearing of overgrowth in the wooded areas helps to showcase native trees and plants. They have created a path through a wooded hill area and provided seating to further enjoy the property.In the sunny areas near their home, I especially enjoyed the Victorian style garden enclosed by an elegant wrought iron fence. When you have an expanse of property, it helps to define garden areas with a boundary such as a stone wall or a fence. In the flower beds at the foot of a hill in the back, I particularly liked the combination of flowering hostas with astilbe and daylilies.
During the tour, we stopped for lunch in downtown Jaffrey, which has a variety of small shops and restaurants. This lovely town center also features a town common and gazebo where band concerts are held throughout the summer.
The town center reflects the efforts of TEAM Jaffrey, a Main Street program that is dedicated to the revitalization of downtown. The funds raised from the kitchen and garden tour support sign and facade grant incentives for local business and property owners, and continues to support seasonal plantings in the Main Street area.
These Main Street programs throughout New England and the country help to restore and maintain the heart and soul of downtowns that have suffered in the last century when modernization shifted commerce from local communities to large companies and shopping areas elsewhere. Garden tours help to promote these revitalization efforts by showcasing progress made and raising awareness of work left to be done.