NORTHPORT — The Belfast Garden Club kicks off their 2021 Open Garden Day season, June 25, at the summer home of Martha and Sid Block of Northport, from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.
Two separate side-by-side oceanfront cottages located at 14 and 16 Bay Street, in the historic Bayside neighborhood, offer sweeping views of the bay and the rocky shoreline. The tour also includes the interior of the 16 Bay Street cottage.
People are invited to come enjoy a moment by the sea, bring a bag lunch to eat on the back deck with iced tea and water provided. Carpooling is suggested as parking is limited on Bay Street. There is no parking in front of 14 and 16 Bay Street except to drop off or pick up passengers, and no parking at all in front of other water side cottages on Bay Street. Limited parking is available on the opposite side of the street as well as at nearby Ruggles Park by the public dock.
A $5 donation is requested to help sustain club operations, with any additional support welcomed.
The small cottage gardens, which share steps to the bay, were created 15 years apart on hillsides overlooking the water. Faced with a steep drop-off to the shore, the Blocks designed a unique tiered-style garden using Blue Rug Juniper to help hold the soil and prevent erosion. White geraniums visually separate sections of green. The street-facing garden is shady by comparison, with big blue hostas lining a side path interspersed with lavender, peonies and backed by an old-fashioned climbing rose covering the cottage wall.
Martha Block said she likes to plant her garden for scent, color, and structure, according to the Garden Club, in a news release. When the couple bought the 16 Bay cottage in the 80s, one of the first plants she started with was a lilac bush. In 2010, the couple purchased the 14 Bay Street cottage and built the current garden three years ago.
The garden features a curved stone walk leading to the deck stairs and flanked by peonies, hostas, geraniums, and recently planted irises.
The Blocks, who are originally from New York, moved to the Orrington area in the 70s.
“The first few years we’d take rides, and one day we took that left by the Bayside Store...,” Martha said. “We were intrigued.”
They eventually moved to Belfast and later to Northport to be closer to their cottage.
“We used to make fun of people who have summer camps five minutes away,” she said.
Living so close to their summer cottage now, Martha said, enables her to have gardens in both spots. Her cottage gardens she describes as “a little bit of heaven.”
Proceeds from fundraising support the Belfast Garden Club’s work in the community. The club plants and maintains ten public gardens and provides annual support to an innovative gardening program at Troy Howard Middle School, and provides scholarships for children's summer camp experiences.