The gardens of Cheryl and Victor Hamel in Belmont. Courtesy of the Hamels

BELMONT – When Cheryl and Victor Hamel retired from Lowell, Massachusetts to an 80-acre property in Belmont five years ago, their gardening opportunities – and challenges – increased exponentially.

Today, the years of digging, dreaming and designing have yielded nine garden areas for the public to discover and enjoy on Friday, July 29, during the Belfast Garden Club’s seasonal celebration of area gardens.

The Hamels’ garden at 661 Lincolnville Road in Belmont will be open from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., rain or shine. Admission, which supports the club’s public service projects, is $5. The garden is the sixth of 10 private gardens the club is showcasing this summer during its Open Garden Days Fridays through Aug. 26.

The Hamels maintain five acres of their 80-acre property. Cheryl was a music teacher, Victor an interior designer. Their gardens feature a mix of shrubs and perennials, including garden phlox, lilies, quince, honeysuckle and spirea.

The most difficult jobs were clearing out weeds and grass from the existing and new gardens, says Victor Hamel. They were able to improve soil with compost.  

“Our gardens are a work in progress as we find out which plants, and combination of plants, work well,” Hamel says. “We hope that our visitors will enjoy the results of our endeavors.”

The couple also keeps a kitchen herb garden and has ten raised vegetable beds surrounded by a wire mesh fence.

“We are trying to make peace with the deer, chipmunks, squirrels, and woodchucks,” Hamel jokes.

For details and the complete Open Garden Days schedule, visit Proceeds support the garden club’s school programs, camp scholarships, library donations, and Belfast’s public gardens.