Hancock library fundraiser features local garden and the art it inspired

  • A tour of Bill and Eileen Elliot's spectacular home gardens features in an upcoming fundraiser for Hancock's library. June 7, 2021. Staff photo by Abbe Hamilton—

  • A tour of Bill and Eileen Elliot’s spectacular home gardens features in an upcoming fundraiser for Hancock’s library. Staff photo by Abbe Hamilton

  • A tour of Bill and Eileen Elliot's spectacular home gardens features in an upcoming fundraiser for Hancock's library. June 7, 2021. Staff photo by Abbe Hamilton—

  • A tour of Bill and Eileen Elliot's spectacular home gardens features in an upcoming fundraiser for Hancock's library. June 7, 2021. Staff photo by Abbe Hamilton—

Monadnock Ledger-Transcript
Published: 6/10/2021 11:04:11 AM

Hancock’s Bill and Eileen Elliott have devoted much of the last 40 years to cultivating a spectacular home garden. This past year, it inspired two local artists to create throughout the pandemic, and an upcoming library fundraiser features both the garden and the artwork it inspired.

“Bloom with a View” is a garden tour and art exhibit featuring the Elliott’s Mayplace Gardens, and the artwork they inspired. Local artists Kim Cunningham and Evelien Bachrach spent lots of time over the past year sketching in the gardens, and they and the Elliotts, who are frequent library patrons, came up with the idea for the event after a fruitful year of creative collaborations, Hancock Town Library Director Amy Markus said.

The Elliotts have cultivated a dizzying array of flowers and ornamental trees and shrubs on their Depot Road property in the 40 years since they moved in, clearing dense forest by hand and incrementally improving their off-the-grid home and property on a shoestring budget.

“This is what we do,” Eileen Elliott said white potting flowers on Monday. “We don’t go out to eat, we don’t do anything – we buy plants,” she said. Their current specialties are magnolias and peonies, but their gardens bear remnants of earlier fascinations, like daylily varieties, she said. Over the years, their property has been featured in Yankee Magazine and Country Gardens, and was on the Garden Conservancy’s national garden tour twice. Eileen estimated that, together, she and Bill spend nine hours a day just keeping up with everything they’ve planted. “If you’re crazy, as we are … this is what two people working hard can do,” she said.

“We started this almost exactly a year ago,” Cunningham said. She and Bachrach visited the garden to cheer themselves up, after which Bachrach suggested they return to sketch. Although they initially thought they’d come just once or twice, they returned just about every week during the summer, and every month throughout the winter to sketch in the snow. “I don’t think either of us have ever sketched this much in one place before,” Cunningham said. “It was this really great respite from COVID,” she said, as they watched the garden change throughout the season and deepened their friendship with the Elliotts. Although, understandably, the Elliotts tend to see the work that needs to be done when they regard their garden, the artists would point out the tiny details they noticed and send photos after their sketch sessions, Cunningham said, and the Elliotts told them it helped them to have a new appreciation for their own garden.

Converting the sketches to artwork with Bachrach was another mood enhancer during the winter, Cunningham said. “It’s so interesting because we have very different styles,” she said., created very different interpretations of the same original image. The art show will feature some of the initial sketches to show the artistic process behind the finished works, she said.

“Bloom with a View” ticketholders can tour the garden anytime on Saturday, June 19 from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., and garden-inspired art by Cunningham and Bachrach will be on display in the Daniels Room of the library. All proceeds benefit the Friends of the Library, Markus said: the library lost revenue last year since it was unable to hold its traditional book sale, and an outdoor community event seemed like just the thing to do as the region begins to come out of a year in isolation.

Tickets are $20, and admission is free for children under 12. Mayplace Gardens is located at 191 Depot Road. Roadside parking is limited, so carpooling is recommended and the intrepid can walk in from the Hancock Depot parking area, Markus said. No pets in the garden, please.


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