Story and Photos by Catherine McGuigan
Hospitality in Bellevue might as well be nicknamed white on rice. It’s everywhere: on the smiling faces of the residents; in the brightly painted storefronts of MacArthur; and in the well-maintained landscapes on every block. Gardening appears to be a hobby of every resident in Bellevue. I have honestly never seen a neighborhood in which not one single house has a yard that borders on obnoxious. So saying, I believe that every resident of Bellevue could have offered to open their yards to neighbors for a few hours on May 5 for the 24th Annual Bellevue Garden Walk
A better date couldn’t have been chosen for the Walk. The sky was a muddled grey throughout the day, threatening rain but never delivering it; the effect was that of the whole world appearing to pulsate with life. For an event focused on plants, nothing could have been better. The tour started off on the corner of Hermitage and Bellevue in the backyard of a Tudor reminiscent of Agecroft Hall. Guests followed the pebble driveway to the back where they were greeted by the owners and offered ginger snaps and sweet tea. Magnolias hung over a rectangular fish pond, and rows of hedges and flowers lined the back of the house.
The rest of the houses from then on did not disappoint. The alpacas from Christmas on MacArthur made another appearance as well. Walkers were encouraged to take handfuls of food and let the gentle creatures lap up the bits. Another house over on Nottaway had a backyard that reflected the persona of its owner, Helen Campbell, who runs 4025 Yoga. At the rear of the property stands a shack you might see on the beach along the coast, with natural flooring, screens to let air in, and candles situated around in clusters—all the handiwork of Helen’s husband, Chris Egghart. Their yard was balanced on one side by a small fish pond with ornamental grasses draping over its sides and on the other with an even row of bushes to tie up the whole effect.
Another favorite was Suzie Corbett’s yard which had been landscaped by a close friend of hers to create a veritable back yard botanical garden. Unfortunately, the evening was settling in as we passed through the last couple of backyards so we were unable to hit the last one on the list; however, the one we did end on provided a perfect atmosphere. When we walked in, the last few people were trickling out. Allan Levenberg and a musical cohort were playing folk tunes on a banjo and fiddle. For a while we just sat around, listening to the tunes and chatting with the owners of the peaceful little yard.
The thing about this year’s garden walk is that there was diversity. Focuses varied. Some gardens were all about flowering plants, others seemed to be essays on feng shui, and others still reflected ease and comfort as if you could idle away an entire summer there. Every host extended a warmth of hospitality. If you didn’t get a chance to mill around the neighborhood this May, make sure you mark your calendar for next year’s Walk.