Winter Gardening

In the dead of winter, when snow blankets the ground . . . and then more snow blankets that snow, because this is Upstate New York . . . even the mysterious Head Gardener can only garden for a few hours a day.

Yes, eventually, even he is driven to seek shelter from the elements. When this happens, you may wonder, what does the Head Gardener turn to? Why, smithing, of course.

During the winter months, the Head Gardener smiths. Generally, he makes between five and ten of each of his creations before moving on to a new masterpiece. Over the upcoming weeks, we’ll be displaying some of his work here.

Daffodils on  Sycamore Branch

Schedule a 2016 Weekday Garden Ramble for your group of 20-36 guests

Schedule a 2016 Weekday Garden Ramble for your group of 20-36


Last summer we developed a very successful small event format at Sycamore Hill Gardens, our Weekday Garden Rambles. These garden tours receive excellent reviews and and make a nice midmorning to mid afternoon outing. They include a Daniel’s Grill catered box lunch with artisan sandwich, salad, house made chips, cookies, brownies as well and beverages-ice tea, water and lemonade.


During the event we make good use of the garden’s six-passenger golf cart giving tours to anyone who has difficulty walking or just prefers riding to rambling. We make frequent stops to answer your questions as well as those from ramblers we meet along the way. At noon, we meet on the patio for lunch where everyone has time for additional questions during the meal. After lunch we resume the golf cart tours and personal meanderings for an hour or so before the ramble ends. This makes for a nice, low-key day with plenty of personal interaction for you and the people you want to bring together. Perfect for family and friends, clubs, small reunions or meet-up groups.


These events are tailored for 30 to 36 guests with close parking, golf cart pick up as needed, and are held on a rain or shine basis. They offer a great opportunity for a quiet visit to the gardens during the summer months in between our spring and fall large charity fundraisers.


Come see what’s in bloom, enjoy lunch on the patio, and have plenty of time for questions, garden history, plant lore, and anecdotes.

George and His Team, Early 1970s
George and His Team, Early 1970s

For further details, lunch choices, pricing, etc. contact us through this website, or from our Facebook page, and we’ll help you organize your own private Sycamore Hill Gardens Weekday Ramble!

We look forward to hearing from you,

Karen & George Hanford/owners Sycamore Hill Gardens

CNY Reads One Book Garden Ramble

Three Library Rambles will be held this year to benefit the CNY Reads One Book program. The first is on Thursday, June 16 from 9:30 to 2:00; the second is Wednesday, June 22 from 4:30 till Dusk; and the final ramble is Tuesday, June 28 from 9:30 to 2:00. Each includes a catered meal on the patio overlooking the Sycamore Hill Gardens large Koi ponds.

For anyone with difficulty walking, a six passenger golf cart and knowledgeable driver are available to tour the 35 acres of gardens. Also provided: map, restroom, Q&A sessions by garden owner Karen Hanford, and four terrier guides on request.

Enjoy a fun and relaxing time in the gardens, free to ramble or to simply enjoy a good book in a quiet and beautiful venue. Meal choices are available. For further details, please click on the images below.

Terrier Guide
Terrier Guide: No Pets Please

screen shot rambles photosscreen shot 16 reg rambles


Summer Solstice Garden Tour And Plant Sale

It is Sycamore Hill Gardens’ honor to host the annual CNY Land Trust Solstice garden event for this fine not for profit and its dedicated volunteers. Join us June 18, 2016 from 11-4 for a family-friendly day with live music provided by Genesee Ted and Willard Pratt, Yoga in the garden, nature oriented crafters, a YA Fantasy book sale & signing, a plant sale, and the fine fare of the Chicken Bandit Food Truck. Please see the poster for further details.

The CNY Land Trust is the wind beneath the wings of higher profile organizations such as Baltimore Woods Nature Center. The Land Trust’s mission centers around acquiring, and then preserving, land in its natural state. Each of these preserves is open to all, free of charge, for hiking, photography, and nature study from sunrise to sunset every day of the year. This preservation mission is an important part of keeping CNY a great place to live and raise a family. When you support the Land Trust, you support our entire community.

Looking forward to another great turnout and a fun day at Sycamore Hill Gardens. See you Saturday, June 18th!Garden-Tour-Landscape-Poster-2016_Thumbnail

Garden Tour for Syracuse Center for Peace & Social Justice

All proceeds to benefit the Syracuse Center for Peace &
Social Justice Accessibility Fund

Sunday, June 5, 2016
11 AM to 4 PM

Sycamore Hill Gardens
2130 Old Seneca Turnpike
Marcellus, NY 13108

Rain or shine. Bring a blanket & picnic! Free yoga from 2:00 to 3:00 PM

In conjunction with the garden tour there will be a beautiful scenic bike tour on some of the pretties country roads in CNY. The ride will be roughly 30 rolling miles and the $25 advance registration fee ($35 after May 29th) includes refreshments and admission to the gardens.
Please call Walter Putter to register for the bike tour: 315-449-4818.

Purchase General Admissions tickets at the Center for Peace & Social Justice
2013 East Genesee Street, Syracuse
or call Jerry Lotierzo 315-243-9823

Tickets: In advance, $5 or whatever you wish to donate
$10 at the door or whatever extra you can spare for the Accessibility Fund.

Kids under 8 admitted free
Free Parking
Refreshments Available

Your entire donation goes directly to the center’s Accessibility Fund, not for profit charities pay no fee for the use of Sycamore Hill Gardens as a fundraising venue.

Enjoy Spring at Sycamore Hill Gardens with WTB

May 15th      1:00PM – 5:00 PM     –      $10

Women Transcending Boundaries will host their annual Sycamore Hill Gardens fundraiser this Sunday, May 15 from 1-5. Please follow this link to their webpage,, to learn more about this event and their many fine local programs. The gardens will be in full spring bloom including daffodils, tulips, flowering shrubs and these lovely Dogtooth violets. Bring a picnic, bring friends and family and enjoy a quiet and beautiful afternoon. For the comfort of our guests, no pets, please.


Mother’s Day Garden Tour

Happy spring! The gardens are looking delicious and speaking of delicious, this year, for the first time ever, the Chicken Bandit Food Truck will be at Sycamore Hill Gardens on Mother’s Day. So pack a lunch or treat Mom to a complete day off! See you Sunday, May 8th from 11-4. Free parking, children 8 and under pay no admission. No pets please.

For more information and to purchase tickets on-line please visit

2015 Open Gardens Saturday & Sunday 9/26 & 27

A big weekend at Sycamore Hill Gardens September 26th and 27th. We’re open Saturday and Sunday beginning at 11:00 am both days and the weather forecast is perfect. Bring a picnic, bring your camera, but most of all, bring your family and friends for a lovely day in a serene setting while you support two local Central New York not-for-profits. It’s a great way for all of us to give back to our community and thank some fine area volunteers for their service.

Children are very, very welcome. Sorry, no pets please. We too love our pets but our three terriers will spend a quiet day inside resting up after the hard work of chasing chipmunks and keeping Blue Herons and Canadian geese off the ponds. They have big fun all week long with the added bonus that none of us end up stepping in goose poop while feeding the ginormous Koi. So much more fun when you don’t have to watch where you put your feet.

IMG_6309Of course, there is a downside. Ted, who can’t tell a cat from a raccoon, treed a very large cat an hour ago. The glint in his eye as he jumped repeatedly against the tree trunk was that of a deranged, carnivorous Wildebeest. So, I rounded up the other two pups with promised treats (they did get their treats) and waited an hour before returning with some sharp cheddar and an old blanket. The frantic jumping and demented demeanor remained the same, but the scent of cheese gave Ted enough pause for me to throw the blanket over him and trundle him back from the Bell Garden. Sadly my Fitbit gives no extra steps from lugging a wiggly terrier even on a day that began with a dead woodchuck chase.

On Sunday, the dogs will sleep on the couch watching football with their eyes shut while we do all the work outside. No Ritz crackers with cream cheese and pepper jam for them this weekend.

These are the gardens last open days until Mother’s Day May 8th, 2016, so pack your picnic and come on out to Marcellus and join us in a celebration of fall. See you this weekend. Best, George & Karen Hanford.

2015 Garden Ramble, Thursday, August 6th, 10:00- 2:00

Balloon Flower
Balloon Flower

Good News! We’ll be hosting another Weekday Garden Ramble on Thursday, August 6th from 10am to 2pm. Rambles are tailored for 30 to 36 guests and include a box lunch on the patio, golf cart tours for those with difficulty walking, and lots of one-on-one time for questions and answers about the gardens.

With close parking, golf cart pick up as needed, and plenty of individual attention, these rambles offer a great opportunity for a quiet and informative visit to the gardens in between the spring and fall large charity fundraisers.

Come see what’s in bloom, enjoy lunch on the patio, and have plenty of time for questions, garden history, and interesting anecdotes. Invite family and friends and help us fill up our next weekday Garden Ramble!


After a brief climb up a not-too-steep learning curve, a PayPal option will soon be available on this website…fingers crossed it works for you. It did for me! The process to include a registration form within the PayPal structure will be completed mid-week along with an on-line printable form for those who prefer to mail in their registration and lunch choices with their check.

For now, please save the date and time, Thursday, August 6th from 10:00 am to 2:00 pm and we look forward to seeing you at the next Sycamore Hill Garden Ramble at 2130 Old Seneca Turnpike, Marcellus, NY 13108.


Boxed lunches are from Daniel’s Grill in Marcellus, known for its locally sourced ingredients. All Panini’s served on sourdough and include house-made chips and a salad of mixed field -greens, cucumbers, grape tomatoes & red onion with House Vinaigrette.

Dessert & Beverage Included – Chocolate Bundt Cake, Iced Tea, Water & Lemonade.

*Rambles will take place rain or shine. There will be no refunds. 

Best, Karen Hanford

Ramble Registration Closed

2015 Sycamore Hill Gardens Will Self-Host More Garden Rambles in 2016

This summer we’ve tried a new tour format at Sycamore Hill Gardens that we’re calling Weekday Garden Rambles. To date, we’ve hosted two four-hour rambles held from 9am to 1pm and a third from 4:30pm to dusk. All three have included a catered box meal on the patio with sandwich and salad choices, cookies and fresh fruit salad, chips and a choice of ice tea or lemonade.  During the event my time is spent using the garden’s six-passenger golf cart to give tours to anyone with difficulty walking, making frequent stops along the way to answer questions from other ramblers followed by doing my best at the group question and answer session on the patio during the meal.

Lamb’s Quarter
Lamb’s Quarter

I readily admit to being “brighter” in the mornings but sometimes that’s much too obvious, and Wednesday night’s ramble was one of those times. I suppose a day spent tarting up the patio and driveway using a pint-sized, flat-bottomed shovel to remove the coating of mud from the previous night’s downpour might be considered a mitigating factor, but by 6:30, as I stood on the patio for the Q & A session, I was feeling distinctly less than brilliant.

My answer to the first question was along the lines of “Gee wiz, I’ll have to go out to the Bell Garden and take a look.” The correct answer to the first question was Liatris spicata Blazing Star and there are times of day when I actually do know this!

I quickly moved on to the second question figuring it had to be uphill from here. Silly me! “What is that beautiful purple flowering plant we can see from the patio?” To which I responded, “We got that from Marcellus Nursery. Um, does Lamb’s Quarter sound right?” A few quietly murmured “noes” from here there on the patio was the polite response, and here I have to thank our generous spirited guests for restraining their laughter. “Thank YOU!” My rapid rejoinder was to launch into a totally unrelated garden anecdote.

Lamb’s Ear
Lamb’s Ear

The correct answer is Hummelo Betony, a plant with a vague resemblance to Lamb’s Ear but with much more distinctive blooms and lovely green foliage. Lamb’s Quarter? Lamb’s Ear? Well, maybe ordering a box meal and actually eating would have helped. I live in hope.

For those of you who missed these rambles, we will be having several more this season using the same format self-hosted by Sycamore Hill Gardens.

Special thanks the 94 people who each attended one of our three Garden Rambles to support CNY Reads One Book, a program of the Onondaga County Public Library System. Your $30 donations included a $10 catered box lunch. Sycamore Hill Gardens will continue that format with it’s own self-hosted Day Time Garden Rambles. Look for dates, details, and menu choices in next week’s blog.

These Sycamore Hill Garden events will all be held weekdays between 10am and 2pm with time to ramble both before and after lunch. They are tailored for 30 to 36 guests with close parking, golf cart pick up as needed, and are held on a rain or shine basis. They offer a great opportunity for a quiet visit to the gardens during the summer months in between spring and fall large charity fundraisers.

Hummelo Betony
Hummelo Betony

Come see what’s in bloom, enjoy lunch on the patio, and have plenty of time for questions, garden history, and interesting anecdotes. Put together a group of family and friends or club members and enjoy your own private Garden Ramble!