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This Weekend in Montclair: Van Vleck Garden Tour

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VAN VLECK HOUSE

It needs to be said: we all had a very long winter. Even as recently as last week, I was tempted to turn my heat back on.

But now, everyone seems energized by the warm weather, especially since it's been such a long time coming. Since moving here, spring feels even more magical to me. Early on, when barely anything was in bloom, I'd walk to Watchung Plaza to get my coffee and notice the crocuses popping up in my neighbors' gardens. I love hearing birds early in the morning and watching how the changes in daylight start to breathe life back into people.

These days, I notice all the changes in those gardens - beds that have evolved from tentative poking buds to riots of flowers. For those who like that kind of thing, there's a great garden-watching opportunity this Friday and Saturday, May 29 and 30. Van Vleck House - a magnificent 5.7-acre garden that's open to the public - is hosting its annual Roses to Rock Gardens Tour, a weekend for voyeuristic garden lovers to tour eight private home gardens in Montclair and Glen Ridge and see what their neighbors have going on in their backyards. Tickets are on sale here (or on the days of the event at Van Vleck House, 21 Van Vleck Street, Montclair) - and I highly recommend it as a way to get yet another feel for the area.

To me, witnessing spring and summer come into bloom is one of the major benefits of living in a walkable suburb. When you navigate your world on foot, you really can stop and smell the flowers.