Smell the roses on the Westacres garden tour

By: Cari DeLamielleure-Scott | West Bloomfield Beacon | Published June 10, 2015

 A bird fountain stands among Greg Konczak’s gardens on Lilac Court.

A bird fountain stands among Greg Konczak’s gardens on Lilac Court.

Photo by Sarah Purlee

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WEST BLOOMFIELD — For the first time since Westacres’ 75th anniversary in 2011, the community is unlocking its fences and welcoming the public to tour residential gardens.


The Westacres Community Association will host the garden tour from 10 a.m.-3 p.m. June 27. Tickets cost $15 and can be purchased on the day of the tour at the Westacres clubhouse. One hundred percent of the proceeds will be used to restore the clubhouse, which was built in the late 1970s.


Tourists can journey around the community on golf carts while the drivers provide a history of the neighborhood.


Westacres was built in 1936, and each property had a tool shed attached “because the whole idea was you plant your own garden and grow your own fruit trees to help sustain the factory workers when they were laid off,” said garden tour chair Meghan Galbraith. Galbraith grew up in Westacres and later bought a house two doors down from her childhood home.


Of the five kids in Galbraith’s family, she said her oldest brother is the only one who does not reside in the Westacres community. Within the community, there are 42 second-generation homeowners, six third-generation homeowners and one fourth-generation homeowner.


“It’s like a little village. Everyone looks out for one another. Because there’s so many generational kids living there, you grew up with many of the people who are your neighbors,” Galbraith said.


When the community celebrated its 75th anniversary, residents held a garden tour, and previous homeowners returned for the celebration. Because of the tour’s success, the community decided to hold the tour again this year, Galbraith said.


“This is very unique. It’s not an annual thing. … If you’re thinking of coming, you better come, because we don’t know when we’ll do it again,” Galbraith said. 


Gardens run the gamut in Westacres. From greenhouses to perennials to garden ponds, tourists will discover a variety of gardens and yard accents while on the tour.


“Some people have the ‘diamond standard’ garden … but then you have others who just have beautifully landscaped backyards,” Galbraith said. “It’s a peek into someone’s backyard that you otherwise wouldn’t have.”


Galbraith said that tourists must see the gardens planted by 28-year resident Greg Konczak.


Konczak, who lives on Lilac Court, lends his professional touch to his own gardens, which cover about 2 acres. Though Konczak, a professional gardener, spends his weekdays working on other people’s gardens, he said he spends about eight hours a day on the weekends in his own gardens.


When Konczak bought the house, he said, there were no gardens on the property.


“We ripped out all of the foundation plantings and created gardens in the front yard,” he said. “It is extreme. … My obsessiveness is spent on adding things to the garden, and I never stop.”


Konczak now has gardens in the front yard, a variety of shrubs, a small water feature in his backyard, about 100 planters hanging or decorating the deck, and a woodland walk through the woods. Something is always in bloom in Konczak’s gardens.


“There are surprises around every corner,” Konczak said. “It’s a large variety of shrubs and perennials, and the garden pretty much creates itself.”


It’s not uncommon for neighbors to tour Konczak’s yard, and he said they are welcome to walk through at any time. During the garden tour, docents will parade through the garden to ensure that tourists don’t miss anything, he said.


“I have a blast with (the tour). I’m not shy with anyone, and I love the day. … You work hard year after year … so it’s fun on the days you get to show it to other people,” Konczak said.


The Westacres clubhouse is located at 3700 Westacres Drive in West Bloomfield. Tickets will be available at the clubhouse on the day of the garden tour.

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