It wasn't a nightmare I had often, but it did recur, always the same. Aliens had captured me, and I was being interrogated about how things work on earth. Now, anyone acquainted with me knows beyond the term "internal combustion engine," I know nothing about what makes a car run. But the aliens were determined that I knew and should tell them. "You turn the key and it starts!" I yell, "It's a miracle!"
Which is also how I view gardening. Sure, I know the basics, but when green leafy things emerge from formerly frozen ground, it's a miracle.
Why are they still alive? I certainly wouldn't be if you put me outside naked for six months of Western New York winter, no matter how much dirt you threw on me. And growing something from a seed? Absolutely a miracle. I'm not a terribly talented gardener, but give me a leaf, a stem, even a bare root, and I can make something grow. Not so much with a seed. I've had them dry out, wash away, get eaten by birds, but germinate? Aside from a paltry winter offering of grass to desperate cats, I can't sprout a seed to save my life. Gardening is not for the faint of heart.
Which is one of the many reasons Jamestown Audubon Society salutes area gardeners with the Secret Gardens Tour, Saturday, June 30, from 10:30 a.m. - 4 p.m.. Five fabulous gardens (two returning favorites, three new) in Jamestown and Falconer are available for viewing. New this year is the addition of "bonus gardens," brought to you by Northside Pride. These four gardens are in the area of some of the tour gardens, and you are invited to walk the neighborhood looking for them. In addition, the Jamestown Renaissance Corporation has created a map of the area that tells you where to look for Grow Jamestown gardens, as well as newly created community gardens. So, let's review: for the $10 ticket price, you get five tour gardens you can climb all over, four bonus gardens with limited access, and 20 plus Grow Jamestown gardens and community gardens you can walk by. JRC has plotted a summer's worth of after dinner constitutionals for you.
Why all the excitement over gardening?
Ignoring the fact that it's how we feed ourselves, it's because it's the kind of thing that can have transformative powers. One person on the block plants a nice blooming patch out front, and that inspires someone else to plant something, and before you know it, you've got gardens.
Have you ever been to Niagara-on-the-Lake? Gardening there is a competitive sport, with the downtown terrace and median strip gardens replaced four times during the tourist season. In Beverly Hills, Calif., the city retains ownership of the sidewalk terraces and plants them full of birds of paradise and elaborate cacti displays. In Giverny, France, home of Claude Monet's famous garden, appearances would have you believe gardening is a residency requirement. If gardening is contagious, these places have caught it, and it hasn't hurt them one bit.
Whether you're a gardener looking for inspiration, a walker in need of a destination, or simply someone who enjoys beautiful things, I recommend the Secret Gardens Tour. The proceeds support the education programs at the Audubon Center and Sanctuary, and you can save $2 by purchasing your ticket in advance at Four Seasons Nursery, Lakeview Gardens, Peterson Farm, Secret Gardens Flower Shop and Stillwater Garden Market in Jamestown; Lakeside Cottage Shoppe in Bemus Point; Mike's Nursery in Lakewood; Robert's Nursery in Falconer; and of course, at Audubon Center and Sanctuary.
If you're stopping at Audubon for tickets, make sure to take time to admire the Sanctuary gardens. Barbara Case and her crew have been hard at work, and it shows. The Secret Tour gardens will only be available to you on June 30, but the Audubon gardens and trails are always yours from dawn to dusk. The Center is open from 10-4:30 Monday-Saturday and Sunday from 1-4:30. Visit jamestownaudubon.org or call 569-2345 for more information. Audubon is located at 1600 Riverside Road, just off Route 62 between Warren and Jamestown.