A bevy of blooms. A riot of roses. It's the ninth Secret Gardens Tour, brought to you by the Jamestown Audubon Society. In addition to the usual exquisite collection of tour gardens, this year we have additional "bonus" gardens together with a myriad of GROW Jamestown gardens. It's an "extrava-GARDEN-za," so dust off your walking shoes and make sure your calendar is clear on Saturday.
This year's collection of tour gardens includes four in Jamestown and one in Falconer. Two are returning favorites - our most requested repeats, in fact - and three are brand new to the tour. Adding to the collection are four "bonus gardens," courtesy of the Northside PRIDE organization. While our tourists are accustomed to having full access to tour gardens, these bonus gardens will have limited viewing: Check the sign out front for what portions of the gardens (front, back, side) are available, or whether they prefer you to view the garden from the sidewalk only. And Secret Garden tourists will be the first to lay hands on a new map that features garden locations in the north side area.
Peter Lombardi, director of neighborhood initiatives for the Jamestown Renaissance Corporation, has joined forces with the Secret Gardens Tour to create a self-guided walking tour of GROW Jamestown gardens visible from the street on the north side of Jamestown. JRC received funding from the Sheldon, Lenna, and Chautauqua Region Community Foundations to put toward GROW Jamestown initiatives that promote gardening and neighborhood beautification. The brochure with the walking tour route of northside GROW Jamestown gardens will be available at each of the Secret Gardens, and can be used throughout the summer. JRC, Audubon, Lakeview Avenue Community Action Project (LACAP), and Northside PRIDE all invite you to walk the city's northside.
A shaded corner of the Ruth Baker garden at 46 Grant St.
Photos by Dave Cooney
Tour gardens located on the northside of Jamestown include Ruth Baker and David Metzler on Grant Street, both returning favorites, and newcomer Marijka Lampard on Lakeview Avenue. As luck would have it, the city is replacing water mains on Lakeview Avenue, and it is a major construction site. The worst-case scenario could put construction directly in front of Marijka's house, so approach from the south and be prepared to locate parking on a side street. Park on the even-numbered side, and be alert to areas where parking is prohibited. We haven't lost a tourist yet, and we don't want to start now.
Finding Ruth Baker's garden at 46 Grant St. is no challenge; her front yard is a profusion of perennials. But there's even more in store in the driveway, behind the house, and yes, even her neighbor's backyard. Ruth is one of two gardeners this year who has solved the space problem by gardening into her neighbor's lot (and they'd be fools to complain). A farmer's daughter, Ruth has been gardening at this location for 26 years. Did you bring your perennial checklist? Astilbe, Asiatic lilies, black-eyed Susans, coneflowers, columbine, crocosmia, English daisies, gaillardia, Gazania daisies, nasturtium, Solomon's Seal, spiderwort, sundrops, sweet peas, sweet William, sweet woodruff, and did I mention the new dahlia bed and Canna lilies? And then there's the back yard. You'll find vegetables as well as more perennials, even a staghorn fern, happily tucked into a shady corner. The driveway garden is built on the macerated remains of a large tree stump, hand-carted from several blocks away.
There have been few moments in my life when I could honestly die happy, but being in David Metzler's garden is one of them. Last on the tour in 2007, what was a new garden then is now an inviting, enveloping, meditative space that beckons you to relax. Trees (Japanese maples, weeping beech, redbuds) overreach a meandering path and garden beds filled with shade-loving ferns, ginger, hosta, rhododendrons, and Solomon's Seal; look for the tall blossoms of the Bear's Breeches. If you enter through the garden gate, David's original garden at the back of the house is to your left, and a garden in the recently-acquired corner lot has begun on your right. David invites you to explore everywhere, but construction on the carriage house is ongoing, so watch your step. An unusual request for a garden tour, but I must ask you to look up. Just beyond the garden gate is a hand-crafted fountain which will command your attention, but look up to admire the continued metal artistry in the dome and light fixture, as well as the spires on the roof (you will have to cross the street to do this). In case you're wondering, that space in the back is reserved for an Arabian water feature. Is another five years enough time?
As long as you're across the street admiring David's spires, turn up Seventh Street and make a right onto Lincoln to find two of our bonus gardens. Sue Schwartz at 314 Lincoln St. has converted her front lawn into a lovely collection of raised-bed vegetable and herb gardens; view from the sidewalk only, please. Those are solar raised beds under construction on the terrace. Karen Inwood is easily found next door (at 308 Lincoln St.) as both her house and her garden are a riot of color. And this is where I must hear the collective sigh of disappointment from tourists when I tell you that Bob Doverspike, a former tour gardener at 50 Grant St., is a bonus garden this year. The back yard you lust for is under construction, so you must limit yourself to viewing this treasure from the front and side only. (Use of binoculars to spy from Ruth Baker's backyard is optional.) You'll find our last bonus garden at 115 Liberty St., the home of Kurt and Cathy Carlson. Please observe signs that will tell you what parts of the four bonus gardens (front, side, back, sidewalk viewing only) are available to you.
Anyone who drove down Lakeview Avenue during the summer of 2010 knew something very exciting was going on at the home of Marijka Lampard. Designed by David Metzler and installed by Arrowwood Landscaping, R-Patti poured the concrete and Wright Monumental Works takes credit for the fountain. "We are extremely fortunate to have such a brilliant and gifted designer in Jamestown," says Marijka, who decided a complete reworking of her garden and driveway was in order. "David's work is perfectly-proportioned, with a grand and unique flair." This European-style garden is one of the few places in Jamestown you can be temporarily convinced you are someplace else entirely. Lake Como, Italy, comes to mind. I confess, I'm hard pressed to disguise my envy for this extraordinary garden. Proceed up the driveway and around the house, through the 12-foot tall iron gate designed and crafted by Marijka's brother, Harry Eeuwes, to reveal one beautiful green space after another. Large and striking container arrangements, shade and sun gardens, water features, statuary, trees, and a wall of perennials: Enjoy.
Santo Armeli is new to the tour, a fortuitous discovery by a committee member on an errand. If Santo looks familiar, it might be the 34 years he spent at Carnahan's doing your alterations. Unable to sit still for retirement, Santo channeled that energy into his garden. Unfortunately, his lot at 203 Hazzard St. is topographically-challenged, being mostly vertical and paved. So, Santo uses raised beds and containers to indulge his green thumb. The patio has a fig tree, oleander, gardenia, hibiscus, and the largest blooming orchid cactus I have ever seen, all in containers. There are vegetables and herbs, cacti, and Sago palms. Go up the driveway (admiring the rose garden) and proceed around the house to view the collection. Astonishingly enough, it all goes inside for the winter!This garden is not handicapped accessible as moving around the home requires negotiation of small stairways. Much of the garden can be seen, however, from the sidewalk and the driveway.
You may want to thank Susan Dickerson's husband on your way home from her garden at 21 E. Elmwood Ave. in Falconer. He convinced her to contact Audubon about being on the tour, and the rest, as they say, is history. Occupied with the usual pursuits of children, Susan didn't start gardening until her son had graduated from high school eight years ago. She put a few flowers out front, but quickly decided to concentrate her efforts in the backyard. Two garden beds are former horseshoe pits; one full of prickly pear cacti in bloom. There are clematis and Silverlace vine climbing the corner gazebo, and a pocket garden full of perennials surrounds the hot tub deck. This is another garden where you'll want to look up. Susan has raided her carpenter husband's garage for anything that can hold up a bird house, and they line her garden. When we were there, house wrens and chickadees were in vocal residence. In addition to an abundance of perennials, Susan has a fondness for found objects, which decorate her garden in a variety of unique ways. (I distinctly remember a bed frame full of black-eyed Susans.) Here you will find another rose garden, with mock orange and honeysuckle adding to the aromatherapy. If you proceed up the driveway and around the backyard onto the hot tub deck, avoid the crowd by exiting over the pool deck.
So, let's recap: Five tour gardens, four bonus gardens, and a map full of GROW Jamestown gardens, all for the bargain pre sale price of $10. Tickets are $12 the day of the tour, on sale at ticket outlets and each of the tour gardens, or save $2 by purchasing tickets before Saturday at: Audubon Center and Sanctuary, Four Seasons Nursery, Lakeview Gardens, Peterson Farm, Secret Gardens Flower Shop, Stillwater Garden Market (all Jamestown); Mike's Nursery, Lakewood; Robert's Nursery, Falconer; and the Lakeside Cottage Shoppe in Bemus Point.
The proceeds from this event support the educational programs at Audubon Center & Sanctuary. (The previous eight tours have raised over $25,800.) While it's true we're nowhere without our gardeners, the tour is also lost without the committee that organizes it. My thanks to Marilyn Anderson, Barb Eggleston, Mary Anne Harp, Joyce Mallare, Joan Marcello, Marlene Mudge, and Lissa VanDewark for making it happen. Ruth Lundin and her staff at the Nature Center come to the rescue when needed, and Dave Cooney is our exclusive photographer. Special thanks to Peter Lombardi with the Jamestown Renaissance Corporation and Bob Doverspike with Northside PRIDE for reaching out and enabling the tour to "sprout" four bonus gardens and a walking map.
Most of all we thank Mother Nature, who not only grows our gardens, but gives us a beautiful day for our tours. Count on her gracing us again Saturday but the tour goes on, rain or shine, from 10:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. Don't let the heat or humidity keep you from this extrava-Garden-za.