Gardeners teach and learn from hosting tours
By MELANIE PLENDA
Special to the Union Leader | July 01. 2013 7:24PM
Comments from tour visitors seeing the garden beds originally cultivated in the 1930s by a beloved local schoolteacher have given their new owners, Marcia and Jim Duffy, a better insight on Keene history. COURTESY
These days that yard is home to more than a half a dozen elaborate gardens through which she can stroll with her cat and place where the public is invited during semi-annual garden tours.
A hardy water lily in Bonnie Curtin’s Fremont garden makes a relaxing rest spot for a frog. COURTESY
When she was first asked to show her gardens —which she spends 20 to 25 hours per week maintaining — for a tour, she was shocked. After all, no one can see them from the road and she had always sort of done it just for the joy of doing it. But once she did open her gardens to the public, she made a new discovery.
Bonnie Curtin of Fremont likes to create plant labels and lists of the plants in her water garden for tour visitors. Reactions from guests make the hard work that goes into preparing for a tour gratifying, Curtin says. COURTESY
As she was growing up, Scott's father was into gardening, but she didn't pick it up in a serious way until much later. But when she did, the habit took root.
She kept moving until she had several large plots which include an English Garden stocked with mainly perennials that are just getting ready to bloom as well as already-bloomed roses and delphiniums.
But hosting a garden tour isn't all peaceful walks through arbors. It's work, too.
"It's a little like having a bunch of people over at Christmas: You have to get the house prepared," said Marcia Duffy of Keene, whose gardens have also been featured on tours, most recently in June. "And I really appreciated it, even though it was a lot of work. We're now relaxing. …We don't have to do a thing now (that the tour is over)."
And when all was said and done, Duffy said the work was worth it.
Bonnie Curtin of Fremont said she, too, does a lot of prep work at her home before her gardens are ready to show, including labeling her plants and printing out lists of what's in her water garden. Curtin said some people also print out labeled photos for tour guests to take home so they can replicate what's in the garden.
There's a sunny perennial garden featuring daylilies and a variety of plants chosen to bloom throughout the summer and into the fall, including columbines, peonies, poppies, perennial phlox and hyacinths to name a few. That's in addition to her hosta-heavy shade gardens, perennial borders, vegetable gardens, knockout roses by the porch and, of course, window boxes.
Hosting a garden tour is "really interesting," Curtin said. "Because people who have never done a garden tour before are really enthused and rejuvenated by the excitement that other people bring to their garden.… It's an amazing feeling that you get (from the tourists) and it's a wonderful surprise."