Jericho Garden Tour renews
.By Phyl Newbeck For The Essex Reporter
For over two decades, residents of Jericho have been opening up their gardens to total strangers, and 2014 is no different. This year’s Jericho Garden Tour will take place on July 26. The theme will be gardening for birds, and local birder Mauve Kim will do a 45-minute slide show at the Community Center at 9:30 a.m. and 1:00 p.m. on the day of the tour to provide information for those who desire an avian-friendly garden.
There will be eight gardens on this year’s tour. Some are first-timers while others are returning after an absence of a few years. The tour takes place rain or shine, and organizer Orelyn Emerson notes that sometimes rain brings out the colors in gardens more than bright sunshine.
Gardens on the tour range from the giant pumpkins (not yet full-sized) at the home of John and Kerry Young to Kate and Phil Pelkey’s cottage-style garden, which contains a trickling waterfall and is decorated with recycled objects and unique birdhouses built by Phil. Every year one gardener hosts a tea. This year that social event will be held at the home of J. Brooks Buxton. Organizers will bring tea and baked goods, and Buxton will provide seating for those wishing to take a break in his garden.
Emerson said 90 to 100 tickets are sold annually for the tour. “When we started, 50 or 60 was a lot,” she said “but now it’s at least 90 every year.” Emerson doesn’t want the tour to grow any bigger. “It doesn’t have to be huge,” she said. “We don’t make that much money. The important thing is to do something nice for the community.”
Bill and Catherine McMains were invited to be part of the tour a few years ago, and this year organizers asked for a return visit. Their house has multiple gardens, each with its own theme. One bed, which gets very little sun, is planted entirely with white flowers that are especially eye-catching in the evening. The colors blue, white, pink and yellow are repeated through most of the other gardens, one of which is surrounded by boulders while another rings a fire pit.
When the couple bought the house there was one bed that was so shaded over that not much could be done with it. Bill planted some red and green lettuce, and the visual appearance (as well as the taste) was so striking that every year he has created different patterns with the lettuce. Previous years have featured stripes, concentric squares, and a checkerboard, but this year’s design is being kept under wraps. The couple prefers to eat the baby leaves, which allows the design to continue as the plants are being harvested.
Doug Kallen is a first-timer on the tour. He’s spent two decades in Jericho working on his gardens and has had friends and neighbors suggest he take part in the tour.
“I decided to give it a shot,” he said, “and get involved in gardening in a way that can benefit the community since the tour benefits the Community Center.”
Kallen focuses entirely on perennials. He likes having color in his garden throughout the year so tour-goers will miss the opportunity to gawk at his August, September and October blooms, but there still will be plenty to see. Day lilies fill the hillside as you come up his driveway, followed by a pool-side garden with a variety of colors. Kallen has a bee balm garden, rimmed by cross-country skis, which attracts a variety of hummingbirds. There is a garden walkway on his front porch with purple cornflowers and black-eyed Susans. His garden also features three wrought-iron sculptures made by Underhill sculptor Gerald Stoner. “I like having the industrial feel, which contrasts with the soft flowers,” Kallen said.
“Every gardener has a different story to tell,” said Emerson. “You learn so much because everyone does things differently. This is a big learning experience for everyone.”
The Jericho Garden Tour takes place on July 26 from 9:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. with tea scheduled between 10:30 a.m. and noon. Advance tickets are $12 and can be purchased at the Old Mill Gift Shop, Gruppe Gallery, Underhill Country Store and Jericho Center Country Store. On the day of the tour, tickets will only be available at the Jericho Center Country Store. For more information, contact Orelyn Emerson at (802) 899-3853. All proceeds go to the Jericho Community Center.