Janet Longo thought there was a lot of pressure when her garden was included on the popular Summer Garden Tour put on each year by the Little Gardens Club. But that pressure is nothing like waiting to hear how the eight gardens scheduled for this year's tour survived the June 30 storm that knocked down trees and cut off power for days in sections of Atlantic County.
"It's been very stressful. We've already disseminated the pamphlets and sold the tickets, so there's really no way to change the tour," Longo, chairperson for the garden tour, said earlier this week. "My garden was on the tour four or five years ago and I worried every day that a weed would spring up. This year I really feel for (the featured gardeners)."
This year's Summer Garden Tour is scheduled for 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. July 15. The 14th iteration of the tour will feature a total of seven gardens in Egg Harbor Township, Galloway Township, Somers Point and Linwood. An eighth garden was removed from the tour after the storm knocked down a tree that damaged the garden and adjacent buildings.
"That was a crime, she had a lovely garden and a beautiful backyard," Longo, 67, said.
In Ventnor, the garden tour sponsored by the town's Beautification Committee is scheduled for Saturday. That tour is expected to feature about a dozen local gardens, said Michelle Ummarino, one of the organizers.
"We have heard nothing bad from our garden people, so we are going full speed ahead," Ummarino said. "Everything seems to be OK. We have to work around whatever happened but we've had no reports so far."
The tours are a popular summer event in southern New Jersey. The Little Gardens Club expects to raise about $4,000, with most of that money being donated to environmental causes, Longo said.
"The only thing we take out is the printing cost of the ticket," she said. In the past, the club has donated to the Linwood Arboretum at Belhaven in Linwood (which is featured in this year's tour), the Audubon Society, the Purple Martin Preservation Association, the Pinelands Alliance and the Hereford Inlet Lighthouse Gardens in North Wildwood. It has also provided funding for gardens at Gilda's Club in Linwood, the Child Federation of Atlantic County in Pleasantville, the Community Food Bank of New Jersey in Egg Harbor Township and a five-acre garden in Middle Township that provides produce for the Atlantic City Rescue Mission.
Money raised by the Ventnor tour goes to help beautification projects in the city. In the past this has included purchasing new trash receptacles and banners for the Boardwalk.
The Summer Garden Tours ticket is more like a brochure, with descriptions of each of the gardens on the tour and driving directions for those participating in the self-guided event.
"It's a nice day. People love the tour. They love walking around and having the gardeners explain things to them," Longo said.
You don't have to be a member of the Little Gardens Club to have your garden featured on the tour. Members are always looking for new yards to feature, and work on planning the tour starts a year before the first visitor opens a garden gate.
"The tour is different every year. Usually we find new gardens every year," she said. The search for good gardens include gaining recommendations from landscapers, garden centers and the people who install backyard ponds. The group asks for referrals on its ticket, and garden club members have been known to make cold calls on garden owners.
"Sometimes we'll drive by and see a lovely garden and we'll just go up and knock on the door," Longo said.
Contact Steven V. Cronin:
Little Gardens Club Summer Garden Tour
9 a.m. to 3 p.m. July 15. Tickets are $15 and can be purchased in advance at Brennan Marine in Somers Point, Joe's Garden Center in Galloway Township, Quality Chocolates in Linwood and Bob's Garden Center in Egg Harbor Township. Tickets will be available at the Linwood Arboretum, 1425 Wabash, on the day of the tour.
Ventnor City Garden Tour
10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday. Tickets $15. Call 609-929-1710 or 267-980-7632 for tickets and information.