Birds, bees and butterflies were welcome guests at the 21st annual Little Gardens Club garden tour along with hundreds of visitors who completed the self-guided tour Sunday.

Each of the homes and all of the gardens are uniquely different and as Sharon Leavy of Brigantine said, “Each garden has a story to tell and that makes this tour so much fun every year.” The tour began at the Linwood Arboretum where tour-goers meandered along the paths and had questions answered by the volunteers.

The next stop, the garden of Jim and Tina Leonard was as refreshing as it was beautiful. Lush greens of every variety and color accented with blue are the stage for a special setting. Homeowner Tina Leonard explained the damage the derecho wreaked on the garden and the process of restoring some portions and creating new one began with the help of Bob Lang.

Paul and Helen Utts home backs up to the Northfield Bird Sanctuary. The couple have worked for years to create a garden that is not only beautiful but that coexists with nature. Homeowner Paul Utts said they continue to evolve their garden to be pleasing to the eye and a safe bounty for the animals that live nearby. “We try to create areas that benefit nature like we have echinacea that is a favorite of the finches in the fall but the butterflies love it in the summer,” said Utts.

Tessa and Henry Goldsmith bought their Belcoville home 13 year ago and there was no landscaping save a tree in the backyard. Now the couple enjoys sunsets from their dock along the Great Egg Harbor River and have multiple lilies, hydrangea, phlox and more adding color to their horizon. Tiny frogs sat happily along the rim of their backyard fountain and water feature. “We were looking to move from our home in Absecon and though the beach is beautiful, there is something magical about living along the river,” said Goldsmith.

Anne Craig welcomed guests to her gardens along the river and after 30 of creating and recreating it said it still continues to evolve in a beautiful way. 

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