Chapel Hill: Opinion

July 28, 2014

It takes a village to grow a town garden tour

The Chapel Hill Garden Spring Garden Tour, a Chapel Hill sponsored event, was held May 3 and 4. The tour featured seven unique private gardens, the Carolina Campus Community Garden and the North Carolina Botanical Garden.

The Chapel Hill Garden Spring Garden Tour, a Chapel Hill sponsored event, was held May 3 and 4. The tour featured seven unique private gardens, the Carolina Campus Community Garden and the North Carolina Botanical Garden.

This biennial event, which began around a club member’s kitchen table in 1996, has now grown to a well-respected, much-anticipated gardening event that attracts visitors from around the state and beyond. We would like to thank those who made the tour possible.

Exhibiting a strong sense of generosity, hospitality, and community spirit, the tour’s garden hosts welcomed the public into their private gardens and shared their “Southern Part of Heaven.” Garden hosts were Melanie and Kevin Biese; Linda and Larry Curcio; Teddy Lovejoy and Tom Henkel; Karen and Michael Lazarus; Gail Norwood; Paula Noell and Palmer Page; Elizabeth and John Pringle; and Claire Lorch, director of the Carolina Campus Community Garden. Hand-crafted ceramic plaques were presented to each of the garden hosts denoting their participation in the tour.

The majority of tour proceeds benefit the Botanical Garden, and on this tour our focus was on the new Children’s Wonder Garden. We are proud to donate $28,000 to the Wonder Garden this year, bringing the club’s total donation to the Botanical Garden since its first tour in 1996 to $168,000. The club also donated $600 to the Carolina Campus Community Garden, $100 to the East Chapel Hill High School Instrumental Music Department and $100 to Kidzu.

Art and music

Tour proceeds also help fund the educational and community outreach projects of the club, including but not limited to maintaining three planters on Franklin Street and the entrance garden at the Stratford assisted living home, working with clients at Freedom House on perennial and vegetable gardens and purchasing garden tools for new Habitat for Humanity homeowners.

Adding to the uniqueness of the 2014 tour was “Art in the Garden,” in which plein air artists from PAINTNC painted in several of the gardens. Club member and artist Jane Lamm coordinated the event which featured work by Lamm, Brenda Behr, Judy Crane, Barbi Dalton, Betsy Duncan, Jean Grunewald, Anne Avent Johnson, Karen Meredith, Wendy Musser, Ann Neeley, Deborah Sanks, Jean Scholz, and Carolyn Schrock.

In addition there was “Music in the Garden.” In the Lovejoy-Henkel garden, student quartets from East Chapel Hill High School orchestra, under the direction of Ryan Ellefsen, played with great enthusiasm and skill. In the Courtyard at the Botanical Garden, the North Carolina Opera, under general director Eric Mitchko, gave a free “Popera“ performance while Kidzu kept little ones’ hands busy making a flower craft. And at the Carolina Community Garden, visitors learned good gardening practices from Orange County Master Gardeners and all about composting from Linden Thayer.

We would like to thank our tour sponsor Marilyn Cox, owner of “I Must Garden” and our other supporters: Hope Valley Bottle Shop, the Chapel Hill-Orange County Visitors Bureau, Harrington Bank, Piedmont Environmental, Bartlett Tree Experts, Secret Gardens, Garden Supply Company, North Carolina Opera, La Residence, Jaye J. Kreller, real-estate broker, Twig, NiteLites Inc., The Unique Plant, JV Brockwell Trucking, Courtyard by Marriott, Ad Spice, Southern States, Simchock Stone Masonry, Inc., Karen Antle Fashion Consulting, Market Imports, Comfort Keepers, Niche Gardens, The Last Unicorn, Lee’s Healthy Cooking Classes, University Florist and Suzanne Edney.

The Garden Club would especially like to acknowledge the professional and technical support of The Botanical Garden staff, including Director Peter White, Nancy Easterling, Charlotte Jones-Roe, Lauren Deal, and Paula Simone Cook.

Publicity was enhanced by The Town of Chapel Hill’s co-sponsorship. We acknowledge the kind assistance of Jim Orr, Director of Parks and Recreation Department, Catherine Lazorko, Chapel Hill communications manager, and Laurie Paolicelli and Patty Griffin of the Visitors Bureau. Thanks also to the Chapel Hill Herald, the News and Observer, the Chapel Hill News, Chapel Hill Magazine and Weekly, the Daily Tar Heel, Triangle Gardener, Southern Neighbor and the New York Times for their print coverage of the event.

We appreciate the local business community, including: Triangle Gardener for donating booth space at the Southern Ideal Home Show; Southern Season, Southern States, Wild Bird Center, Victoria Park Florist and the Courtyard Marriott Hotel who were our local ticket selling outlets; Aaron Keck at WCHL for a radio interview on the afternoon news; A Better Image for first-rate, quality printing and many local businesses for placement of postcards and posters.

Thanks to our many friends outside of our club who helped as Garden Guides, to members’ husbands who helped with parking, selling tickets and placing signs, to club members and friends of the club for their donations and finally to the entire Chapel Hill community for their support of the Spring Garden Tour.

Char Thomann is the Chapel Hill Spring Garden Tour chair and Christine Ellestad is the Chapel Hill Garden Club president.

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