Before the heat broke in Tuesday
afternoon’s rain, guzzling water as I trimmed the hedge on our narrow city lot,
I imagined the gardeners who so generously agreed to be on this year’s Saratoga Secret Gardens Tour
– on Sunday, July 7, little more than a week away.
Trimming the hedge? Kids’ stuff.
|Terraced gardens and cascading water ending in a fish-filled pond|
are among the secret treasures on the tour. Photos by Erica Miller.
The garden owners on this tour invariably
fret, sweat, and invest time and mo
ney for the pleasure of a few hundred
strangers – and for the beneficiaries of the funds raised by this popular
I hope to run into you at one of the 11
Stacie Mayette Barnes and I are
co-chairs of this year’s Secret Gardens Tour – the 19th annual. We
earned the privilege not because of our own gardening skills (or lack thereof),
but by virtue of Outgoing Soroptimist International of Saratoga County
President Lyn Whaley’s skill at getting busy people to volunteer. Fortunately,
we also have several terrific committee members, more busy people whom you can
count on to get it done, whatever it is.
The Secret Gardens committee starts
work a year ahead, finding gardens (a process that can continue well into the
fall). Then there’s setting up online accounts for ordering tickets and
entering raffles; recruiting garden volunteers; gathering and editing garden
descriptions for the published tickets; collecting and packaging raffle items;
preparing tickets for sale and distribution; getting the word out via U.S.
mail, social media, email and traditional news media. (Full disclosure: I am
pleased to say that The Saratogian is one of the event sponsors, and I will
freely admit that I actively seek and am grateful for publicity from other area
newspapers, TV and radio stations.)
The day of the event is labor
intensive, too, with Soroptimists selling tickets (and handing out pre-ordered
ones) starting at 10 a.m. at the Saratoga Springs Visitor Center, committee
elves who install and remove the directional signs along the route, plus volunteers
from in and outside of the club servings as “hostesses” at the garden sites.
I’m sharing this with you now for three
reasons: The co-chairs for next year are already committed (they’ll have it
easy on the milestone 20th year), to thank the gardeners in advance,
and to make this unabashed pitch to those of you who have not yet ordered a
ticket (or entered the raffle).
The Secret Gardens Tour wouldn’t exist
without people willing to have literally hundreds of people traipsing through
their property for fun and inspiration. Among this year’s special features are
the Saratoga Springs’ mayor’s home, a backyard stone labyrinth created in
memory of the owner’s son, terraced gardens with cascading water and lots of
fish (bring a plastic bag, you may bring some home), a 100-year-old grape
arbor, and a poolside topiary shaped like a horse (perfect for the Saratoga 150
And without the tour, the Soroptimist
club wouldn’t be able to support local programs and projects that benefit women,
girls and the community, such as Domestic Violence and Rape Crisis Services of
Saratoga County, grants for women heads of household completing their
education, and assorted projects.
Click the link to The Saratogian story
with short descriptions of the private gardens. Tickets are $18 in advance and
$22 on the day of the tour, if still available. Tickets can be purchased (and
pre-ordered tickets picked up) this and next Saturday (June 29 and July 6) from
10 a.m. to 2 p.m. at the Saratoga Springs Visitor Center – or on the day of the
tour at the visitor center beginning at 10 a.m., while available. You can also
order tickets – and learn more about Soroptimists – at www.soroptimistsaratoga.org
Call 581-1201, ext. 4184 and I’ll get back to you ASAP.