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Barbara Lombardo writes about journalisml, local news and anything else that strikes her fancy. She is executive editor of The Saratogian, The Record and the Community News, sister papers in the Digital First Media family. Follow her on Twitter @Barb_Lombardo.

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Saratoga Secret Gardens Tour: July 7 event is no secret, but many of the gardens are



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 annual event.
I hope to run into you at one of the 11 locations.
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 celebration).
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 storywith 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. Questions? Call 581-1201, ext. 4184 and I’ll get back to you ASAP.

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