Sarnia-Lambton artists will set up shop in gardens during annual tour
Barb Toye, coordinator of the Communities in Bloom garden tour, is pictured here in her backyard in the city’s south end. Nine city backyards are on this year’s tour set for June 25, with local artists lined up to paint the gardens on location this year.(Barbara Simpson/Sarnia Observer/June 16)
Communities in Bloom volunteers are gearing up for literally a picture-perfect garden tour this month.
The Judith & Norman Alix Art Gallery has partnered with garden tour organizers to add an artistic flair to this year’s event set for June 25.
Sarnia-Lambton artists will be planted for the first time in gardens on display this year, producing en plein air – or on-site – paintings to be raffled off.
All of the landscape paintings will be briefly displayed at the JNAAG on June 26 from 1 p.m. to 3:30 p.m. before they’re raffled off.
“We think that’s going to go over really well,” said Barb Toye, coordinator of the garden tour.
Nine properties – including specially-designed pollinator and hybridizer gardens – will be featured on this year’s one-day garden tour, running from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m.
In years past, gardening enthusiasts have travelled from as far away as Chatham, London and even Michigan to attend the popular fundraiser for the Communities in Bloom committee.
“It’s very intriguing to poke around in people’s gardens,” said Toye, an avid gardener herself with a backyard she describes as a “wild English country jungle.”
Tour-goers can expect to see a variety of garden types featured at this year’s event. Some of the gardens include water features – like a waterfall, a fountain or a brook – through to one-of-a-kind decorations, like vintage garden décor.
“All of the gardens have been designed and created by the property owners instead of being professionally designed,” she said.
Despite the ongoing success of the annual event, Toye said it’s still difficult to recruit people to open up their gardens to the public.
Some gardeners feel they need to have all their backyard projects wrapped up before they put their properties on the tour, she noted.
“My response is that perfection is not necessary and works in progress are of interest to others,” Toye said.
She and Lyn Coulthard, of the Sarnia Horticultural Society, visit properties in the lead-up to the annual tour – this year, in its fourth installment – to determine if they’ll be a good fit for the tour.
Volunteers with Communities in Bloom act as hosts at each garden on the day of the tour, greeting tour goers and checking their tickets.
Property owners are encouraged to be home the day of the tour in order to share stories about their gardens with the public.
Toye said gardening enthusiasts are eager to hear these personal stories.
“Everyone will have something very personal to them in their garden – a personal sculpture they’ve created, for example – so tour goers like to learn about it.”
Garden tour tickets are $13 per person. Tickets are available at DeGroot’s Nurseries, Jenny’s Floral Studio, LaPier’s Flowers & Gifts, Windover Nurseries, Tourism Sarnia-Lambton, Flowers by Billy Bush, Kay’s Petals & Plants, McKellar’s Flowers Ltd., Sipkens Nurseries, and Praill’s Greenhouse.
Proceeds of this year’s event will support the purchase of new city park signage, a project the Communities in Bloom committee has taken on during the city’s hiatus from international competition this year.
IF YOU GO
WHAT: Communities in Bloom garden tour and art showcase
WHEN: Garden tour runs June 25, from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Art showcase runs at the JNAAG June 26 from 1 p.m. to 3:30 p.m.
TICKETS: Garden tour tickets are $13 per person. Free admission to art showcase at JNAAG on June 26. Garden tour tickets available at: DeGroot’s Nurseries, Jenny’s Floral Studio, LaPier’s Flowers & Gifts, Windover Nurseries, Tourism Sarnia-Lambton, Flowers by Billy Bush, Kay’s Petals & Plants, McKellar’s Flowers Ltd., Sipkens Nurseries, and Praill’s Greenhouse