Let’s face it. Garden tours are not just about gardens. People like to see homes in dreamy locations, surrounded by conservation land with ocean or pond views and maybe a backyard pool.

In other words, how the other half lives. And gardens. This year’s tour, Along the Garden Path, sponsored by the Orleans Improvement Association, on Saturday, June 24, doesn’t disappoint. It offers all that and more.

 

Overview

All six gardens on the tour are designed with lovely curving paths and feature sophisticated color schemes, utilizing foliage in shades of blue, yellow, green and red with backbone beds of steadfast perennials brightened by cheerful annuals.

Although some properties are grander in scale than others, they all follow the basic tenants of proper gardening. Still, they are all unique.

 Keep your eyes open for ideas that will work in your own landscape. Like incorporating large boulders into the grounds as a natural accent. When in doubt, get a rock. It adds a look of permanence and is a solid investment that will never die on you.

 Note whimsical details that personalize a garden like old metal watering cans being used as planters; flower sculptures that grow in the wind, and personal collections — old pots, sculpture of fairies or frogs, or interesting birdbaths.

 Take note of hard-scape throughout the tour, not only in paths but large outdoor spaces. Hard-scape keeps feet clean, and makes outdoor space useable for many things: outdoor kitchens, fire pits, dining areas, even dancing!

 It must be the Year of the Chipmunk, because they are everywhere, zipping up trellises or hightailing it through the perennials. Perhaps more gardeners are feeding birds and attracting these natural burglars.

 

The tour

The first house on the tour takes advantage of all the space around it. This is the key to enjoying your outdoor spaces. A natural stone walkway leads to useful places to sit and relax or entertain. Designed beds are combined with tamed wildness. Ground covers flourish but are carved into place. It’s Mother Nature under control.

 Well known local artists will be painting in all of the gardens to capture the beauty of the day. After the tour, the public is invited to enjoy a glass of wine at the participating galleries and talk to the artists.

 Dense planting highlights the second garden situated on a highly manicured hillside. Thought was put into the planting material and the result is pleasing to the eye. A quarter-board sign announces “Bunnyrunne and the owner’s collection of rabbit statues verifies it.

 Look for a beautiful slab birdbath at the third house with its stately entrance, fine plantings and stone walls. Potted plants add color and relief to the paved pool area in the rear.

 Garden four exudes elegance and serenity with a view that is postcard perfect. Garden five teaches a lesson in control with grass and pachysandra planted right next to each other. The greenery evokes serenity with a soft whisper rather than a shout. Note the rose bushes hiding the AC units.

 Garden six is a perfect little house with a garden by the sea overlooking Town Cove. Look for the peekaboo garden, that could have been wasted space between the house and garage.

 Bring a notebook and a camera. Going on a garden tour should have some take-away value, like having dinner at a restaurant and discovering new dishes to add to your repertoire at home.

Master gardeners will be there to answer your questions and raffle tickets available for garden consultations with WA Landscape Designs and Garden Gate Designs. The tour will be held rain or shine from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.

 

Stephanie Foster is a master gardener and a regular contributor to Cape Experience.

 

 

If You Go

What: Orleans Improvement Association’s 29th annual garden tour, Along the Garden Path

When: Saturday, June 24, from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.

Tickets: Online ($27) at orleansimprovement.org or at Agway in Chatham, Dennis and Orleans; The Farm, Friends Market Place and Snow’s Home & Garden in advance ($25) or on the day of the tour ($30) at Nauset Regional Middle School, 70 South Orleans Rd. beginning at 9:30 a.m. Raffle tickets are one for $3 or three for $5.

Art receptions: Addison Art Gallery from 3 to 7 p.m. with artists Jonathan McPhillips and Susan Overstreet; 4 to 6 p.m. with Alice Mongeau at her gallery; Tree’s Place with Rosalie Nadeau and Art DeWaltoff; Gallery 31 with Sissi Sneve Schulz, Barbara Stone, Mary Wojciechowski, and Jennifer McCalmont, and Left Bank Gallery with Denise Zompa.