Summer in bloom

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Gardener Jon Bitzer of Somers Point gives his front lawn just a splash of watering during the heat of the day; just enough to cool off the blades of grass and keep them a bright green. Gardener Jon Bitzer of Somers Point gives his front lawn just a splash of watering during the heat of the day; just enough to cool off the blades of grass and keep them a bright green.
Beautiful gardens across the county delight hundreds of visitors

The sixteenth annual summer Little Gardens Club garden tour was held Sunday, July 13 and if you missed it, you missed a chance to do what all gardeners love to do; peak at others gardens for inspiration and new ideas.

Several hundred made the trek from the Arboretum in Linwood, the suggested first stop along the tour to several gardens in Somers Point, Egg Harbor Township and Mays Landing. Along the way what tour-goers found was unique ways to use small spaces to create beautiful accents, impressive vegetable gardens, havens for hummingbirds and butterflies and quiet reflective spaces that explode in color.

At the Linwood Arboretum visitors could marvel at how this little slice of land that was once a power station now supports so many varieties of plants that can be propagated in backyards in the area. One variety that is drawing a great deal of attention lately is the salvia. Curator Allen Lacy said there are 16 different varieties of salvia growing; each with its own characteristics, color and foliage.

In Somers Point Jon and Patty Bitzer have put down roots at their circa 1932 beach cottage after leaving a huge home in Egg Harbor Township where they had large garden. Jon Bitzer said the house was great inside but it needed some help outdoors.

He and his wife rescued the home and the Rhode Island cottage went from drab to fab with the hard work of the couple. Bitzer has a raised bed vegetable garden and a number of plants but also makes use of containers that help create a colorful visual. “This one provides the garden with thrills, spills and chills. The painted pink stick is the thrill, the creeping jenny over the side of the pot is the spill and the spotted coleus is the chill,” said Jon Bitzer as he pointed out a front yard favorite. 

Just down the road a way is the very impressive vegetable garden of Emma and Oscar San Pedro. Since moving to Somers Point 27 years ago, the San Pedro’s have found a way to keep their love of their homeland, the Philippines, close to their heart and their kitchen table.

Emma San Pedro proudly gave tours of her extensive garden. “We love Filipino food but the vegetables are hard to find fresh so we grow them here. I walked out here this morning and picked some grape tomatoes, spinach, mint and made omelets that were delicious,” said San Pedro. She grows Upo and Lupo, two different types of squash popular in Filipino cooking along with eggplant, ampalaya and many other varieties.

The yard has trellises to support the long green beans and other vegetables and lovely walkways throughout.   

Cloverfields, the gardens at the home of Mary McDermott and Dan McNerney was started just a few years ago, in 2011 and it is now several lush gardens stretching across the property that is whimsical as well as practical and offers a haven for nourishment for the butterflies, birds, insects and they even have called a truce with the deer. Local artist, Deb Spinella set up her easel in the garden to capture the feel of the garden on canvas.

The garden tour is the single largest fundraiser for the Little Gardens Club and allows them to in turn recycle the money that was raised to fund other gardens and outdoor spaces. The recipients of funding in the past include the Atlantic City Rescue Mission Garden in Goshen, Child Federation, Hereford Lighthouse Garden, the Linwood Arboretum, the Pinelands Alliance, South Jersey Land and Water Trust and the Community Food Bank of South Jersey. Club member Joan Brennan said the members will determine how and where to donate the funds at their first meeting in September.

To have your garden considered for next years tour or to recommend a garden for inclusion call Jan, 609-432-8695.

The Linwood Arboretum was a starting place for many on the Garden Tour. Some of the dedicated volunteers at the Linwood Arboretum include from left, George Butrus, curator Allen Lacey, Ed Blantan and Lori Butrus. The Linwood Arboretum was a starting place for many on the Garden Tour. Some of the dedicated volunteers at the Linwood Arboretum include from left, George Butrus, curator Allen Lacey, Ed Blantan and Lori Butrus.

Emma San Pedro grows favorite vegetables that are native to her homeland: the Philippines. Emma San Pedro grows favorite vegetables that are native to her homeland: the Philippines.

Jon and Patty Bitzer had before and after photos of how they transformed the yard around their circa 1932 cottage into a lovely and inviting oasis. Jon and Patty Bitzer had before and after photos of how they transformed the yard around their circa 1932 cottage into a lovely and inviting oasis.

The San Pedro’s of Somers Point have an extensive vegetable garden in their backyard while the front yard includes wonderful color and provides the bees with a source of nectar. The San Pedro’s of Somers Point have an extensive vegetable garden in their backyard while the front yard includes wonderful color and provides the bees with a source of nectar.

Gardener Jon Bitzer called this pot his gardens thrill, chill and spill because the elements combined to create a real pop of color in the front yard. Gardener Jon Bitzer called this pot his gardens thrill, chill and spill because the elements combined to create a real pop of color in the front yard.

Hella Lacey of Linwood and Marianne Pietrofitta of Somers Point provide information for guests on the 16th Annual Little Gardens Tour, held Sunday, July 13. Hella Lacey of Linwood and Marianne Pietrofitta of Somers Point provide information for guests on the 16th Annual Little Gardens Tour, held Sunday, July 13.

 


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