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Wonderful green spaces, natural habitats and cool respites were hallmarks of the annual Little Gardens Club garden tour held Sunday, July 15. From Galloway Township to Somers Point, Linwood to Egg Harbor Township, the shared love of home style horticulture was impressive.
Neighbors in the Blue Heron Pine development – John and Grace Drexel, Robert and Margaret Menditto and Linda and Ralph Taylor opened their yards to visitors and shared the spaces they created.
For the Drexels, it has been a labor of love six years in the making. When the couple settled in Galloway seven years ago their townhome, built on a slab, was surrounded by rock-hard dirt.
"Slowly I began working different spots and bringing in new soil," said John Drexel. "I knew my garden would eventually include a pergola and so I worked to create that space."
He planted a variety of evergreens, yews and arbor vitae to create a natural wall of green that hems in the backyard and makes it uniquely private. The pergola features a large outdoor cooking center, a marble-topped table, chairs, free flowing curtains and planters that might be in Galloway, but could make one feel like they were spending a relaxing evening in Tuscany. Drexel said picked up ideas over the last few years as he and his wife have traveled.
His outdoor dining area just off the house impressed garden aficionado Auxilia Day of Port Republic.
"What a wonderful idea; a portico," said Day as she sat down at the table to rest for minute. "I could definitely enjoy a meal here."
A drive over to English Lane in Egg Harbor Township revealed a spread of green that meandered around Merriwood Gardens. It is punctuated with a little oasis and numerous fountains and ponds.
Owner Barbara Naame said they have worked for six years creating this lush hideaway. Her favorite specimen is heliboris, or a winter blooming rose that rims a walking path that she can see from her kitchen window.
The June 30 derecho and subsequent power outage had Naame and her daughter watering the horses in their nearby stable and some of the plants by hand; a very tall order.
Across the county in Somers Point is Jean and Jim McNamara’s garden, a natural habitat just across from Greate Bay Country Club’s fairway. Here dragonflies, hummingbirds, butterflies and sparrows share space in this garden inspired by naturalist Pat Sutton.
She has milkweed in her garden to attract the monarchs, and aquarium tanks filled with chrysalis that will eventually take shape as monarchs and fly away.
The storm knocked over a cherry tree and a large silver maple, but the garden was not seriously bothered. McNamara said with the shade provided by the trees now gone, she has to water more because the heat is wilting the garden just a bit.
The Linwood Arboretum at Wabash and Belhaven avenues was also a stop on the annual Little Garden tour. The volunteers here are meticulous in their care of this little oasis of color and species along the bike path. The group took the opportunity to dedicate a special memorial garden Sunday, in honor of the crew of the Space Shuttle Challenger.
To learn more about the Little Gardens Club call Jan, (609) 432-8695.