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Little gardens make a big impression

Robert and Margaret Menditto of Galloway accentuate their garden with splashes of color in containers. Robert and Margaret Menditto of Galloway accentuate their garden with splashes of color in containers.

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.

Auxilia Day of Port Republic enjoys the Little Garden Tour Sunday, July 15 and stops to sit in this wonderful space for entertaining at the home of John and Grace Drexel in Blue Heron Pines in Galloway. Auxilia Day of Port Republic enjoys the Little Garden Tour Sunday, July 15 and stops to sit in this wonderful space for entertaining at the home of John and Grace Drexel in Blue Heron Pines in Galloway.

Homeowner and master gardener John Drexel in his backyard where a pergola helps create an elegant space with a feel of Tuscany. Homeowner and master gardener John Drexel in his backyard where a pergola helps create an elegant space with a feel of Tuscany.

An arbor helps create a secret garden effect around a fountain at the home of Barbara Naame in Egg Harbor Township. An arbor helps create a secret garden effect around a fountain at the home of Barbara Naame in Egg Harbor Township.

Egg Harbor Township gardener Barbara Naame and her nephew, Dr. Lawrence Naame of Absecon, enjoy the walkways through her delightful English garden. Egg Harbor Township gardener Barbara Naame and her nephew, Dr. Lawrence Naame of Absecon, enjoy the walkways through her delightful English garden.

Fountains help make Barbara Naame’s English garden a place of peaceful respite. Fountains help make Barbara Naame’s English garden a place of peaceful respite.

A dragonfly garden at the home of Jean McNamara in Somers Point A dragonfly garden at the home of Jean McNamara in Somers Point

Jean McNamara and her son Tim attend to the sedum in her Somers Point English garden. Jean McNamara and her son Tim attend to the sedum in her Somers Point English garden.

Pollination is important for the success of a garden and the bees are enjoying a meal on the globe thistle in Jean McNamara’s garden. Pollination is important for the success of a garden and the bees are enjoying a meal on the globe thistle in Jean McNamara’s garden.

Dinner time in Somers Point as this mother sparrow feeds her baby with food she gathered at the feeder across the yard on Sunday’s Little Gardens annual summer tour. Dinner time in Somers Point as this mother sparrow feeds her baby with food she gathered at the feeder across the yard on Sunday’s Little Gardens annual summer tour.

This colorful creature is feeding on the leaf of a milkweed plant and will soon enter the cocoon stage and emerge as a beautiful monarch butterfly. This colorful creature is feeding on the leaf of a milkweed plant and will soon enter the cocoon stage and emerge as a beautiful monarch butterfly.


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