GARDEN VARIETY: Between the hidden garden tours hosted by Trenton’s Old Mill Hill Society and Lambertville’s Kalmia Club, both on Saturday, June 11, a total of 30 gardens will be on view. Shown is a lush backyard retreat from last year’s Mill Hill tour. (Photo by Jeffrey Tryon)
By Wendy Greenberg
Views of backyard retreats with lush landscapes and creative uses of outdoor spaces will be plentiful on Saturday, June 11 when the Old Mill Hill Society in Trenton and Kalmia Club in Lambertville both reveal selected “hidden gardens” tucked behind historic and contemporary homes as part of their annual tours.
The Kalmia Club’s 24th Annual Hidden Gardens of Lambertville Tour is a self-guided tour running from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., rain or shine, starting at the historic pink Kalmia Clubhouse at 39 York Street in Lambertville.
The Old Mill Hill Society (OMHS) is again offering its annual Hidden Gardens tour from 12 to 5 p.m., also rain or shine. Both events showcase a variety of home architectural styles, spaces, and ages of homes and gardens.
“It’s a mixture of well-established and newer gardens,” said OMHS President Tom Griffith, who noted the tour is his personal favorite Mill Hill event. “There are a couple of hidden, older, very beautifully-maintained gardens that have been growing for 20 to 30 years, and there is also a work in progress — new residents who have started a garden on what was once an overgrown lot.”
While the Mill Hill tour usually has 15 stops, this year there are 22. Neither tour pre-publishes its garden stops. Both tout the community-bonding that is a result of working and walking together. “It’s a great way for neighbors to get involved in the community, and a low-risk for COVID outdoor event,” said Griffith.
The Lambertville Tour was postponed in 2020 and 2021, making this the first tour since 2019. Garden Tour Committee Chairwoman Donna Puluka is excited that the tour is back. “We encourage everyone to come out for a good cause, helping us raise much-needed money to replenish our scholarship fund, while exploring our historic riverfront town during a great day out with friends and family,” she said.
This year, the Hidden Gardens of Lambertville tour includes eight gardens, and will feature a garden containing edibles and
medicinal plants alongside colorful plants and blooms; a garden with stunning views of the Delaware River marked by greenery winding around a charming settee and brick patio; and an American Cottage-style garden that features a view of Music Mountain and water.
The Lambertville tour will also showcase an homage to animals and imaginary creatures; a formerly overgrown yard transformed into a haven with a “knot” garden and gravel front; and a rear garden designed around a large, circular patio.
The garden tour planners hope viewers will get inspired by the innovative settings, splashes of color, and variety of plantings.
“The amount of tips gleaned in a few hours can be real estate-changing,” said Kalmia’s Shirah Gray. “At worst, you stopped to smell the roses and possibly discovered an heirloom variety. Hence, gardening groups from all over the state have regularly attended Kalmia Club’s Hidden Gardens of Lambertville Tour.”
On June 13, Kalmia will celebrate the 125th anniversary of its membership in the national General Federation and the N.J. State Federation of Women’s Clubs with a dedication ceremony for a National Historic Register plaque on its historic clubhouse, which was a boy’s school and a Quaker Meetinghouse, before being gifted to the club by the congregation in 1910. The clubhouse’s pink color is in honor of flower Kalmia latifolia. It is also on the N.J. Register of Historic Places.
Tickets are $20 in advance and $25 day of and can be purchased online until 8 p.m. on June 10 via PayPal at kalmiaclub.org/events.htm. Proceeds assist with community outreach and annual scholarships for local women from South Hunterdon High School. Tickets can also be picked up in Lambertville at Bucks on Bridge at 25 Bridge Street and Blue Raccoon at 6 Coryell Street, or at the clubhouse on tour day June 11.
Mill Hill Society’s 2022 Garden Tour tickets, at $20, are available at TrentonMillHill.org or on the day of the event at Artworks, 19 Everett Alley, Trenton. Proceeds benefit OMHS, which supports historic preservation in the area. The tour has played an important role in the restoration of the neighborhood, according to OMHS. The neighborhood showcases many 19th century homes.
A local business has donated free tickets to disadvantaged residents, Griffith said. But even at the going rate, the ticket prices are the same as last year. “At $20 that’s less than $1 a garden,” he said.