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Aug. 10, 2020 | Monday
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Great NOTL Walkabout: Hort Society Garden Tour
Eight of the nine recipients of the Shaw’s Town Previews program stand with artistic director Tim Carroll and executive director Tim Jennings after the cheque presentation on Tuesday. (Brittany Carter/Niagara Now)

The NOTL Horticultural Society’s annual garden tour brought aficionados and novices together to walk through eight of the best gardens in Niagara-on-the-Lake’s historic district on Saturday.

The Lake Report wandered some of the gardens to discover what enticed people to visit the private greenspaces.

No two people had the same story – the walk attracted people from all over, including local garden and out-of-town admirers.

Some people, like Brian and Michele Schmidt from Buffalo, are devoted garden tour followers who travel from town to town, stopping to visit as many greenspaces as they can manage.

Brian said they enjoy the tours both to find ideas for their own space back home, and to appreciate the beauty of each varied location.

Some walked, some biked, some drove, but those who came shared their love of landscaping and garden design, while admiring the skill and hard work that has gone into each unique space.

Other tourees, like Dennis and Martie Murray from Port Dalhousie, said Saturday’s tour was the first garden walk they had ever attended.

“We always wanted to visit the gardens,” said Martie, adding that she found there to be an abundance of great ideas that she planned to take home to her own garden. The variety from house to house really struck her, she said.

“There’s been something unique about every one.”

The Murray’s often made time for the Rotary Holiday House Tours in the winter but said they haven’t been able to make it to the gardens. Now that Martie is retired, she said she could finally find time to visit.

More than just garden admirers, The Lake Report stumbled upon local resident and artist Gail Appel, who welcomed us into her studio space on Johnson Street, next to the first house on the walk, at 248 Palantine Street.

“I suggested they take part in the walk,” Appel said of her neighbours, who made it onto the list this year. She had participated a few years ago, and said she really enjoyed opening up her garden for the tour.

That welcoming spirit is a common trait for Appel who was quick to invite us in to take a quick look at her studio. The house is her home away from home, which she has transformed into an eclectic studio to work on her art and store her finished pieces.

As well as collected art pieces, many of her own paintings line the walls. She said her favourite were the flying apron pieces in the kitchen.

“In the kitchen I have my flying aprons, because once I retired, my aprons went flying off,” she said.

Her artistic eye is what made her space one of the stops on the garden tour several years ago. Now, she said she just admirers the work of the other gardeners.

The garden tour has been happening annually since at least 2012 and shows no signs of stopping.

With about 1,100 people taking part this year, the society was “thrilled and so pleased,” with the tour this year, said Cindy Grant, vice president of the NOTL Horticultural Society and chair of the Garden Tour.

The amount of money raised wasn’t finalized by Wednesday morning, but Grant said the event was a success.

“The money raised goes directly toward the hort society. We use it for horticultural gardening initiative in the town. We support the town, we supported the Heritage Trail, we support schoolsin their gardening projects. Communities in Bloom, and just any gardening initiatives in the town.

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