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Oct. 16, 2021 | Saturday
Local News
Shaw Garden Tour is a meticulously planned late-summer dream
Carol Tuck-Riggs, co-ordinator of the garden experts from Master Gardeners Niagara, oversees things at 83 Gage St. on Saturday morning. (Richard Harley)

The Shaw Garden Tour isn't just a matter of finding nice gardens and bringing people in to ooh and ah. It's a comprehensive event that provides real, expert-reviewed information about plants and gardens.

And this year was a bit special, being the first time the tour has taken place at the end of the summer.

On Saturday, hundreds of people strolled through Niagara-on-the-Lake gardens, taking in some of the late summer plants.

Cheryl Morris, communications chair for the Shaw Guild, which puts on the event, said everyone was enthusiastic about the "fall" event, since there was uncertainty about hosting it in the summer due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, and last year's event had to be cancelled.

"Gardens are still beautiful, a little different than in June," she said.

She said the guild sold more than 700 tickets to the tour.

Garden manager Nora Cassiday  said she thinks the numbers show a lot of people missed the event last year and were itching to get back out.

"People are so thrilled this morning. They're just beside themselves with the garden tour and the sunshine," she said.

Everyone who attended the event was asked to wear a mask while in the gardens. Morris said it was nice to hold it before provincial rules for vaccine mandates take effect, which likely would have caused some confusion.

Anyone who attended received a book listing all the plants along the tour, which are identified by experts from Master Gardeners Niagara.

"There's a lot (of plants), and they're identified by stakes with the name of the plant on them," Morris said.

There was also a master gardener, or two, on-site at all of the gardens along the tour. "They're real experts, so they're great to be on our team."

Carol Tuck-Riggs, of Master Gardeners Niagara, was the co-ordinator of all the garden experts this year.

She said when the experts go through the gardens, they look for plants that are a bit more "rare" or special to label. For the other more common plants, the on-site experts can tell people about them if they ask.

"We put the little labels on, as well as we put them in the brochure that the tour has," she said.

Some of the plants people have in the garden in the fall are perennials, like trees and bushes, which have different blooms and foliage in the fall than in June.

"For instance, chrysanthemums, which are normal plants, everybody knows what they are, they would bloom now but wouldn't be blooming in the spring. Tulips and daffodils might still be blooming depending on temperature in June, but they're not here now. Roses, as well, coming a little bit better now. So it's a different foliage, a different bloom."

Tuck-Riggs spent the day travelling among gardens on the tour, making sure all the experts had what they needed.

"This is a beautiful tour, and the people are most gracious in their homes in letting people come in," she said.

Morris also commended the scores of Shaw Guild volunteers it takes to arrange the event.

"They were all great. Everybody has their own area of expertise. Some people looked after sponsorship, the day-of logistics, which is quite extensive, especially with COVID, but other things too like all the kits for the gardens, that the people need. They did a great job."

 

 

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