Flynn Garden Tour shows off Shelburne in new ways

A formal vegetable garden parterre in Charlotte was featured on last year’s tour - this year there will be more edible gardens and potting sheds.  Photo by Carolyn Bates,

A formal vegetable garden parterre in Charlotte was featured on last year’s tour – this year there will be more edible gardens and potting sheds.  Photo by Carolyn Bates,

The Friends of the Flynn Center for the Performing Arts will open the gates of private gardens, greenhouses, barns, and a home in Shelburne during the Flynn Garden Tour on Sunday, July 14 from 10 am-3 pm.

This year the tour is “mixing it up” with some surprising offerings. “We can always count on Shelburne for some of the most dazzling private gardens,” says Cheryl Dorschner, who has volunteered with the Flynn Garden Tour for more than a decade, “but this year we chose six gardens so wildly different from each other that altogether they demonstrate the surprising range of what it means to be a Vermont gardener.”

The venue for the event is different each year so participants get to see a range of properties from one year to the next. Held in Shelburne back in 2006, the garden tour took place in Charlotte last year, and organizers are busy planning for 2014’s tour of Williston properties.

This year there is something for everyone: opulent award-winning landscape architecture, tasteful seclusion in a suburban neighborhood, a fragrant thyme-covered labyrinth, acres of gardens that are naturally a birder’s paradise, the ultimate kitchen garden where plants are arranged by origin, and two greenhouse-potting sheds to make any putterer green with envy.

“Gardening isn’t just about high-end specimen plants and pretty perennials – though this tour delivers that too,” says Dorschner, a co-chair of the event. “Each destination speaks to a different aspect of gardening: classic English perennial garden color schemes, the necessity and beauty of native species in the landscape, whole-system sustainable homesteads, the landscape as a living art form, gardening as religious practice – it’s all on display.”

A highlight of this self-guided tour is a very private home and landscape with panoramic views of Lake Champlain. Designed by H. Keith Wagner and Jeffrey Hodgson of Wagner Hodgson Landscape Architects in Burlington, this project was honored by the American Society of Landscape Architects (AIA) last year.  The architects will give talks at 11 am and at 2 pm on Saturday to share their philosophy behind this native, low maintenance landscape and to answer questions.

One family’s homestead models all the right ingredients for a growing family: poolside gardens, playhouse, vegetable plots, campfire, and woodland trails along the river. It becomes more than a pretty setting since books such as “Last Child in the Woods” and “Noah’s Garden” changed the national conversation by saying children need to grow up surrounded by nature and launched the phrase “nature deficit.”

Ticket holders gain access to six private gardens, one home, and artists working en plein air, displays, talks, and garden sculpture from 10 am-3 pm with complimentary tea from 3-4 pm at Gardener’s Supply in Williston.

Boxed lunches from Chef’s Corner will be available for purchase at one garden site. Raffle tickets for high-end gardeners’ indulgences are sold throughout the day.

A full listing of activities, details, and directions is published in a nearly 30-page booklet that comes with every purchased ticket.

“One hundred percent of ticket, lunch, and raffle purchases do great good works in Vermont communities,” says Paula Roberts, Flynn membership and special events manager.

“Proceeds enable area school children to attend and participate in the Flynn’s matinee educational theater programs,” Roberts says. “Over 17 years, the Flynn Garden Tour has raised more than $270,000 to benefit bringing school children to Flynn performances.”

Tickets are $40 at FlynnTix Regional Box Office (802) 863-5966 (or 86-Flynn), on the web at, and are available at Gardener’s Supply Company in Williston, Lang Farm Nursery in Essex Junction, Horsford Gardens & Nursery in Charlotte, and Shelburne Supermarket.

This is usually a sold-out event so check sites for ticket availability.

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