Tracking the 2007 Home and Garden Tours
Go ahead, unleash your inner voyeur
by Margaret Tearman, Bay Weekly staff writer
Once a year, garden gates are unlocked, curtains pulled aside, doors thrown open and the curious are invited to c’mon in and take a peek.
It’s a bit like sneaking a glance in someone else’s medicine cabinet. Don’t we all have just a little bit of an urge to go where we usually aren’t allowed? To venture into private spaces, catch a glimpse of how others live?
Home and garden tours abound this time of year to satisfy our curiosity while raising money for good causes.
“Our tour gives you the chance to examine some of Annapolis’ treasures that are usually only glimpsed when walking by,” says Beth Dolezal of the Annapolis Secret Garden Tour.
The fees charged for each of the tours benefit local historic organizations or charities. Annapolis Secret Garden Tour, for example, supports the restoration of the 1774 Hammond-Harwood House, a Historic National Landmark.
As keepers of hearth and garden put out the welcome mat, we come inside to glimpse lifestyles different from our own.
We find ourselves in homes so elegant, so perfect, they look as if they’ve been lifted from glossy magazine covers. Or we long to sit down and relax in the most welcoming room we’ve ever entered.
In the grand old houses, we peer into history, discovering the secrets of some of our most treasured historic properties. These are not museums, remember, but homes where 21st century families live under rafters raised hundreds of years ago.
Dedicated pilgrims can satisfy their curiosity statewide in more than a dozen tours. This year, Anne Arundel and Calvert counties alone present five tours. Close to home, these tours open the doors to historic manors and funky beach cottages, inviting us to stroll through formal gardens framed by meticulously clipped boxwood or get lost in a riot of springtime blooms.
Along the way, we meet gracious homeowners and gardeners eager to share their experiences and ideas.
But be forewarned: These tours have been known to provoke strong cases of house envy. We may not stay, but we can take away inspiration for our own homes and garden.
Maryland Home and Garden Pilgrimage: Anne Arundel County
Date: Sat. May 19
Price: $25 includes tour book or $10 per property.
Starting point: Start at any point
Southern Anne Arundel County is home to many of Maryland’s most historic homes and churches. Nine of those make up this year’s Anne Arundel leg of the venerable, 77-year-old statewide Maryland Home and Garden Pilgrimage.
Three of the stops are public places: Mount Zion United Methodist Church, 17th century St. James’ Episcopal Church and Historic London Town and Gardens, the starting point, whose Woodland Garden is the beneficiary of this year’s tour.
The remaining six sites are private homes. For just one day, the owners and caretakers invite us to step back into time through the gateway of their home. You’ll walk down storied halls, wander through libraries and parlors and peek into bedchambers. What tales you’d hear if walls could speak.
Tulip Hill, one of the finest Georgian houses in the country, was built on land patented as Poplar Knowle in 1659. The home, listed as a National Historic Landmark, is noted in George Washington’s diary for the many visits he made to his friend Mr. Samuel Galloway for food and refreshment.
Obligation, a late 17th century home, was owned by the Stockett family for more than 275 years. It was purchased by the family of the current owner in 1946, thus running through only two families in 335 years.
Of special architectural interest is Portland Manor. An early Chesapeake house, it was constructed from oak and poplar timbers felled in 1754 and survives today as one of only a few examples of a rafter-roof frame in Maryland.
Tour amenities include box lunch (11:30am-2:30pm; $15) at Mt. Zion United Methodist Church and sit-down crab-cake and ham dinner prepared by the ladies of St. James Church (2-6pm; $18).
Secret Garden Tour of Annapolis
Date: Sunday June 3
Price: $25 advance; $30 includes lecture; $10 lecture only
Starting point: Pick up tickets and begin tour at Hammond-Harwood House, 19 Maryland Avenue, Annapolis.
Satisfy a childlike urge to stand on tiptoes and peek over the top of a wall or peer through an iron gate for a glimpse into a private paradise. Discover an enchanted nook, hidden from view.
The 8th annual Secret Garden Tour of Annapolis’ Historic District entices explorers and garden enthusiasts to discover 15 private gardens. Hidden off alleyways and behind aged walls are gardens of all shape and sizes: container gardens, shade gardens, children’s gardens, historic gardens, modern gardens, wild gardens, proper gardens and the miniature gardens of Gloucester Mews, just off Main Street Annapolis.
The secret of these hidden gems is that they’ll awaken sleeping gardeners and urge new experiments on the green thumbed.
To add instruction to inspiration, garden expert Andre Viette of Fishersville, Virginia, and daylily fame, author and radio host (WNAV Sat 8-10am) offers two lectures followed by question-and-answer sessions (times to be announced).
Refreshments served along the tour route by local pastry shops and volunteers.
North Beach Home & Garden Tour
Date: Sunday June 3
Starting point: St. Anthony’s Roman Catholic Church on Chesapeake Avenue. Parking free; shuttle buses provide transportation between tour sites.
Tropical storm Isabel bellowed through the Chesapeake Bay town of North Beach in 2003. When the winds quieted and the clouds lifted, the Bayfront boardwalk was in ruins along with many of the charming original beach houses.
In the wake of destruction, beauty often blossoms.
North Beach celebrates spring and renewal with the star of its 22nd annual Home & Garden tour, a new home rising from the storm-ravaged ruins of a Bayfront cottage.
The original 1928 bungalow, named Catalantic, was featured in the 1998 home tour. Damaged beyond repair, it was sold and the remains were removed. In its place is a sparkling new home, resplendent with modern luxuries including an elevator and a kitchen holding three tons of black pearl granite.
Eight other private homes open their doors for the tour, including a cozy cottage, a modern condominium and an office with a garden to envy.
Homeowners will be on hand and eager to share their little slice of heaven with tourists.
For a break between tour stops, the North Beach Senior Center hosts an art show.
The tour benefits the sponsoring North Beach House and Garden Club, dedicated to the beautification and enhancement of the town.
Eastport Home & Garden Tour
Date: Sunday June 10
Price: Tickets available early May, $20 in advance; $25 day of tour.
Starting point: The tour begins at Sarles Marina on Spa Creek.
Restrictions: No pets; no children under the age of 12.
The clinking of masts and water splashing against docks is ever-present in Annapolis’ breakaway community, the Maritime Republic of Eastport. The 2nd Annual Home and Garden Tour throws open the hatch for visitors to experience this distinctive culture and heritage.
This year, neighbors and tourists help celebrate a special birthday: the 100th anniversary of Sarles Boatyard, Eastport’s oldest marina. Joining in the spirit of the occasion, marina owner Deb Smith, is opening her private home to the tour. The home was built by a waterman in the 1920s. Though renovated over the years, it retains its original sense of history and place.
The tour’s 10 homes and gardens show off the uniqueness of Eastport’s eclectic neighborhoods.
“We’ve got something for everyone,” says organizer Phyllis Emmett. “We’ve got a very contemporary house, one live-work space, some that are old, some that aren’t as old.”
The tour keeps in the family: Eastport artists Rosemary Freitas Williams and Patsy Helmetag have designed a poster commemorating this years tour, and Williams is providing a house portrait drawing of each home on the tour for the program. The poster will be reproduced on a postcard, for sale the day of the tour Only ticket holders get tour program.
2007 Kitchens of Annapolis Tour and Seminar
Date: Saturday April 28
Time: Kitchen tour 2-7pm; design seminar 10am-1pm; lunch with the experts 1-2pm
Price: Kitchen tour only: $25 before April 18; $35 after. Design seminar only: $35; $55 with lunch.
If your taste runs more to the fruits of the garden than the garden itself, Historic Annapolis Foundation’s Kitchens of Annapolis Tour is your cup of tea.
A veritable buffet of cook spaces will be served when this tour opens the doors to private kitchens designed to complement two forms of the Annapolis lifestyle: small kitchens squeezed to fit the notoriously narrow spaces of the historic row house and vast, open, state-of-the-art kitchens designed for unconfined modern tastes.
“This tour was started in 2006 as a way to raise funds to renovate and reinterpret the 18th century kitchen in the William Paca House,” says Deborah Coons of Historic Annapolis
Worth the Trip Tours
Maryland Home and Garden Pilgrimage Charles County Home & Garden Tour. Saturday April 21. 410-821-6933; www.mhgp.org.
Spring Garden Tour of Historic Centerville. Sunday April 22 thru Monday April 23. 410-758-3010; www.qachistory.org.
21st Annual Towson Garden Day. Thursday, April 26. 410-357-0714; www.mdisfun.org.
Elkton’s Weave, Lunch and Gardens. Saturday, April 28. 410-398-5566; www.mdisfun.org.
Maryland Home and Garden Pilgrimage Prince George’s County Home & Garden Tour. Saturday, May 5. 410-821-6933; www.mhgp.org.
Rockville Homes & Hospitality Tour. Saturday May 12. 301-762-0096; www.peerlessrockville.org.
Maryland Home and Garden Pilgrimage Baltimore County Home & Garden Tour. Saturday May 12. 410-821-6933 www.mhgp.org.
36th Annual Historic Harbor House Tour. Sunday May 13. 410-675-6750; www.preservationsociety.com.
Maryland Home and Garden Pilgrimage Somerset and Worcester Counties Home and Garden Tour. Sunday May 13. 410-821-6933; www.mhgp.org.
Frederick’s Beyond the Garden Gates Tour. Saturday May 19 thru Sunday May 20. 301-694-2489; www.celebratefrederick.com.
Charles Village Garden Walk. Sunday June 3. 410-243-5033; www.charlesvillage.net.
Foundation. “It was such a success, we’ve decided to repeat it this year.”
With the Paca House kitchen complete, this year’s tour supports restoration of another room in the house.
This go-at-your-own-pace tour includes kitchens in nine historic homes in the City Dock area and neighboring Murray Hill.
But it’s not limited to kitchens anchored down. Permission is granted to come aboard a classic Trumpy motor yacht and check out the domain of a water-bound chef.
If your tastes run more to a land yacht, this tour has you covered: it includes kitchens in two luxury Winnebagos.
And if you’re hungry for more, a special treat will be served for tour-goers from 2 to 5pm with a behind-the-scenes kitchen tour and tasting at Loews Annapolis Hotel.
Other tour amenities include refreshments and entertainment at the Banneker-Douglass Museum and HistoryQuest.
If your own new kitchen is in the works, you’ll want to take home the ideas of leading Annapolis kitchen designers in a pre-tour design seminar and luncheon.
Be a Good Guest
Home and garden tourists are welcomed as a houseguests. Etiquette demands you leave your heels behind; soft-soled shoes are always recommended, sometimes required. Your hosts, and your feet, will thank you.
Most tours do not allow photographs of home interiors or other private spaces. Before you pull out your camera or picture-phone, make sure it’s okay.
All tours are rain or shine. If a rainy day is predicted, bring your umbrella and wear socks without holes; you’ll likely be asked to remove your wet shoes before going inside.