Hidden Treasures

Area residents will have the opportunity to discover locations which celebrate the beauty of the natural world during Jamestown Audubon’s Secret Gardens Tour.

Scheduled for Saturday, June 29, from 10:30 a.m. to 4 p.m., the Secret Gardens Tour will offer attendees walks through six gardens; two in Jamestown, two in Lakewood and two in Busti. Gardens by Kay and Gary Johnson, Ruth Lundin, Janet Brown, Linda McCallum, Kathy Holdridge and Sharon Lisciandro are featured.

The tour is self-guided, and aims to inspire, educate and impress those who participate. The owners of the properties will also be present to answer questions and provide background about their gardens. Audubon naturalists, Jennifer Schlick, Linda O’Brien, Don Watts, Rachel Eckman and Meghan Hammond will also act as birding assistants at one of the garden locations to facilitate a bird-watching program.

According to Merle Szydlo, Audubon volunteer and Secret Gardens Tour organizer, this year’s tour is the 10th to occur, and more than $29,000 in unrestricted funds have been raised for the Jamestown Audubon.

“There are a lot of people out there who love to look at gardens, and you do not have to be a gardener to enjoy our tour,” said Szydlo. “What we do is pick five or six beautiful gardens that are hidden and you can’t see from the road or, in Ruth’s case you live so far out in the country that you’d have to be lost in order to drive by it. “

In addition to giving participants an aesthetically pleasing experience, the tour also serves as a means to get outdoors and be active.

“It’s a great excuse to get out and walk on a self-guided tour,” said Szydlo. “One of the gardens in Busti is enormous – it’s measure in acres. You know how sometimes when you drive by you can’t see the house but you see those stone pillars at the end of the driveway and you know that somewhere up that driveway is something spectacular; well that’s Kay Johnson’s Garden.”

According to Lundin, president of the Jamestown Audubon Center and Sanctuary, she and her husband just built a new home and they wanted it to be as Earth-friendly as they could make it.

“One of the big concerns when you build a home is the fact that you’re making an impervious area where the waters that run off into the creeks may cause flooding downstream,” said Lundin. “So, we found a young man, David Lanfear, who specializes in doing living gardens on roofs. It’s a different kind of plant than you often have in gardens. And, most of my yard is not a yard, I’ve actually planted prairie grasses and wildflowers because I don’t mow the lawn. But, I do have to weed my roof.”

The tour creates a loop, which will take participants through various towns past businesses and restaurants, that could comfortably be done in four hours. Most, if not all of the gardens, are also handicap accessible.

“It’s a fun time, and a nice way to enjoy Jamestown and the area for a day,” said Szydlo. “You drive down a street you’ve never driven before . There is a fragility to gardens, they may look beautiful today, but might not exist in 10 years – so seize the day.”

The Boomerang Cafe, 897 Southwestern Drive in Jamestown, will also participate in the tour by offering a special to-go sandwich, fruit salad and chips lunch in addition to its normal menu.

The tour will occur rain or shine. Tickets for the tour are $10 and can be purchased at the Jamestown Audubon, 1600 Riverside Road, as well as Four Seasons Nursery, Mike’s Nursery, Secret Garden Flower Shop, Peterson Farm, Robert’s Nursery, Stillwater Garden Market and Lake View Gardens. The tickets can also be purchased at each garden location. Each ticket will provide directions, parking recommendations and a map to assist participants in finding the gardens. A Google map version of the garden locations is also available at www.jamestownaudubon.org. For more information call 569-2345.