Private Gardens Open for a Day

~ by Abigail Terres ~

Nantucket Garden Club Annual House and Garden TourWhen visitors round the bend of Brant Point Lighthouse, beginning their trip to Nantucket in August, there is no escaping the sweet smell of privet that is cast over the island. Daffodils, hydrangeas, privet, and more are natives to this island and in many opinions, truly stand for its beauty. There is an organization, like no other, on Nantucket whose goal is preserving, perfecting and promoting the knowledge of gardening, plants, flowers, and horticulture.

This Wednesday, August 5, from 11 am to 4:30 pm (rain or shine) the Nantucket Garden Club will hold its 61st annual House and Garden Tour entitled “A Day on Darling.” This year the tour will take place in houses located on Darling and Farmer streets, (known as the Fish Lots). Throughout the homes the Garden Club members will provide and set up exquisite flower arrangements to compliment each. Victor Hugo-Brunt author of An Historical Survey of the Physical Development of Nantucket, describes the Fish Lots as the common land that bordered the Great Harbor, also stating that they were named Fish Lots because their original use was a site for drying fish. Darling Street lies in the path of the Fish Lots, which is why the members chose this specific historical site for the tour.

For more than 60 years, starting in 1945, the Nantucket Garden Club has succeeded in contributing to the beauty of Nantucket by supporting conservation initiatives that protect the island’s fragile and historic environment. These historic sites, as we know them today were built hundreds of years ago, when Nantucket was first settled. Today, that allows the club to put on the House and Garden Tour on this island.

The Nantucket Garden Club is a member of the Garden Club of America. In the summertime, this club beckons its members, throughout the U.S., who spend much of their vacation time in service to the Nantucket community. The NGC sponsors three long-term civic projects on Nantucket that are a major part of the community calendar on the island. One of those projects is the Nantucket Garden Club House Tour.

The Nantucket Garden Club House Tour is the one and only annual event that is a fundraiser of the Nantucket Garden Club. This event gives money right back to the community in scholarships and grants. Josette Blackmore, who co-chairs the 2015 Nantucket Garden Club House Tour with Lois Druckenmiller, explains that “we give scholarships to graduating seniors from Nantucket High School who are persuing careers in agriculture, in addition to giving grants to organizations such as Maria Mitchell Association, the Nantucket Historical Association, Nantucket Preservation Trust and more.”

Nantucket Garden Club Annual House and Garden TourBlackmore, who describes herself as an “amateur gardener” who has always appreciated gardens, says some of the most beautiful gardens she has ever seen are right here on Nantucket. She became involved the Nantucket Garden Club about six or seven years ago, as her friends told her about the House & Garden Tour. “There is a really great group of people and volunteers working at the Club and I am very pleased to be able to do it [co-chair].”

Blackmore adds that in the past few years hundred of people have attended this popular event, a somewhat equal mix between island residents and off-islanders. The annual House and Garden Tour is an opportunity to glimpse many historic and new homes and gardens here. Each year a different neighborhood is selected. from ‘Sconset to Monomoy to Brant Point.

It is the duty of members of the club to select which houses will be shown on the tour. The members may recommend houses of which they will choose the right one based on a “something special,” that can be spectacular view or a historical aspect.

Tickets to the Annual House and Garden Tour are available August 1-4 from a table on Main Street, at G.S. Hill Gallery on Straight Wharf, at the Sconset Rotary, and at Bartlett’s Farm. On Wednesday, tickets will also be available at homes the day of the tour. Tickets for this event are $60 per person with revenues supporting the local community and conservation projects.