Secret gardens revealed in annual tour


For two days only, a dozen noteworthy gardens hidden behind gates and fences across Wilmington will open to the public for the 2014 Secret Garden Tour.

The tour, organized by the Lower Cape Fear Historical Society, will take place Sept. 19 and Sept. 20 from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.

Pat Hardee, co-chair of the committee tasked with selecting the gardens and member of the historical society’s board of directors, said most gardens on the tour are maintained by homeowners.

“These are not great big, grand gardens that are taken care of by lawn companies. These are gardens taken care of by individual gardeners,” Hardee said during an Aug. 27 phone interview.

Yet the gardens are far from ordinary. Hardee said the selection committee looked for something special in each garden, like statuary and water features, that attendees could not otherwise see.

Plein air painters will set up in seven of the gardens.

The gardens on the tour are clustered together in different sections of town, with five downtown and four in Forest Hills, so attendees can park and walk to each stop. The remaining three are located on Oriole Drive, Oleander Drive near the Wilmington Municipal Golf Course, and in Joshua’s Landing off Greenville Loop Road.

New to the 2014 tour are five curbside gardens in the historic district of downtown Wilmington. Hardee noted that local residents chose to invest time in the small spaces between the sidewalk and the curb, which are owned by the city.

“The property is owned by the city but these homeowners have taken it upon themselves to tend them as part of their lawns and beautify those with different foliage and plants,” Hardee said.

Tour attendees are invited to attend two complimentary demonstrations Sept. 20. At 11 a.m., Dee Ivey of The Plant Place will explain how to create a fairy garden, followed by a 1 p.m. presentation by Maria Williams from the Church of the Servant Episcopal Church on flower arrangements for the sanctuary.

Tickets can be purchased directly from the historical society online, at, or by calling the Latimer House at (910) 762-0492. The cost is $15.

Tickets are also available at Sweet Nectar’s Florist, A Proper Garden, The Plant Place, The Transplanted Garden, Lou’s Flower World, Barnes and Noble and all Harris Teeter stores in Wilmington and Leland. Tickets will be available at Joshua’s Landing on Sept. 20 only.

Proceeds from the Secret Garden Tour facilitate other programming offered by the historical society throughout the year.


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