They are gorgeous. Intimate. Grand. Colorful. Hidden. And they will remain so until next May. They are the gardens of the Georgetown Garden Tour, an annual springtime event that lets outsiders in and plumps up the coffers of many vital local projects.
“Having to shelve 2020’s gorgeous garden puzzle was disappointing. Nine months of work finding the gardens, figuring out how best to advertise and publicize the tour, and to generally make the day as special as possible, all for naught,” writes Garden Tour co-chair Liz Evans via email.
Last year’s tour brought about a thousand people through Georgetown. The tour is an important fundraiser for the Georgetown Garden Club, which, in turn, gives away the $50,000 to $70,000 it raises to the “friends” groups of Montrose Park, Rose Park and Volta Park, the plantings at Book Hill (behind the library along Wisconsin Avenue), Trees for Georgetown and other local organizations.
The Georgetown Garden Club is still figuring out numbers, but many projects will not get funded this year, making an impact on life in Georgetown, where residents live daily with the benefits of the club’s largesse. Though the club has some money in reserve, it will be giving much less because of the loss of the tour. It donates every dime it makes on the tour, aside from money spent for advertising, and the tour is staffed by neighborhood
volunteers (my Rose Park neighbors always pitch in big-time).
“There’s a sense of loss in that we won’t be able to do new projects, new gardens, new beds at Book Hill,” writes Club President Vicki Campbell. And, she explains, it is about more than just money. “The loss of the coming together of the neighborhood and inviting guests to share the beauty of our village, to share in the beauty of life and nature, that’ll have to wait until next year.”
The Georgetown Garden Tour has been running for almost a century, almost as long as the Georgetown Garden Club has been in existence. It has always given money away to Georgetown projects, though one of its first donations was to the Bishop’s Garden on the close at the National Cathedral.
This year’s gardens will have to wait till next spring, if the owners are still willing, because most gardens do not show well in the fall. Brooke Carnot, who volunteered her garden this year, says she’ll sign up again. “On May 6, I’ll post photos and video as a way to share in the bounty. We will be happy to be on the tour in 2021 and there will be a new feature — I added a vegetable garden during COVID-19. Gardening this spring has brought me a sense of hope in the continuation of life in a way that is more visceral and cathartic than ever.”
As club member Georgina Owen Horsey points out, “Gardening is about the future.
In that regard, it is the best thing you can do now. Whatever you do in the garden is about thinking ahead.” So think ahead to May 2021, when the roses are just out, the locals are welcoming you onto their back patios, the club is raising money to beautify the neighborhood and even the lowliest tree box looks lovely as the crowds walk past.