Garden Tour Visitors Enchanted by Sounds of Water

Georgetowners and guests were lulled by the sounds of flowing, spouting, running water in ground and wall-mounted fountains, ponds and pool statues at almost every one of the eight lush private gardens open Saturday May 13 to participants in the 93rd annual Georgetown Garden Tour.

The fountains in many of the gardens of typical narrow, multistoried single-owner Georgetown townhouses that front most the streets of Georgetown, often were used to break up and act as visual and sensual dividers in the long and narrow back yard gardens on display — several sloping up or down to different levels. Shade plants and sitting areas were featured next to the dividing pond in the large, long gardens of Florence Auld and Frank Marshall at 3265 N St. and of Robert Luskin and Charlotte Fallon on 2911 O St., for example.

The flowing water of most of the tour garden fountains, could be heard from the front garden “room” often closest to the house. That area often featured a beautiful wood table, chairs and a small barbeque grill (none of these garden tour houses had the large second kitchens, couches and large lounge chaises that many of the outdoor rooms of the Georgetown House Tour featured last month). The garden areas beyond the fountains were often focused on plantings, flowers and areas to read and to relax.

Photo by Peggy Sands.

“When I bought this home over 20 years ago after moving from a larger home in Spring Valley, there was not even a back entrance from the house to the long back property of dirt and gravel that was the back garden,” Anne Emmet of 1330 30th Street told the Georgetowner. “I was going to add a big extension but could not get a permit since the home was built circa 1840 and had a historic marker. So I designed a garden – with two “rooms,” one close to the kitchen with comfortable chairs, tables and a barbeque; and the back garden with a fountain with areas in the garden of flowers and groundcover, for reading.” Emmet works almost daily in her garden, she said, but also spends a lot of time there reading and just enjoying being outside. The feature that made her garden one of the favorites on the tour was a large trellis draped with fragrant flowers dividing the garden with a wide bench at one side. “The sound of water from the fountain is so delightful while doing all these activities, Emmit said. But that held for the various wallside fountains of other homes on the tour as well.

Photo by Peggy Sands.

Visitors on the garden tour also seemed to be most interested in the sundry types of  garden paths that tied the various elements of each garden together. The paths varied from closely fit flagstone, decorative gravel, bricks, grass and combinations such as flagstone surrounded by inlaid garden stones. Often the paths led to side gardens and small benches under the trees. Maybe it’s due to the response from being shut in during the pandemic in 2020-22, but many Georgetown garden tour visitors remarked on how the gardens were used — not just decorative — and how they would use them for daily activities to be outside.

Photo by Peggy Sands.

Of course the highlight of the tour was the stunning garden estate Evermay with its expansive gardens, lawns, rose collection, benches, modern and classic styled fountains, historic statuary and large graceful gazebo. Built in 1801, Evermay is one of Georgetown’s most historic garden estates. Its current owner Dr. Sachiko Kuno a generous supporter of many Georgetown enterprises, hosted the garden tour this year by opening up her gardens.  Among its many features is a giant American Elm – one of the only specimens in the District to survive an elm disease many years ago.

But one thing no garden on the tour this year seemed to grow anymore are vegetables. Tomatoes? Zuchini? Carrots? Did not see any.  But on both sides of the long entertainment kitchen and dining room pathway of the breathtaking home of architect Dale and Melissa Overmyer, there were rows of fragrant herbs! They were in the ground – not pots – and obviously picked and cultivated. Recognized in this working garden were thyme, rosemary, sage, lavender, basil and mint. 

The tour, tea and all volunteers at the entrance tables and throughout each garden were organized by the Georgetown Garden Club and many volunteers from Christ Church where the tea of sandwiches and pastries was served. And the predicted rain held off until 4 p.m.

For a slide carousel of photos from the tour, click on the images below.


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