Experience the Symphony of Gardens

Published 11:57 pm Saturday, April 26, 2008

Stroll through beautiful, vibrant May gardens during the Symphony of Gardens Tour, from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. this Friday and Saturday. This is a rare opportunity to view 12 exquisite private and estate gardens in historic Natchez. It consists of self-guided tours of a variety of gardens, including a colorful courtyard overflowing with flower-filled containers, an elaborate sculpture garden, and an Asian-inspired garden setting at a majestic plantation in Church Hill. Gardens are filled with surprises and will offer many ideas for tour participants to try in their own gardens.

Musical performances by professional artists who are participating in the Natchez Festival of Music during May will take place at a garden each afternoon of the tour. The event is produced by volunteers and Grow Natchez Gardens, with participation from the Natchez Festival of Music. Profits from the sale of tickets will be used to further the work of these organizations.

The tour celebrates beauty, both in landscapes and in music. People who love to garden can become inspired by design ideas and fascinating plants and plant combinations. People who love beauty will appreciate the artistry of gardening and the beautiful sounds of music in garden locales.

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Twelve town and estate gardens will be open for tour participants and include Mount Repose, Greelea, King Courtyard at La Croze Townhouse, Smith/Schmieg Gardens, The Towers, Doherty-Crews garden, Ravennaside, McCullough walled garden, Bluff Top and Riverside gardens and The Cedars. Plants reflect a diversity of types, according to the homeowners’ preferences. Some are traditional for Mississippi historic landscapes; others are contemporary versions of old favorites. Designs range from formal and classic to contemporary and informal. The event will take place rain or shine.

We are indebted to the generosity of garden owners who are sharing their inspiring gardens for this event, without any financial remuneration. We are also grateful for the generous supports of local donors, including Britton & Koontz, United Mississippi and Concordia Banks. We also appreciate the financial contribution from Fred’s Greenhouses and Garden Center.

Gardening will be celebrated at a dinner party from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. Friday organized by Grown Natchez Gardens, Inc., a non-profit organization formed to encourage the appreciation and practice of gardening.

On the lovely grounds of Monmouth Plantation in Natchez, the evening will include a cocktail reception, musical entertainment featuring artists participating in the Natchez Festival of Music and a seated dinner. Long Vue House and Gardens of New Orleans will be recognized during the evening for its efforts at restoring its historic gardens after sustaining severe damage during Hurricane Katrina.

Tickets for the evening event are $75 per person; $100 patron; $125 per pair; $175 patron pair. Patron level includes tickets to Symphony of Gardens Tour on Friday and Saturday, a Symphony of Gardens T-shirt and visor per person. For tickets, contact Natchez Visitors Center, 601-446-6345

Tickets for the Symphony of Gardens Tour can be purchased in advance or at the Natchez Visitors Center the day of each tour. One and two day tickets are available. Prices range from $10 to $25 per person. Call 601-446-6345 for details or see www.visitnatchez.com. Group discounts are offered for ten or more people. For group tour information, contact Natchez Pilgrimage Tours, 601-446-6631 or www.natchezpilgrimage.com.

You can see more details about all events at www.symphonyofgardenstour.com.

Karen Dardick is chairperson for the Symphony of Gardens Tour, an avid gardener and a freelance garden writer.