The Monroe Historical Society is offering a peek at some of the town's premier gardens this Saturday at its first-ever Monroe Garden Tour. On Saturday, June 11, from 1 to 5 p.m., five local gardens — including its own Memorial Garden at the Beardsley Homestead — will be highlighted.
Tickets are $15 and can be purchased in advance at Edith Wheeler Memorial Library, the Town Clerk's Office, Sunshine Nursery and Country Hearts. The rain date is Sunday, June 12.
On the day of the event, tickets will be available at the Beardsley Homestead, 31 Great Ring Road.
Nancy Zorena, president of the Monroe Historical Society, said that Madeline Marshall, chairperson of the event, proposed the Garden tour as a way to commemorate the completion of the Memorial Garden.
“We've been working on the Memorial Garden for several years now and Madeline thought that this would be a great way to showcase it,” Zorena stated. “That was the inspiration for Saturday's event.”
Zorena credits Marshall with spearheading the Memorial Garden and organizing helpers, such as volunteer Marion Lindsley, to work on the project. “We've also had Scouts in the springtime help us with weeding and putting in mulch,” Zorena said.
Along with the Memorial Garden, the tour will exhibit four colorful and diverse gardens in town. “We wanted to provide interesting gardens that will inspire people,” Marshall said. “Although there may have been some professional intervention, it's really been the homeowners who have sculpted the gardens that you will see.”
Marshall said that although she was responsible for choosing this year's selected gardens, the Monroe Historical Society is asking residents to let them know if they would like to be included on next year's tour. A committee will then be able to choose from a variety of outdoor scenes for next year's benefit.
“We have a hidden garden that is surrounded by a historic Cape as one of the places showcased this year,” Marshall said. “There's beautiful stonework on the patio and a nice pool design.”
Another garden with a historic bent is housed on a 1796 property that includes buildings that were originally used as a carriage house and barn.
Marshall said another garden, located in a different section of Monroe, is filled with exotic tropical plants, a lush lawn and many beautiful raised beds. This residence will also have several outdoor sculptures created by local artists Joe DeMarco, of Shelton, and Philip Levine, of Stratford. “These will be a nice addition to this property,” Marshall added.
Light refreshments will be available at each site. In addition, plants and memorabilia from the Monroe Historical Society may be purchased at the Beardsley Homestead throughout the afternoon.
Zorena said all of the proceeds from the Garden Tour will be used for fall programs and maintaining the Society's buildings. “There's always expenses,” she noted. “We have a lot of overhead. We do this for the town and to preserve Monroe's rich history.”
Costs include $5 to $6,000 for insurance and an additional $5,000 for heating the Beardsley Homestead. Zorena said they applied for a matching grant so the Historical Society could make the building more energy-efficient by installing storm windows. “We still have to come up with our part of the matching grant, though,” Zorena noted.
Though the organization is fortunate to receive funding through matching grants, she said the board must continuously find funding for its portion of the grant. “People don't realize that it's very involved,” she said. “This is why we're always trying to raise funds.”
The Monroe Historical Society's annual summer camp for children, Hands on History, will be on Monday, June 27, to Friday, July 1. Zorena said this is the first time the camp will be offered for a full week. There are limited spaces available, so Zorena suggests registering soon.
For information about the Monroe Garden Tour, go to www.monroehistoricsociety.com or call (203) 261-8554.