The 15th Back Alley Garden Tour and Tea is going all out to feature some 18 private backyard gardens that reflect 250 years of life in Shepherdstown. In keeping with the 250th year celebration of Shepherdstown this year's tour features the old, the very new and many innovative combinations, providing a chance for a backyard visit with neighbors so all can feel more connected.
The whole community gets involved as the tour approaches.
Morgan Grove Academy volunteered to make signs for the Tour Route. Kim Lowry, mother of a student at Morgan Grove and a perennial garden docent for the tour, asked if the school could help somehow. This came as perfect timing as new signs were desperately needed.
Chronicle Photo by Kelly Cambrel
Susan Wolcott makes sure her plants are in tiptop shape for the upcoming Back Alley Tour.
So many generous homeowners open their gates providing fresh ideas for the gardener in everyone. Well-landscaped front yards are seen all the time, but rarely are invitations given to see how people live private lives in their gardens and backyards.
Susan Wolcott and Bob Cronin quickly agreed to put their newly purchased and renewed property on the tour. Bio-intensive gardens, terraces on Town Run made from tree limbs cleared on the site and meditation areas seem to have sprung from nothing in the last month. Wolcott moved Yarnability from Funkstown and Cronin established his hypnotism practice here in roughly the same period of time.
Tour veteran Mary Stanley noted, "The best thing about organizing this tour is the chance to look into so many backyards. The really hard part is choosing a good mix for the tour. Really interesting places aren't on the tour this year because they just aren't in the area chosen. There is always next year. This year, we are in a part of town that hasn't been covered in several years. Who knows were it will go next year?"
"I thought I knew Shepherdstown pretty well but I have seen many things I had just never noticed before" commented Judith Treeburg as she walked the route testing access for the Visitable Shepherdstown project.
The event is a major fundraiser for the newly renamed Shepherdstown Community Club to support the War Memorial Building and Morgan's Grove Park. It brings people in to see the town, supports the merchants and generates some funds to keep their properties open for public use. In addition, it allows neighbors to meet neighbors.
Bonnie Austin, Shirley Derr and their loyal crews are busy preparing for the tea as people all over Shepherdstown are baking sweets and savories.
Visitors are encouraged to spend some extra time in Shepherdstown possibly even spending the night. Bistro 112 and The Blue Moon are offering specials and live jazz. Many merchants are offering specials and featuring interesting garden related items.
More information and photos of works in progress are available on Facebook "back alley garden" and (see the map on the website for parking and ticket sales locations).
Tickets are $20 for unlimited visits to the gardens over the two days of May 19 and 20. One tea service on either day is included in the price. Tickets are available at the Shepherdstown Sweet Shop, Village Florist, Bistro 112 or at the door the days of the event, all located on German Street.