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Thank you is not enough!

By Staff | May 30, 2014

Shepherdstown rocks! Thanks to all who helped make the 2014 Back Alley Tour and Tea a success on so many levels. First, the Shepherdstown Community Club grossed over $8,000 for the support of the War Memorial Building and Morgan’s Grove Park. This revenue will go a long way to keeping the doors open for th use of those facilities.

Second, the Town had a big party with so many of us getting to know each other. Nothing like having a chance to wander about leisurely on a beautiful weekend peeking in the backyards and species of areas that are otherwise behind closed gates or just not explored pathways.

The Shepherd Cemetery got a lot of attention because the Historical Society and neighbors on New Street seized the opportunity to open the gates and gather support for their new project.

And the happy tourists were a great bonus for the merchants. Jan Hafer and her Visitor Center volunteers were on hand to welcome newcomers, but a special thanks goes to all the locals who stopped to assist or just invited people on the Tour into their own gardens for a bonus viewing.

Lastly, we have the ongoing effect of a spiffed up Town! We cleaned up our gardens, alleys and streets just a bit getting ready for the Tour. Nothing like a deadline! Many thanks to Frank Welch’s Public Works crew and other s who ably assisted.

An event like this doesn’t just happen. Tour organizer, Katherine Bragg-Stella selected the gardens and wrote the commentaries with the assistance of tour organizer emeritus, Mary Stanley. Don Davis was a hug help in guiding the Tour by placing signs and chalk marks for the gardens, walking the route many times to get ir right and measuring the route at exactly 1.7 miles. He assisted many a homeowner along the way as well. Thanks, Don! Morgan Academy art students made the signs for the Tour as Don needed them. A big job, well done.

But the real, special thanks go to the extremely generous homeowners. It takes a special person to say, “Sure you can have 500 people walk through my garden on a May weekend.” That is true town spirit and their generosity is much appreciated.

Just to recognize a few, we note the many, many volunteers who spent many hours creating and maintaining the Town Run garden with its very informative displays of native vegetation.

Beth Rehberger with her intimate Pied a Terre garden, the always popular exquisite green and white garden of Hank Willard and Jack. Terry Swifts’ eclectic Poor House garden, Lori Robertson’s urban organic garden, Liz Wheeler and Carols Niederhauser’s Bus Barn outdoor living space. Judith and Mark Briod’s surprising garden bordering Town Run is always a favorite. Alec Baach’s accessible house enhanced beautifully by plantings well chosen by his mother, Elise Baach, was a hit.

Tina Fraley Palmer created a very personal space for herself and friends. Bob Chronin and Susan Wolcott have so many gardening ideas going on that space. Torny Price and family generously opened their newly acquired garden on Town Run at the historic Brown House. Debbie Hodges welcomed guests to her newly established very French garden behind her ship, D’Accord.

The hidden garden of Joe Matthews and John Shank was a real treat for many visitors and townspeople a,ike who had no idea that such a special place existed. Louise Cos is a fitting neighbor for them with her special “Garden of the Four Sisters” and a separate kitchen garden. Gussie Mills provided so much to talk about with all her plant projects; she is an inspiration to all who like to garden. Lisa and Paul Welch’s expansive garden with the newly established serpentine beds was a beautiful surprise.

Garden docents are an important part of the Tour. They not only greet guests on the Tour but provide garden information, advice, directions and good will. Thanks to the following:Noreen Albright, Steve and Rebecca Ayraud, Kate Bale, Susan Benjamin, Winnie Bernat, Kathy Bilton, Cassie Bosley, Marc and Judith Briod, Helen Burns, Amy Chiildors, Sue Collins, Katherine Coykendall, Don Davis, Carrie Drewry, Julie and Matt Druck, Sonya Evanisko, Kathy Gilbert, Pat Grinnan, Roula Hammer, Shirley Huddleston, Timothy Jacot, Tom Keyrouze, Joan Kimmins, Cris Kinsella, Kerry Krogstatt, Larry Kruym, Kim Lowery, Vireg Martin, Karene Motivans, Bill Neufeld, Becky Phipps, Lillian Potter-Saum, Linda Reynolds, Ed Ringoot, Carolyn rodis, Jill Shatken, Carrie Singer, Fran Skiles, Grant Smith, Dan Smith, Dave and Julie Springer, Meg Spurlin, Mary Stanley, Kathryn Stella, LouAnn Stovall, Jim Surkamp, Sally Thomas, Brother Timothy, Stuart Wallace, Rie Wilson, Annie Wisecarver, Suzy Yates and Pat Yinkey.

The Tea, which drew over 400 attendees, was expertly catered by SCC board member Toni Milbourne. She was ably assisted by the great efforts of other board members, and my very supportive wife, Shirley Huddleston. Rachel Crum made all of the scones. Mark Shields spent two days carefully washing the beautiful tea cups provided by the Shelley A. Marshall Foundation. Stephanie Sheilds kept it all moving smoothly. Other kitchen volunteers were Judith Briod, DiDi Champion, Martha Young, Janet Maple, Susan Walton, Carol Clark, Cindy and Don Reeser. All of them stayed beyond their scheduled times to keep the service moving smoothly.

Our greeters and ticket takers were Jack Young, Howard Wachtel and our long-time friend, Eunice Earle.

The tea and food service was fantastic, fast, efficient and friendly. Thanks to all of our young servers: Samantha Milbourne, Christen Kite, Tamia Ross, Emma Tucker, Carrie Tucker, Anna Tucker, Maggie Milbourne, Amanda Beibel and Jenn Beibel.

Tim Bennett served as a greeter for the Tea, but most importantly, he cleaned up the ballroom after the tea! Beekeeper Mike Austin graciously provided Duchess Honey.

Lastly, the showstopping floral arrangements of all local flowers and foliage were generously created and donated by the Potomac Mecklenburg Garden Club led by Meg Spurlin. The table arrangements were created by Janice Smith. The long, cold gardening season provided special challenges in rounding up enough material, but Meg and her able crew of Shelia Vertino, Rebecca Ayraud and Mary Stanley were up to the challenge. And thanks to all who gave generously from their own gardens to provide the flowers. A sizable sum was collected in donations to benefit the Morgan’s Grove walking path maintenance fund many lucky folks took home a very special memory of the event with those bouquets.

And we must thank our local businesses who generously agreed to advance ticket sales. They are: Pam at the Sweet Shop, Kendra at Four Seasons Books, Tim at the Village Florist and Susan at Yarnability. Board member and treasurer Marit Davis took tickets for both days with help from Elloyd Lockridge.

I do hope I didn’t miss anyone in this cast of semmingly thousands! You are all appreciated for a job very, very well done. See you next year!


Tom Huddleston


Shepherdstown Community Club