GNH Lumber-Outdoor Living-JUNE 2024

The secret gardens of Coeymans revealed


By Melanie Lekocevic

Capital Region Independent Media

Visitors on the first-ever Secret Gardens of Coeymans Tour check out one of the local gardens. Contributed photo

COEYMANS — What lies behind the fences and tall walls of your neighbors? Area residents had the chance to find out during the first-ever Secret Gardens of Coeymans Tour — and many were delighted at what they found.

Eleven gardeners opened up their gardens to the community to check out their landscaping, talk about their plantings and maybe offer a few words of advice on building your own special corner in nature.

The Secret Gardens of Coeymans Tour, held June 22, was the next step in the months’ long celebration of the town of Coeymans’ 350th anniversary, which has also included a Cinco de Mayo comedy show, beverage trail, historical talks and, of course, the concerts, festivities, fireworks and parade on the weekend of June 9 and 10.

For the gardens tour, participants purchased tickets and maps at Sycamore Country Club, then traveled from garden to garden, checking out the sights, and it brought everyone together, said Joan Radley, co-organizer of the event and a member of the Town of Coeymans 350th Anniversary Committee.

“We really saw the community come together,” Radley said. “We saw neighbors talking to neighbors that they hadn’t seen in a while because of the pandemic.”

The event also let people meet and make new friends, said co-organizer Carol McDonald, who also serves on the anniversary committee.

“People that didn’t know each other got to know each other because they share a common bond — a love of gardening — and who doesn’t love flowers?” McDonald said. “Opening up and talking about a neutral topic like gardening is important for our community. This group of gardeners had never really met each other and we have some new members of our community who have moved in, and it proved to be a really positive experience.”

One of the colorful gardens on the tour. Contributed photo

Radley and McDonald — nicknamed “The Flower Ladies” by the anniversary committee members — have worked on beautification projects revolving around gardening in the past. Last year they tried to get community members to beautify the areas around their mailboxes, so when the opportunity arose to bring the joy of gardening to the community, they jumped at it.

“We thought that showing each other our gardens and the beauty that we have within our community would expand our gardeners and perhaps entice a couple of new folks to try gardening,” McDonald said.

The Secret Gardens of Coeymans Tour included 11 gardens from Coeymans to Ravena.

“We probably could have added a bunch more, but we would have needed a whole weekend instead of just one evening to do all the gardens,” McDonald said. “Some of the gardens were very expansive and there was a lot to see, a lot of questions to be asked, and they featured so many things that it was tough to get through all 11 gardens unless you were really regimented.”

The night before the tour, all of the participating gardeners got together to talk about how the event would be handled, and afterwards they traveled to each other’s gardens to check them out.

“We were doing the last one by flashlight,” McDonald said with a laugh. “There is just such a wonderful energy, a sharing of ideas, a sharing of plants in the fall when everybody is doing their dividing, so it was really a great experience.”

A garden brightening its community. Contributed photo

Some of the gardens were eye popping and creative, Radley said.

“So often people just drive by doing their daily chores and they don’t notice, but I think we really brought this out to them — that this is a place of beauty and we should appreciate it,” Radley said. “These gardens are works of art.”

The style of gardens on the tour ran the gamut, from vegetable, container and shade gardens to tropical, water and, of course, flower gardens.

“We saw some very professional gardens, very artistic gardens, and everything in between,” Radley said. “The stonework was exquisite. Many were framed in the majestic landscape this area offers.”

Radley and McDonald said the entire community came together to make the garden tour possible and expressed their gratitude to the Coeymans Hollow Fire Department, Sycamore Country Club, the Coeymans 350th Anniversary Planning Committee, Joseph Boehlke of the Ravena Coeymans Historical Society, and the gardeners and everyone who attended the event.

Here are more images of gardens on the tour:

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