Looking through gardening magazines for ideas is fine, but for most gardeners there’s nothing more inspiring than seeing the actual fruit of another person’s labor.

That’s why garden tours — where garden clubs or other groups open private landscapes to the public — are so popular in garden-crazy Maine.

Not to mention that they’re great fundraisers for the groups that organize them.

Garden tour season is upon us, and some of the tours scheduled for southern and coastal Maine so far include opportunities to peer into a lot of different types of gardens.

“Gardeners always like to see what’s going in other people’s gardens, to get inspired,” said Mary Roy, an organizer of the Hidden Gardens of Munjoy Hill self-guided tour, scheduled for July 11 in Portland.

In the case of the Munjoy Hill tour, people will get to visit 11 gardens in one of Maine’s more urban neighborhoods. It’s a good chance to see what sort of creative gardening people can do when their space is small or when their sun is blocked by apartment buildings.

It’s also a chance to visit Munjoy Hill, with its wonderful views of Casco Bay on the city’s eastern end.

“We’ve heard so many comments from people who have taken the tour over the years who say they never knew Munjoy Hill was so beautiful,” Roy said.

The tour will help make it more beautiful, and an even nicer place to live. Money raised on the tour by Friends of the Eastern Prom will go toward community projects such as improvements to the local schools or public areas. Tickets are $15 in advance and $20 the day of the tour.

A big part of gardening in Maine, of course, is growing food, and participants in the June 13 Gourmet Garden Crawl in Standish will get to eat some of the results. The tour begins at Rippling Waters Organic Farm and continues via bus to three of its school garden sites: the Bonny Eagle Middle School greenhouse, Edna Libby’s raised bed, and the in-ground garden at George E. Jack Elementary School.

Gourmet chefs will prepare food from local ingredients at each site. Participants can eat a progressive feast made by Jeff Landry of the Farmers Table, Joshua Mather of Joshua’s, and Earl Morse of Portland Harbor Hotel, with desserts and live jazz music back at the farm. It’s $45 for adults, $10 for ages 12 to 18, and free for children under 12.

If the idea of trying to tour several gardens in one day seems a bit much, you might look into the Belfast Garden Club’s Open Garden Days.

Visitors can see a different garden in the Belfast area each Friday through Sept. 10, for $4 a garden.

The varied garden types will include English-style formal, butterfly, Zen, the Troy Howard Middle School’s garden project and the New Forest Institute’s “edible forest.”

The open garden scheduled for this Friday is at a home in Orland and includes unusual bulbs, a garden shed full of antique gardening tools, garden sculpture, a pool, roses and lupines. There will also be garden photography and garden objects for sale, plus the family’s collection of antique cars will be on display.

“It’s not as overwhelming as trying to see all the gardens on the tour in a few hours,” said Annadeene Fowler, an organizer of the event. “This way, it’s a fun thing to do all summer long.”

The club prints detailed descriptions of each week’s garden on its website, www.belfastgardenclub.org.

If you want to see gardens in an historic setting — and in a different state, no less — you might want to travel an hour south of Portland on June 13 to the Pontine Theatre’s annual New Castle Village Walk and Garden Tour in New Castle, N.H.

There will be eight gardens open in this quaint, Colonial-era village on the ocean south of Portsmouth.

But whatever garden tour you pick, be sure to bring a notebook.

“These tours are just a great way to get ideas, even if you never use them in your own garden,” said Solange Kellerman, who is helping organize the Munjoy Hill tour.

“And the people who did the gardens are there, so you can ask lots of questions.”

Staff Writer Ray Routhier can be contacted at 791-6454 or at:

[email protected]


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