If you think there can’t be beautiful, thriving gardens in the middle of city living, think again. Troy has taken urban gardening to a new level and will show off its success during the annual Troy’s Hidden Garden Tour, which saw record attendance last year.
Troy’s Hidden Garden Tour is taking place on May 26th, from 4pm to 7:30pm, rain or shine. This popular tour invites the public into the private gardens of local residents, offering a glimpse into a part of Troy many visitors don’t get a chance to glance at.
“Most people only ever see the facades of our brownstones from the streets,” Peter Grimm, President of the Friends of Prospect Park said in a statement. The Friends of Prospect Park is a volunteer organization which is responsible for the Hidden Garden Tour. Proceeds go towards this group, which is dedicated to preserving Prospect Park for the public.
Some who have taken the tour in the past have actually gone on to then purchase houses in Troy, after they’re able to see the potential of what can be done with the backyards and courtyards – this is truly a testament to how vital this walking tour has been to the economic and residential development of Troy.
The self-guided walking tour includes about 30 backyard gardens in Troy of varying types and produced by gardeners of all different skill levels. Most gardens are about the same size – 20 feet by 30 feet – but the styles can differ greatly. Some are colorful flower gardens, while others have more of a focus on vegetables and plants. Certain gardens include quaint pathways, beautiful fountains, and even fish pools.
Rhe Potenza, owner of the Troy women’s boutique Truly Rhe, is presenting her garden for the first time this year and has been working diligently to get it ready.
“As soon as I bought the house I wanted to be a part of the Hidden Garden Tour,” Potenza said in a statement. “I think the wonderful thing about it is that all the owners of the homes are there. You get to meet them and talk to them.”
Troy garden owner Emily Menn admits the tour satisfies a certain curiosity for her. “I go to see all of my neighbors’ gardens because I’m nosy and I want to see who I should hit up for plants,” she said in a statement.
Menn actually has two gardens she is showcasing in the tour this year on two different properties. When she started her first garden in 2008, she had to work with a patch of dirt and clay, shaded by a large pine tree, with a slew of beer cans buried in the ground from previous owners. Thanks to her revamping the area with good soil, sand, and compost she now has a flourishing flower garden; she also had to cut down the tree.
Menn’s garden is an example of how resourceful Troy homeowners sometimes need to get to make a backyard garden work, but several have adapted quite well and more are continuing to do so.
“A lot of the gardens here are dry and in the shade – because of overhead trees or surrounding buildings,” Menn said in a statement. “That’s hard to work with because there are only a limited number of plants that will grow there. So you get to see people’s creativity in action in city gardens. And that’s also why you see potted plants that can be moved around.”
In addition to potted plants, some gardens opt for raised beds when they’re unsure of what’s in the soil; this is particularly important with vegetable gardens, when homeowners are going to be actually consuming what they’re growing. Menn had discovered bricks and stones when she started digging into her ground.
Despite the challenges of city gardening, many are finding ways to create amazing, aesthetically pleasing spaces of flowers, vegetables, herbs, and more. With the walking tour, other area residents are motivated to start their own gardens, often right in Troy.
“Each garden featured on the Garden Tour was carefully tended and beautifully manicured – a tribute to their owners. Visitors can get great ideas for what can be done with a small growing space,” Bette DiNovo told the Times Union after attending last year’s tour.
“This is a special kind of event that invites visitors into the hidden, green spaces of our city. It really showcases the humanity and livability of Troy,” Grimm said in a statement.
Tickets for the event are only $10, and are available in advance online. Interested parties can also purchase tickets the day of the event at the check-in table at the Russell Sage College Parking lot, where free parking for the tour will be available.
- Times Union: Letter: Troy garden tour worth the time