Sunday, June 19, 2011

Explore: South End Garden Tour

A few weeks ago one of the restaurants I follow on Twitter, 28 Degrees, tweeted about the upcoming South End Garden Tour. I love the South End and I've always enjoyed admiring other people's beautiful homes and gardens, so I clicked. After a quick exploration of the event's website, I was convinced I had to experience this.

All week leading up to the tour the weather forecast for Saturday June 18th was for rain and thunderstorms. When I woke up yesterday morning the sun was shining and I couldn't have been more thrilled!

With friend in tow, I arrived at the welcome tent for the tour, which was directly outside of the Boston Center for the Arts on Tremont Street. There was a large crowd purchasing tickets and making their plan of attack.

One ticket is $25 dollars and gives you access to all 25 stops on the tour, which includes private homes as well as public gardens in the neighborhood. We were given a guide with a map, descriptions of each location and a ticket that would be checked off by a volunteer at each location we visited. You know how much I love crossing things off lists!

We decided to go in the recommended order and I fell in love at the very first house we visited! At 40A Montgomery Street we walked down stairs toward the back patio that were lined with potted plants.

Once inside the patio gate we immediately noticed the hot tub which was on, and had plants on little flower shaped rafts circling the hot tub!

I also loved this cherry red, wooden bench nestled amongst the greenery.

There were beautiful pink flowers planted just in front of the iron window gates.

At this first stop there was also an artist on site. At almost every stop on the tour, a local Boston artist was asked to paint there for the day. At the closing reception at the end of the tour, the artists would be selling their work. A very cool addition to the event!

Every stop was marked with a number, a flag and if there was an artist on site, a paint brush to indicate that. The flags were especially helpful as we navigated from street to street!

The next stop on the tour was Montgomery Park which is privately owned by the home owners whose residences border the park. This is a space I would never have known about and it was absolutely stunning.

If you wanted a living memento from the tour, the volunteers were selling plants in Montgomery Park!

Stop number five on the tour was Dartmouth Square Park. This garden was surrounded by a detailed, iron fence and was centered around a tiered fountain.

There were two artists painting in this location, both supremely talented.

There were two, hunter green patio chairs placed in the park for use by the tour guests. Look at this cute note:

Stop number six was actually the private garden of one of the homes off of Dartmouth Square Park. The residents set a table on the patio that was beautiful. It looked just like something out of the Crate & Barrel catalog! They were also growing herbs in potted along a designated wall, which was a lovely and creative design idea.

Stop number eight was a private home at 114 Appleton Street. We descended a narrow, dark green spiral staircase to land in a serene garden. There were flowers growing out of the stone wall at the back of the garden and a tremendous tree shooting up from the center of the garden to create natural shade for the whole space.

As we walked from stop eight to stop nine, we couldn't help but notice this sign. A stern message in friendly font.

Stop number nine was a whimsical garden at 103 Warren Ave. Their patio table was set just like the tea party in Alice in Wonderland.

The owners are growing brightly colored flowers.

In addition to the garden level, up a spiral staircase is a deck that appeared to be the perfect urban oasis.

Stop number ten was another private home, this time at 24 Clarendon Street. This garden was the most packed! The owners have beautiful plants, flowers and vegetables. There garden not only houses greenery, but they have decorated with a substantial amount of art.

The also provided food and drink for their guests.

Stop eleven, which was one of my favorites, was a community garden at the corner of Warren and Clarendon streets. This garden had some of the most brilliant flowers of the day.

Stop number twelve was a positively incredible experience. Thanks to the tour, we were able to enjoy the view from the three roof decks at 72-78 Warren Ave. The owners were very cute and labeled which decks were which.

On the first deck I was immediately struck by the expansive view of the city.

I also fell in love with the umbrella the owners have over their two lounge chairs.

This deck also had potted plants the owners were working to have climb the wall. You can barely see it in this photo, but they have wires along the wall encouraging the plants to grow upward.

On the door to the second deck, the owners put a map of what flowers they are growing.

The third and final deck is home to most of the potted plants and vegetables. I love this set of white furniture.

Stop number thirteen was the Gray Street alley gardens. I had a friend who lived on Gray Street and though I visited him a few times, I never knew there was this beautiful garden out back! All of the residents that face the alley are working together to maintain it.

We had some onlookers as we explored the alley. Hello, kitty cats!

Stop number eighteen was 51 Clarendon Street where the homeowners have done a tremendous job creating an urban sanctuary. I had a hard time taking in all the plants because I was distracted by the gorgeous flower arrangement on the patio table!

Stop number nineteen was a garden at the end of a dead end street, Cazenove Street. While visiting this garden, we met it's primary caretaker, Alan Goostray. He told us he maintains the garden with support from his neighbors.

I love all the wind chimes he hanging from the trees.

My sincere apologies to this home owner, as I can't recall what number he/she was on the tour! However, I can say I was in love with the garden and the mixture of greenery and art!

Stop number twenty one was highlighted to us by one of the volunteers as a "must see" in a group of stops along Casenove Street. The clean and modern design of this garden was the most subtle we saw.

Before arriving at the final two stops on the tour, we noticed this classic Jaguar parked right outside the entrance to the final two gardens. How cool!

The second to last garden (stop twenty four) was one of my favorites. The owner's dog watched over us as we explored her outdoor space.

These blue pillow cushions looked so comfortable I had to remind myself I was in someone else's home and refrain from sinking right down into them.

As we exited the final garden I noticed this bicycle parked up against a tall plant, that looked like it was a growing part of the landscape. It seemed a perfect representation of the day, that you can achieve a balance between city living and peaceful serenity.

I have lived in Boston my entire life and this was easily one of the most wonderful experiences I have ever had in my 26 years of exploring this city. Thank you to the South End Garden tour organizers, the friendly and knowledgeable volunteers, and most of all, to the homeowners who allowed us to share in the beauty they've created. I cannot wait to attend again next year!

If you made it to the bottom of this post, bravo! It is easily the longest post in Pop.Bop.Shop. history. I didn't have the heart to cut anything out.


  1. This looks amazing! I will have to check it out next year.

  2. Wow, what a great post! I'm very happy to find your blog, but sorry I missed this garden tour. Makes me wish I lived in the South End; no one shares their alley gardens with their neighbors in Back Bay! And i'm craving a garden!


Related Posts with Thumbnails