KINGSTOON – Rhode Island’s best summer road trip kicks off this weekend as 18 private and public gardens tended by volunteer Rhode Island University master gardeners open their doors to welcome the public for its 11th edition Master Gardener Tours, a bi-annual event.
Tours at your own pace share vegetable and herb gardens, pollinator and rain gardens, unique hardscape and native plants in all their glory.
This year’s tour will feature 11 private gardens and seven public gardens, each in its own unique way and all showcasing the many environmentally friendly gardening practices promoted through the URI Master Gardener program.
Local gardens will include Green Hill Pond Coastal Gardens, Kettle Pond Native Plant Gardens and Charlestown Schoolhouse Gardens in Charlestown, as well as growing gardens in Richmond.
All gardens will be open daily, rain or shine, from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. This is Rhode Island’s only statewide garden tour. URI Master Gardeners will be at all gardens to greet visitors, ready to answer questions and share science-based gardening information on best gardening practices.
Foster residents Kathy Jenal and Larry Brown, who will open their sprawling property to visitors this year, said: “We volunteer to share our gardens because plants are our fascination where we know other people are fascinated by them, too.”
Kate Venturini Hardesty of URI Cooperative Extension said the public garden was added to this year’s tour to raise its profile and serve as a destination for those interested in learning more about sustainable gardening land. Public gardens opening this year are: Hope Hill Farm, Bristol; Good Gardens at Norman Bird Sanctuary, Middletown; Roger Williams Park Produce Donation Gardens, Providence; Kettle Pool Native Plants Gardens, Charlestown; Charlestown Campus Gardens, Charlestown; and URI Campus Gardens, Kingston. These public gardens are tended by URI Master Gardeners; most also produce hundreds of pounds of food each year for local food banks.
Venturini Hardesty said: “The public gardens on tour this year are remarkable for different reasons and we want people to visit them and learn from our volunteer URI Master Gardeners who tend them and who are there to teach others Know what they’re doing!”
The manageable size of Rhode Island allows participants to easily visit East Greenwich, Warwick, Providence, Newport, Little Compton, Gloucester, Foster, Charlestown, South Kings Many open private gardens in London and Richmond. Visitors can explore coastal gardens, small space oases, secret gardens, a monarch butterfly habitat, a seaside Japanese garden and a revived 18th century farm. The university also opens its gardens to visitors. URI is proud to have a botanical collection of almost 6 acres on its Kingston campus.
Garden tours are hosted by URI Cooperative Extension’s Master Gardener Program, which educates citizens in scientific gardening. After a 14-week training program and 50 hours of internship, more than 800 active volunteers in Rhode Island graduate to become grassroots educators across the state.
Tour tickets are $30 and include admission to all gardens for two tour weekends. Children under 18 enter free.to know more information web.uri.edu/mastergardener/tour.
Proceeds from the tour will go toward educational services offered through URI’s Master Gardener Program, including a gardening and environmental hotline at 401-874-4836, free soil pH testing services and public speaking.
– Sun staff