Summer In Bloom! Seacoast Garden Tours 2015

Is there a more pleasant way to spend a summer afternoon than strolling through a lovely garden? This year, you can enjoy several distinctive garden tours, right here on the Seacoast.

NBYPT GardenTour HouseLilacs

Newburyport Garden Tour: June 13 & 14, 2015

The Newburyport Garden Tour, presented by the Museum of Old Newbury, celebrates 36 years in 2015, and this tour promises to be especially lovely. Held June 13 and 14 from 10:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m., the self-guided tour, “Visions of Paradise,” features 10 private gardens in Newburyport and Newbury. Museum of Old Newbury Executive Director Susan Edwards describes the tour as offering “a glimpse into some of the finest private gardens in the area; they are botanical works of art.” As a special treat, the museum’s Historical Society's Cushing House garden will also be on the tour. Well-known garden historian and designer Lucinda Brockway, who revitalized historic gardens at Strawbery Banke in Portsmouth, New Hampshire, and at other historic sites throughout New England, also restored this garden. In addition, the first floor of the Cushing House will be open for tours, and a plant sale will take place both days at the house.

The Newburyport Garden Tour will be held rain or shine and starts at the Cushing House. Tickets are $20 if purchased before June 1, and $25 after that date. Tickets are available at the Historical Society of Old Newbury, 98 High Street, Newburyport, Massachusetts, and at the Newburyport Chamber of Commerce, 38R Merrimac Street. Tickets may also be purchased online at Call 978 462-2681 for more information.

NewCastle Garden PennyPhotographed by Penny O'Sullivan

New Castle, NH Garden Tour: June 14, 2015

The New Castle Garden Tour frequently features spectacular ocean views as well as excellent gardens. The tour is held rain or shine, and most of it takes place in New Castle Village, making it easy to get around. Many homes in the village date from the 1700s, with most built right near the water. Gardeners will not only see many mature trees and shrubs but also have a unique opportunity to explore the island. New Castle has limited public access, so this is a great chance to see more of what makes New Castle special. The tour typically features many rock gardens because of the island's natural abundance of ledge, as well as extensive use of natural plantings, which can withstand the salt air and sea spray of the island's climate.

The self-guided walking tour benefits Pontine Theatre and will be held June 14, 2015 from 1 p.m. to 3 p.m. Tickets are $15 in advance and $20 the day of the event. Tickets may be purchased online at or on the day of in the parking lot at the Coast Guard Station off of Route 1B. Parking is at the Coast Guard Station on Route 1B.


The Pocket Garden Tour of Portsmouth: June 19 & 20, 2015

Tucked away behind fences and shrubbery, or down out-of-the-way side streets are some of Portsmouth's secret gardens. The average passerby would never know that behind a fence a gardener has worked a small miracle of greenery and color. For while space may be at a premium, imagination is not, and where a gardener has vision and the will to create, all things are possible.

South Church will showcase these unique urban gardens for the 26th time in its Pocket Gardens of Portsmouth Tour, which benefits the church. The tour will be held June 19, from 5 p.m. to 8 p.m., and June 20, from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. This year, 12 gardens are featured and the tour covers about two to three miles, starting with the church’s own lovely garden and then meandering through the South End. It is perfect for walking or biking as all of the gardens are in the same vicinity.

The tour started in 1989 as a way to raise funds to maintain the South Church building and revive the church's own pocket garden. From there, it branched out to celebrate the diversity of Portsmouth. The gardens may feature live music, artists painting, fairy houses being built, glimpses of historic gardens, ancient trees and shrubs, or unusual plants.

As one regular tour goer said, “The tour lets you meet people you might not usually meet, while enjoying a wonderful reminder that gardens can flourish anywhere.”

Tickets for this year's tour can be purchased online through the Portsmouth Pocket Garden Facebook page or South Church website, Tickets are $20 in advance and $25 the weekend of the event. For more information, phone 603 436-4762.

CeliaThaxter EricaAndersonPhotographed by Erica Anderson

Celia Thaxter’s Garden: Appledore Island

The daughter of a lighthouse keeper, Celia Thaxter was raised on White Island, part of the storied Isles of Shoals off of Kittery, Maine. Her father later built the acclaimed Appledore Hotel on nearby Appledore Island, which became one of New England’s first resorts. After her marriage, Celia helped run the hotel, which was a destination for poets, painters and writers, who were drawn by the amazing light and stunning beauty of the islands. She herself later became a poet and author, and one of her most famous works is her last book - “An Island Garden.” This book details her creation of and love affair with her carefully crafted plot, and her observations as it changed with the seasons. Ultimately, her garden in its glorious setting has become perhaps her most lasting legacy. Hundreds flock to the Shoals each summer to see it in its glory and recapture a bit of Thaxter’s island life.

All tours of Celia Thaxter’s garden require advance reservations. Appledore Island is accessible only by boat, and garden tours are coordinated through the Shoals Marine Laboratory. The Shoals Marine Lab operates a boat tour which departs from the New Castle, New Hampshire, Coast Guard Station, off of Route 1B, several times per summer. The R/V Gulf Challenger only has spots for 33 guests, so reservations are mandatory. Departure is at 9:00 a.m. from the UNH Judd Gregg Marine Research Complex adjacent to the Coast Guard Station, but guests must arrive by 8:30 a.m. Seating is limited so guests must be able to stand for the 45 minute trip to the island if necessary. The tour involves a great deal of walking so visitors should wear comfortable, sturdy shoes and be physically fit. The trip cost is $100 per person, which includes the boat ride out and back, and a buffet lunch, plus the island tour. The boat departs Appledore at 2:45 p.m. and returns to New Castle at approximately 4:00 p.m.

The 2015 trip dates are: June 19th, June 26th, July 7th, July 26th, July 30th, August 7th and August 8th. Guests will receive confirmation of their reservations one week before the trip. Reservations can be made online at on the Celia Thaxter’s Garden page.

For more information, email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

FullerGarden Courtesy

Fuller Gardens Garden Party, North Hampton, NH

Fuller Gardens will hold its annual garden party on July 8, 2015 from 5p.m. to 8 p.m. Fuller Gardens is a turn-of-the-century estate garden complex, featuring a lovely rose garden, English perennial plantings, a Japanese garden, and tropical greenhouses. The annual garden party offers tempting hors d’oeuvres by the Take Away Cafe, a cheese tasting by C’est Cheese, and live jazz music by the Greg Brown Trio. Guests can also watch local artists at work in the gardens as they wield brush and pencil to capture beauty in bloom. Tickets are $25.00. In the event of rain, the party will be held on July 9. For more information, visit

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