The tour opens up the beauty hidden in Franklin Gardens
Behind the palisades and nestled in the backyards, waves of color and lush vegetation await to be discovered.
Pink, purple, yellow and red flower beds decorate the owners’ outdoor getaways. Bedding plants and hostas provide fresh green cover. The tinkle of a well-placed fountain or birdbath enhances the relaxing aura.
And later in July, these private spaces will be open to the public.
The hidden horticultural gems of downtown Franklin will open to the public during the Garden’s First Secret Walk. The self-guided tour, scheduled for July 17-18, features nearly 20 houses and their colorful and carefully planned gardens. Artists and musicians will perform in some sites, master gardeners may be present to answer questions, and other surprises are planned throughout the tour.
With many people doing “pandemic projects” over the past year, the tour will be an opportunity for people to show off their hard work.
“During the pandemic, when people were at home, we saw a lot more people outside, working in gardens or adding flowers and doing that sort of thing,” said Rob Shilts, executive director of Franklin Heritage, which organizes the event. “There was something to distract us from what was going on, to get our hands dirty and plant something that will turn out beautiful.”
Plus, by exploring the flowers, shrubs and trees that others have planted, the organizers hope that people themselves get a little insight into gardening and inspiration.
“In a lot of these gardens there is a little bit of magic,” said Shilts. “It’s a great way to bring people together, on people’s porches and in the garden, to talk about what they’ve planted and what they’ve done. We want people to be encouraging.
Like most new events and ideas this year, the Secret Garden Walk was inspired by improvisations made during the pandemic, he said. Franklin Heritage was planning to hold its semi-annual home tour in 2020, but that proved impossible with so prevalent COVID-19.
Brainstorming sessions focused on what could be done outdoors.
“A lot of our friends are gardeners, so we thought, why not take a tour of the garden,” Shilts said.
The walk will be similar to home visits, focusing on outdoor spaces rather than people’s interiors. Such tours are a staple of garden clubs everywhere, but when checking out Franklin Heritage found that no local group was doing them. They didn’t want to interfere or step on another group’s plans, he said.
Franklin Heritage contacted the owners of the historic neighborhoods in downtown Franklin, initially by simply walking around and chatting with people in their backyards. Seeing so many innovative and beautiful green spaces reinforced the idea that a garden tour would be popular.
The owners were also excited about the potential. Nearly 20 people have registered to open their gardens.
“What we found was that people were really excited that we saw their work as something that others would want to see,” said Shilts. “It’s very individualized in terms of what people like, what plants they like. Everyone does it differently which makes it special.
What makes this event unique is the effect of surprise that surrounds it. All participating gardens will remain secret until the start of the visit. It is only after the participants meet at the Artcraft Theater on the day of the march that people will know which houses are participating, he said.
Signs were printed directing people to participating homes. But no one will really know what to expect until they get there, Shilts said.
“That’s part of its charm. Otherwise, you could just go take a look in someone’s backyard. There is the element of surprise, ”he said.
The event coincides with Artcraft’s screening of “The Secret Garden”, the 1993 film based on the beloved novel by Frances Hodgson Burnett. The themes of the film align well with the intention of the walk, said Shilts.
“From there came some inspiration on how you help other people, and how you encourage and inspire and do this stuff,” he said. “It’s something we need more everywhere, to encourage others and tell them what a good job they’re doing, whether it’s in their backyard or their house or whatever. “
Additionally, Madison Street Salvage, which is operated by Franklin Heritage, will be open during the Garden Walk for people to stop and shop for salvaged architectural items. Lickity Slick Snowball Shack will be installed up front to provide fresh treats on a hot July day.
“The whole weekend is a chance to see the colors, to be outside and to see the unique ideas of others,” said Shilts.
If you are going to
Walk in the secret garden
What: A tour of some of the most lush and colorful gardens in downtown Franklin. The locations of the houses participating in the tour will remain secret until the day of the event.
When: 10 am-5pm July 17 and 12 pm-5pm July 18
Where: Downtown Franklin. Maps and information will be provided at the Historic Artcraft Theater, 57 N. Main St.
Who: Franklin Heritage Inc., a local preservation group
Cost: $ 15; $ 10 for Franklin Heritage members. Tickets are good for both days, and the event is rain or shine.