July 19 was warm and sunny for Boothbay Region Garden Club's 2019 House and Garden Tour, "The Sea Around Us." People gathering to board buses were full of anticipation and were not disappointed. The featured properties, split between Boothbay Harbor and Southport, provided a great variety of inspiring gardens and distinctively decorated homes.
Co-chairs Irene Gerny and Pat McMurry have masterfully crafted the tours for eight years. Their goal each year is to offer an amazing tour with thoughtful details. For instance, only entrances with hand rails are acceptable and volunteers are stationed wherever needed, such as boarding or disembarking shuttle buses, greeting people inside and outside an entrance, or help in crossing roads or putting on booties to protect floors.
This year, school buses were used entirely to transport people from either the high school parking lot or the parking lot of the Methodist Church in Southport to properties on heavily traveled, tight roads. BRGC awards four $3,000 scholarships each year to graduating students of Boothbay Region High School. BRGC also gives $5,000 to the YMCA for anonymous summer "campership” awards to youngsters for help with tuition for Camp Knickerbocker.
Many exquisite floral arrangements created by talented members of BRGC were placed in pleasing locations at each property to enhance the experience. The tour is rain or shine and so far, according to McMurry, the club has been pretty lucky. “About four years ago there was just a light rain in the morning that cleared up by early afternoon."
One member makes hundreds of cookies as a treat for the tour-goers. Gerny said. "We found her at a plant sale and persuaded her to join our club. She puts the cookies in little bags to hand out that include a thank you note for taking the tour."
An informal survey of those passing through showed most were local or at least seasonal. A few were from towns further afield. Almost everyone said they do the tour every year.
Pat Hall from Shelburne, Vermont was there with her brother from Belgrade. When asked what she thought of the tour, she said, "It makes me think I ought to go home and get busy!"
Linda Pelletier from Lewiston said, "It's a great opportunity to see the coast when you live inland." She and her daughter thought using buses was the best thing to do so no one has to jockey their cars around.
Karen Molvan from Southport was there with five friends from all over. They have taken the tour together each year as long as she can remember.
Diane Dugas lives in East Boothbay in the summer and Connecticut in the winter. The tour-goer observed, "It is stunning to see how the water and the flowers complement each other. The sea breezes seem to help the plants thrive better than in other places. My husband and I hope to retire here some day because it is such a beautiful place to be."
To join or volunteer for the club, contact Sandy Abernathy at 633-0392.