Secret Gardens of Cambridge Tour Sunday

Secret Gardens of Cambridge Tour Sunday

Photo: This garden will be part of the Secret Gardens of Cambridge tour, coming up on Sunday. A bumblebee stopped in early to check out the foxglove (Digitalis purpurea).

Many of the people who will take this week-end’s Secret Gardens of Cambridge tour discovered the joys of the garden as kids, when they found Frances Hodgson Burnett’s 1911 classic, The Secret Garden, in the children's room at the library. (See illustration at the bottom of the page.) This year's tour, a biennial benefit for the Cambridge Public Library, is Sunday, June 10, from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Bright weather is forecast.

IMG_4726“It’s going to be great,” organizer Bruce Mays says. “Eighteen of the gardens are absolutely new to the tour, and there are a number of others that haven’t been on it for years.”

“This tour also has four ‘open secret’ gardens,” he adds. “They are right along the street, not behind fences.” Photos from a couple of them are included here; their whereabouts will be revealed for the tour, but until then, of course, it’s a secret.

Cambridge's secret gardens are located all across the city, from Strawberry Hill to Cambridgeport. Mays tried to group them near each other, “so people can see several fairly close together without a lot of driving,” he says.

Photo: One of the four "open secret" gardens on the tour is a sea of white daisies with spikes of blue lupine and clumps of red and pink Sweet William.

The weather has been a challenge this year. An early hot spell brought some plantings into bloom a couple of weeks early; others were delayed by the recent cold spell.

“One of the gardens on the tour has beautiful lupine; I hope it holds up,” Mays said.

The tours were started in 2000 by Frances Tenenbaum, a garden book editor for Houghton Mifflin. In 2004 she and fellow Cambridge library supporter Susan Savoca Twarog produced a book, “The Secret Gardens of Cambridge,” about the event.

The city is rich in special gardens, according to Bruce Mays. “You could actually make a whole tour just on Brattle Street.”

401px-The_Secret_Garden_book_cover_-_Project_Gutenberg_eText_17396According to the library announcement of the tour, anyone with a ticket can visit the gardens listed. They range from back-yard cottage gardens to lavish landscapes. Tickets are available at library branches and at Bonny’s Garden Center, Dickson Brothers Hardware, Harvard Book Store, Nomad, Pemberton Farms, Porter Square Books and Rodney’s Bookstore. Tickets for the general public are $25; members of the Friends of the Cambridge Public Library can purchase discounted tickets for $20 at the main library. Note: tickets are available at the libraries through Saturday; libraries are closed on Sunday.

Photo: “There was every joy on earth in the secret garden that morning . . .” From Chapter XV of The Secret Garden, Frances Hodgson Burnett’s children’s story published in 1911.  Illustration by M. B. Kork, courtesy of Project Gutenberg, is from the first edition. The catalog of the Minuteman Library Network lists one copy of this edition; it's in the Children’s Room of the Framingham library.

For more information call the library Q&A Desk at 617-349-4041 or send an email via the form on the library's "About Us" page at