Virtual Garden Tours – My Summer Project

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My local informal gardening group WAS going to put on a garden tour, so when that couldn’t I began experimenting with virtual tours – online but with the option that local viewers could see many of the gardens in person on their own time. For some reason I promised THREE virtual tours – for spring, summer and fall.

For the Virtual Spring Garden Tour I solicited garden photos and when they were all put together it was clear that the fabulousness of many of the gardens was lost. But I love garden videos – I created a whole nonprofit website to curate them – so I decided that our Summer Tour would be video-only!

Personally, I’d made only a few videos in my lifetime so was thrilled by the offer by Greenbelt Access TV to make them, with my nontechnical help. Perfect.

Melissa’s Garden

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Melissa Mackey’s garden is a good example of a garden that can’t be captured in photos alone. You need to walk through the narrow side-yard path into the lush, serene, very private garden of a wildlife-loving, life-long gardener and plant-collector. All that behind a townhouse.

Phoebe McFarb, Greenbelt Access TV Station Manager

For this garden I made a few video clips, recorded a narrative about the garden that Melissa had written, and sent it all to Phoebe McFarb at the station to put it all together. It was super-easy for me and Melissa, too.

 

Melissa in her garden.

Melissa Mackey grew up on a farm in Southern Maryland and has been gardening around her home in Old Greenbelt since 1989. She also enjoys growing vegetables in a Greenbelt Garden Club community garden plot. She is currently President of the Beltsville Garden Club and Secretary of the Greenbelt Community Garden Club. She appreciates the generosity of fellow volunteers and gardeners, from whom she’s learned so much.

 

10 Streetside Gardens

Like no doubt lots of you, I’ve been walking a lot since the shutdown, and one route in particular had become my favorite – along Lakeside Drive, very close to my house. Speed-walkers like me appreciate its smooth asphalt surface without the tripping hazards along old sidewalks, and there are almost no cars or other pedestrians.

What it DOES have are dozens of real gardeners who garden in the front yard for the enjoyment of all. (Thank you again to everyone who gardens where the public can benefit from them!)

For this video, Phoebe did all the filming, with me pointing out the 10 gardens and any focal points she might zoom in on. Then I narrated design ideas that I thought people could glean from these gardens – not just by watching the video but by seeing those front yards in person. The target audience was primarily local.

Phoebe told me she loved filming plants but this was her first time filming a whole garden, and she was excited about the project. Best of all, this is the street she grew up on, her parents still live there, and one of the gardens on the tour was the home of her best friend during childhoods. So it was a great fit between subject and filmmaker! It was fun working with her.

Amethyst’s Garden

I’ve mentioned my friend Amethyst Dwyer before as my color therapy coach, and you can see why from her truly joyful sunny front garden.

Amethyst

Amethyst and husband Dorian Winterfeld bought their townhouse 21 years ago, after living next door to it, admiring its gardens and interior renovations, and buying it as soon as it went on the market. The garden’s established plantings, pond and amenities had been installed back in 1982 by a previous owner who was a landscape designer. The designer had smartly focused on privacy and screening – in the front garden with small trees and shrubs along the sidewalk and in the back, with extensive privacy screens.

The couple enjoyed their gardens without becoming gardeners until two years ago when Amethyst got the gardening bug – big-time! And this year during the pandemic shutdown, she’s upped her game by growing not just exotic flowering plants but edibles, too. In pots, no less. And adding shade plants to the cool Meditation Garden out back.

Garden of Amethyst Dwyer in Greenbelt, Md.

So I asked Amethyst to record some videos of her garden and she delivered, sending me three video clips with her own narration and included cameos by a cute dog and cheering husband. I cobbled them together using a new video editing program I’m learning –  Movavi. It’s cheap, easy to use, and reasonably comprehensive.

Amethyst is one of several freshly minted gardeners in my neighborhood. Hearing them espouse the joys of gardening is my new favorite thing.

Next Up

Changing things up again, for the final three summer tours I’m doing the filming and editing myself, but with lots of input from the gardeners themselves. I’ll post the results here soon.

9 COMMENTS

  1. Loved watching these. It’s so great to see gardens made by ordinary people, working with modestly sized spaces and average budgets — but with outsize enthusiasm.

    That cascade of Caladiums by your friend Amethyst was amazing. I can’t believe she’s only been gardening 2 years. I also liked her joke about planting the Chinese seeds.

    Thanks for the inspiration!

  2. Oh, this was SO much fun! Phoebe did a fantastic job. Thank you, Phoebe, and thank you Susan for pointing things out to her.

    I laughed hard when Amethyst Dwyer said something like (in her first video) “And this is what came up when I planted those mysterious seeds that came in the mail from China.” Ha-Ha! Amethyst’s garden is truly beautiful. Bravo ladies!

  3. Very nice! Thank you! Garden tours are such fun, so many ideas! My favorite is Amethyst Dwyer’s gardens! So beautiful!
    Thanks again for sharing these gardens with us!

  4. Susan, thanks for this post. What a terrific, imaginative project and post. Wondering if you could get some of the other Ranters to try this in their home areas, then post them here?
    One of the few reassuring things about this pandemic is how clever, adaptable & productive so many Americans have shown themselves to be, especially small businesses.

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