By TRINA RUNNER
News & Journal Staff Writer
With spring in full bloom, there is no better time to visit Shepherdstown, West Virginia. For 21 years, the town has created a living backdrop of beautiful gardens and opened it to the public during the Back Alley Gardens & Tea Party. Sponsored by the Shepherdstown Community Club, it will take place on May 19-20 in Shepherdstown, with free parking at Shepherd University.
The event gives patrons the opportunity to stroll through private outdoor spaces of over a dozen homes in the oldest city in West Virginia. Both gardens and homes reflect the city’s history, including 200-year-old carriage steps and centuries old stone walls and structures. Self-guided tour maps are available, followed by an elegant afternoon tea.
Some featured gardens have been designed by professionals and some have a personal touch, but all of them are full of lush flowers and plants that are both interesting and innovative. Whether formal, casual, large, or small, each garden featured on the tour is sure to embrace the essence of spring and the creative side of the homeowners. New this year will be the gardens of Popodican, the official residence of the President of Shepherd University. Landscapers will be on-hand to answer design questions and offer suggestions.
Town Run, a little stream that runs through Shepherdstown, outlines the tour from the south of town into the Potomac River, cutting through twelve gardens, natural water features and designs made entirely of plants. A Monarch butterfly station will be featured during the event also, sponsored by the Monarch Alliance, who will have educational sessions throughout the day.
Shepherdstown was incorporated in 1792 and is the home of many historic homes from both the 18th and 19th centuries. In addition to the garden tours, the city will also host an art exhibit at the War Memorial Building and a Farmers Market on Sunday. The tour and the other events will be held rain or shine.
Garden Tours will be from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Saturday and 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Sunday, with teas offered from noon to 4 p.m. each day. Tickets are $20 each for the garden tour and tea party, with all proceeds benefitting the Community Club’s projects on improving and preserving the War Memorial Building and Morgan’s Grove Park.