Garden tour: Man cave to magazine showplace

What could be more beautiful than seeing exquisite private homes and gardens in full bloom on the Kennett Public Library’s House and Garden Tour? It’s the knowledge that the price of your admission ticket will help fund key library programs.

Showstoppers on the Kennett Public Library Home & Garden Tour will include a historic springhouse.

Showstoppers on this year's Kennett Public Library Home and Garden Tour will include a historic springhouse.

“This year’s tour, scheduled for Saturday, June 4, from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., offers an amazing variety of homes and gardens with something of interest for everyone,” explained Louise Colburn, the library’s special events committee chair.

Entitled “Chadds Ford and Beyond,” the tour includes eight properties that are seldom open to the public and represent a variety of styles and gardens.

“One home features a fabulous ‘man cave.’ An 1843 farmhouse displays an assortment of antique carriages and cars. One charming house on the tour was originally a schoolhouse,” said Colburn. “There is also an historic inn and a spectacular garden oasis once featured in Martha Stewart Living.”

Adding to the allure of the house and gardens are food tastings provided by local restaurants and floral arrangements that complement the unique décor and color scheme of each home. Talented local artists, painting “en plein air” in the gardens, will transport viewers to the time of French impressionists.

hgt“These extra touches, in addition to the tour's controlled geographical scale and the friendly and knowledgeable guides, ensure a leisurely, pleasurable day of relaxing strolls through breath-taking properties,” said Nancy Olsen, an original and still active committee member. “In addition, 11 to-die-for gift baskets will be raffled off the day of the tour. The baskets will be displayed at the library prior to the tour, and then in the homes on the day of the tour.”

Donna Murray, director of the Kennett Public Library said the staff and library board are extremely grateful to the committee volunteers who work so hard all year long.

“This event is not only a great fundraiser, but also a lovely and popular event,” said Murray. “Revenue from the tour is so important to our operations and enables us to offer innovative and valuable programs to our community. We would not be able to do half of what we do if it weren’t for this committee.”

For example, the 2015 tour, which raised $27,395, made possible an upcoming visit from children’s author and illustrator Margie Palatini. The creator of beloved children’s books such as “Piggie Pie” and “Mooseltoe,” Palatini will appear at the library in May.

Murray explained that more than 10,700 children and nearly 3,100 teens attended library programs in 2015. These programs ranged from STEM-oriented tech and science classes to a variety of book discussion groups and social clubs, as well as programs that encourage both creativity and analytical thinking.

The year-round programs at the library include a diversity-driven world art and geography class for elementary students, a monthly tabletop gaming night for teens, and graphic novel reading groups on three age levels that encourage a love of reading and art. The video game club, which has received widespread acclaim, gives participants access to gaming equipment and valuable social time with their peers while enjoying unique, age appropriate games, Murray said.

Murray is pleased that participation in these programs brings a sense of ownership to the community space to the point that students have gone on to volunteer, and even find part-time jobs, at the library.

The Adult Literacy Program provides classes and tutoring opportunities for the non-English-speaking population. Attendance at classes in 2015 was 3,526, and about 100 students were partnered with a tutor. The Kennett Public Library is the only library in the area to offer both classes and tutoring opportunities, Murray said.

Planning for next year’s tour begins as soon as this year’s tour ends. “The special events committee is always looking for enthusiastic people with helpful connections,” said Colburn.

The committee will soon begin choosing eight houses for 2017. “It doesn’t matter if they are large or small, new or old, as long as they are interesting,” she said, explaining that the committee tries to showcase houses from a different area every year.

Only 550 tour tickets at $40 each are available for this year’s tour, which typically sells out. An “early bird special” of $35 is available from April 18 to May 8. This year, for the first time, tickets may be purchased online at Tickets may also be purchased at the library. For more information, visit the website or call 610-444-2702.



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About Lora B. Englehart

Lora has a passion for art, gardening, yoga, music and dancing. She continues to research the life of locally born abolitionist and 1998 National Women's Hall of Fame inductee Mary Ann Shadd Cary. She is a dedicated community volunteer, working with the American Association of University Women, Wilmington, DE branch (programs chair), Chadds Ford Historical Society (former board member) and Brandywine Conservancy & Museum of Art. Lora lives in Birmingham Township with her husband Bill and son Brad. Daughter Erika lives in Pittsburgh with husband Bob and baby Wilhelmina. She is a former French, Spanish and ESL teacher, bilingual life insurance underwriter and public relations coordinator for Delaware Art Museum and Brandywine Conservancy & Museum of Art.



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