WHEELING - Gardeners are passionate. Rain or shine, watering or weeding, they are in their gardens. On Saturday, June 26, area residents can view some of the Ohio Valley's most creative gardens and meet some of the passionate gardeners who create these lavish outdoor spaces.
A fundraiser for the Museums of Oglebay Institute, the Secret Garden Tour & Market gives guests the opportunity to walk through some of the most beautiful places in the Wheeling area. The five locations are kept secret until guests arrive at the Mansion Museum between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m. to purchase a ticket and receive a map and directions for a self-guided tour of each secret garden. The event also includes free marketplace shopping with more than 30 vendors.
Museums director Christin Byrum said this biennial event is popular because "people love the idea of getting to see something they wouldn't normally see." She added that each garden showcases the special interests of the homeowners and that the tour features gardens crafted solely by their owners.
"Each enchanted space is alive with color, marked with the specialties of its maker. Come discover what secrets these gardeners use," she said.
One garden features a modern patio complete with a full-size hot tub. Another includes a vegetable patch for a little subsistence farming. One garden is home to various wildlife, including a cardinal's nest, and another is inspired by English cottage living. The tour also includes a green retreat divided into sections including native West Virginia plants, vegetables and a shade garden for guests' enjoyment. Another spot offers a picket fence border covered with ferns and cascading vines and a large window box of geraniums, creeping jenni, bacopa and diamond frost.
The tour features all manner of flowery beauties. From butterfly bushes to Lantana to underwater plants, these homeowners are expanding the definition of gardening.
Another fun aspect of the event is the market. Dozens of vendors will set up shop outside the Mansion Museum, selling not only garden-related items, but also a wide variety of merchandise including edible treats, home furnishings, jewelry, art supplies, original artwork, purses and more.
"Even if people choose not to take the tour, they can still come and shop at the market," Byrum said.
The last Secret Garden Tour tickets are sold at 2 p.m., and guests have until 4 p.m. to take the self-guided tour. The market is open from 9 a.m.-6 p.m. outside the Mansion Museum and is free to the public.
Tickets are available for advance purchase for $12 at Ferda's Garden Center, the Mansion Museum and the Stifel Fine Arts Center. They are available for $15 at the Mansion Museum the day of the tour.
The vendors for the market include: Antique Junction; Beauti Control; Cathy's Dichroic Fused Glass Jewelry and By The Pound Cake & Candy; Cydney; Dolce Pizzelles Cookie Co.; Fairy Dust Crafts; Ferda's Garden Center; Finishing Touches, The Art of Entertaining; FXB; Gourmet Goodies by Alicia; Home and Garden Treasures; Izzy B Custom Creations; Janet Hart Watercolors; lia sophia Jewelry; Lippencott Alpacas; Lynn Buch Interiors; Master Gardeners; Misty Mountain Estate; Nature Notes; Premier Designs Jewelry; Rainie Creations; Silpada Designs; Simply Elegant Handmade Jewelry; Southern Living at Home; Sterling Rose; Tealightful Treasures; The Bag Lady; The Vintage Home and Garden Collection; Un Common Art Glass Jewelry and Wilson Fused Glass.
The event is organized by the Committee of the Museums of Oglebay Institute, and all proceeds support the Museums. The co-chairwomen for the tour are Beth Weaver of Wheeling and Bonnie Anderson of Moundsville, W.Va. The co-chairwomen for the market are Stephanie Grove, Barbara Ruben and Kathy Figaretti, all residents of Wheeling.
"We are so grateful for the hard working committee members and to the gracious homeowners who have opened their gardens to the public to support a worthwhile cause," Byrum said.
The Museums of Oglebay Institute include both the Mansion and Glass Museums, located in Oglebay, and offer the public an elegant glimpse into the past. Once the summer home of millionaire philanthropist Earl W. Oglebay, the Mansion Museum offers 13 period rooms, the Wymer General Store and Sinclair Pharmacy collections and a changing exhibit in the Sauder Gallery. The nearby Glass Museum houses the finest collection of Wheeling glass in the country.
For more information, call 304-242-7272. Visit on the Web at OIonline.com.