About 25 years ago, Mary Alice Eckert’s garden was featured on an HGTV TV show called “Secret Gardens.”
Her garden, which has evolved exponentiallly since then, won’t be a secret any longer to those who visit her during the 14th annual Lewiston GardenFest.
Eckert, who lives in a 150-year-old house at Fourth and Cayuga streets in Lewiston, has devoted 35 years to her colorful yard, with her husband Ross, doing most of the heavy lifting. The payoff is the views from all the windows of her house.
“I look out my windows and I could be looking at a post card,” she said. “I don’t really brag, but I am so proud of this property.”
She started gardening 35 years ago when her best friend showed her how easy and wonderful gardening could be. “It’s never work,” she told a visitor to her garden this week. “It’s a labor of love.”
For those who understand that sentiment, GardenFest will be a showcase of planting potential.
The event, presented by the Lewiston Garden Club, will be held on Center Street in Lewiston, from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday and Sunday. The festival includes more than 80 vendors selling flowers, plants and garden essentials, along with speakers, demonstrations, a free garden walk, container garden contest and more throughout the weekend.
Lewiston GardenFest includes:
• David O’Donnell from Eastern Monarch Butterfly Farm opens Lewiston GardenFest with a butterfly release at 10 a.m. Saturday in Hennepin Park.
• Young gardeners ages 5-11 are encouraged to prepare a special arrangement to participate in the container garden contest. Applications are available at lewistongardenfest.com.
• Bring the kids to Hennepin Park for some crafty fun! Decorate ladybug rocks or create tissue flowers, both while supplies last.
• Join Jackie Albarella, television host and garden author, for a garden talk and demonstration on “Kid’s Gardening” at 11 a.m. Saturday.
Other garden talks include “Using Ornamental Grasses in Container Gardening or Landscape” with Colleen Gaskill, a landscape design specialist, at 2 p.m. Saturday. Master Gardener and Herbalist Peggy Nash shares “Legends, Lore and Use of Herbs” at 1 p.m. Sunday. Master gardeners from Cornell Cooperative Extension and the Hosta and Daylily Societies will be in Hennepin Park throughout the weekend to answer gardening questions and provide free soil sample analysis.
Throughout the weekend, festivalgoers can stroll through several public and private gardens, including the Eckert’s, opened exclusively for Lewiston GardenFest.
New this year, students from Stella Niagara will be showcasing their 2,000 square foot garden, which is utilized as an outdoor classroom to support the school’s integrated outdoor education program. Pick up a map highlighting the featured gardens at one of the hospitality booths during Lewiston GardenFest.
Gardeners who enjoy a little competition can enter the container gardening contest. They are asked to bring their container entry and a stand for display to the hospitality booth located in Hennepin Park by 9 a.m. on Saturday. All individuals who enter the contest will be entered in a drawing to win two tickets donated by Whirlpool Jet Boat Tours. Other prizes, including Maid of the Mist and Aquarium of Niagara tickets, will also be awarded to those containers that garner the most votes, including the children’s category.
Lewiston GardenFest is organized by an enthusiastic and dedicated group of volunteers from the Lewiston Garden Club who put their green thumbs to work for the benefit of the community, said Barbara Landree, Lewiston GardenFest co-chair. “All proceeds from Lewiston GardenFest go back into civic beautification efforts throughout the Lewiston area, including purchasing flowers, landscaping, and providing scholarships,” she said. For more information, visit www.lewistongardenfest.com.