Behind many Beacon Hill townhouses are narrow passageways that open to shady, postage stamp courtyards. Traditionally these areas were used to dry laundry, store wood, or house the privy. Nowadays, our “gardens” provide solitude amid the noise and heat of the Hill. Shade perennials thrive and Solomon Seal, Bleeding Heart, Wild Ginger, and Hosta are usual residents. Hydrangea, Manhattan Euonymus, Virginia Creeper and Wisteria will, if provided enough light, climb our urban barriers.
The tour is an all-hands-on-deck effort for our membership. Gardens accessible from the sidewalk are typically on the tour every three to four years. Other club members staff gardens on Tour Day, greet guests, and serve refreshments (including homemade cookies) at the tea in a beautiful local church garden.
On Tour Day, typically 1,800 patrons pay $60 each for a ticket that lets each ticket holder view ten gardens located throughout the neighborhood. The event is profitable, and all net proceeds are distributed in grants from $500 to $5,000 each to support organizations dedicated to promoting horticulture, conservation, and environmental protection. Typical awards are for scholarships and for school, housing, and playground gardens. Even the City of Boston’s greenhouses received a grant to help them supply annuals for Boston’s parks. It’s a fun day, rain or shine. If you’d like to participate in the Hidden Garden tour next May, remember to get your ticket early, because the tour typically sells out weeks before its start.