The details of Jim and Diane Myracle’s garden, from the intricacies of the irrigation system to how the plants are meticulously identified, required visitors on June 2 to look closely.
“This is all just a giant experiment for us,” Diane Myracle said as people walked around the front yard of her Wyoming Avenue home for the annual Maplewood Garden Club Walk.
A mix of six public and private gardens, located in Maplewood, South Orange and East Orange, formed the stops on this year’s tour, a private event open to members of the Garden Club and their guests. The tour culminated with a ribbon-cutting ceremony for a rain garden next to the Hilton Branch of the Maplewood library.
“It’s kind of a fun thing for the members to do,” Judy Cronin, the club’s president, said of the event. “We love to see the different plants and what people have done in their backyards.”
Each year, the club members responsible for organizing the tour seek out a variety of gardens, including those of non-club members. Aside from exposing the members to the beauty of plants and flowers, the tour has an educational component.
“We were looking not necessarily for a picture-perfect, magazine-type garden but for gardens that … were personal in nature,” said Nancy Schwartz, a co-coordinator of the tour. “We’re really looking for gardens that can give people ideas of what they could do, and also had some imaginative ideas.”
To Schwartz, each garden has a story to tell.
Ellie Winslow, a Maplewood resident, said she downsized her garden after the death of her husband in 2003. The following year, club member Joanne Beckerich designed a more manageable garden for her. Leading a walk through her garden, Winslow pointed to the various species of plant life growing in her backyard.
“My motivation to invite the Garden Club to visit this year was that this is now an example of something that was planned eight years ago,” she said. “Some stuff is growing too big. I have added some new stuff. So it’s an example of what happens over time, and I thought it would be interesting to people.”
In the Myracles’ case, their front-yard garden is like a mini produce section at the grocery.
They grow herbs, tomatoes, cucumbers, peas, peppers, lettuce, lemongrass and watermelons, to name just a few items.
“We have 17 tomato plants and they represent about eight different varieties, because we make all of our own sauces, without salt. And we can adjust the flavor depending upon the different combinations of tomatoes varieties that we put into each pot,” Diane Myracle said.
“We can individually irrigate each plant. We can adjust how much water (they get) so we don’t waste water,” she said.
“What people make out of these pretty small yards in this area is incredible,” Schwartz said. “Really, each one of these gardens has a story.”
Philip Sean Curran can be reached at 908-686-7700, ext. 116, or at email@example.com.