GRAND RAPIDS, MI — Gardening is a tranquil pastime to some, but it’s serious business in Heritage Hill.
After a year without its annual Heritage Hill Garden Tour, the neighborhood is returning with a splash on Saturday, June 19, bringing back tours to 13 gardens. The event has expanded to include the free Pleasant Park Marketplace, a family-friendly event that features artisan vendors, music and children’s activities.
Karen Coy, co-chair of the Heritage Hill Garden Tour, said that many of the proud garden owners are itching to share a wide variety of styles with guests – ranging from shabby chic to traditional Victorian.
“I think we have so much variety with our styles and architecture, you’re definitely going to see that reflected in the gardens,” she said.
This year’s festivities are especially important for the Heritage Hill Association after key fundraisers and events last year were canceled due to the pandemic.
“We, of course, did have to cancel last year, because of COVID, so we’re definitely really excited to bring it back,” Coy said. “One of the things that’s also really particularly special about this year is we decided to bring it back bigger than ever.”
Organizers are especially excited to offer the community the park event and allow them to reconnect with each other in a space that has been a neighborhood epicenter.
“We hope people will patronize the local artisans and vendors, bring lawn chairs and a picnic while enjoying some music, and head over with their kids to the children’s tent for all the various activities planned throughout the day,” said Barbara Draughon, executive director of the Heritage Hill Association.
“Residents have invested so much effort to make Pleasant Park the beautiful space it is today, and we are glad it will serve as the centerpiece for the event.”
The garden tours have a long history in Heritage Hill, a historic Grand Rapids neighborhood near downtown that has preserved much of its community from serious renovations since the late 19th and early 20th centuries.
Kate Diedrich, co-chair of the Heritage Hill Garden Tour, said the gardens are fundamental to the neighborhood’s beauty, and the homeowners are the artists.
“The people who choose a historic home end up falling in love with it, and the garden becomes the picture frame for the home,” she said. “Since each house and each homeowner are so unique, the gardens tend to reflect a little of both.”
Coy herself fell into that when she inherited her home in the neighborhood. Her garden – a shabby-chic style garden with recycled fixture decor and fairy gardens – will be on display, and she credits much of its development to the area’s enthusiastic community.
“I just kind of started injecting my personality into the yard,” she said. “For me, it’s just been kind of an extension or another way to be creative.”
From tours to historic gardens to enjoying live music, Coy said that all sorts of guests and community members will find something to enjoy.
“It is such a special neighborhood and so we’re always happy to bring people here,” she said. “There’s just such a such a sense of history that’s here.”
On Saturday from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m., people can explore the private gardens of various historic homes and public spaces in the Heritage Hill neighborhood. Advance tickets are $12 and are available at www.heritagehillweb.org, or at the Heritage Hill Association office at 126 College Ave.SE.
Tickets are available on-site the day of the tour for $15 at Pleasant Park, 400 Pleasant Ave., where a map of participating gardens will be provided. A discounted group rate for parties of 10 or more are available in advance for $10 per ticket. Youth ages 12 and under are free.
This year’s free Pleasant Park Marketplace is running in conjunction with the tours from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Besides the variety of artisan vendors, the festival will feature a noon performance by The Mary Rademacher Trio and a DJ who will be playing retro music throughout the afternoon
More tour and ticket information is available online.
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