This is just one of the offerings available next weekend in Shepherdstown, WV!

Yes, Shepherdstown is welcoming summer (we hope!) with a spectacular, jam-packed weekend of fun for all; Gardenfest 2013 this Saturday and Sunday, 18 – 19 May; if you are in the area, why not check it out. Whether you enjoy gardening, music, history, shopping, eating… or just having the chance to be nosy and explore other people’s yards… this is for you!

A painterly image of Love-in-a-Mist (Nigella damascena) embellished with a verse from Voltaire

Love is a Canvas by Julia Springer

Back Alley Garden Tour & Tea

This Shepherdstown tradition gives you a chance to wander through a multitude of hidden backyards and retreats. I believe there are nineteen sites this year – which includes our very own yard! Docents should be present in the yards to help answer any questions about the plantings that you discover there. Secret treasures hide around every corner… unusual plants, striking ornaments, relaxing water features… and you may be surprised just how many yards in this historic town sport their own chickens! This year’s tour has been designed to concentrate on iron, stone, bone and water as a reflection of the town’s heritage.

Tickets (in the form of a brochure detailing all the sites) will be available from the War Memorial Building (102 East German Street) from 10:00 am on Saturday, and from 11:00 am on Sunday. Gardens are open until 4:00 pm each day, and you can also enjoy sandwiches and refreshments at the Tea Party on the second floor of the War Memorial Building during the afternoon on either day.

Live Music and Dance

Also on German Street, opposite the War Memorial building, live performances of dance and music kick off at 11:00 am each day with the Morris Dancers of Shepherdstown – or Hicks with Sticks. They are in full swing at the moment, having had a “warm-up” run at the town’s May Day parade on the 5th. Throughout the course of each afternoon you will be able to enjoy a wide range of jazz, blues, country, folk, rock and indy music being played on the lawn in front of McMurran Hall, and at other venues through town.

Historic buildings open their doors to visitors

The Mecklenberg Tobacco Warehouse – situated close to the boat ramp at the northern end of Princess Street – will be open for tours by the Friends of the Shepherdstown Riverfront on Saturday; they will also be happy to tell you more about birding and other outdoor opportunities available along the riverfront.

On Sunday you have the chance to access the old St. Agnes church on the corner of Washington Street and Church Street. This red brick church was the home of the Catholic church in town until the opening of the modern building at the top end of New Street.

Have you explored the town museum in the Entler Hotel yet? The building itself, which also houses the town’s Visitors’ Center, is one of the town’s icons, dating from 1786, On Saturday, early gardening expert Susan Rosenvold will be giving a presentation on 19th century gardening techniques; these are slated to start on the hour.


King Street, in front of the Town Hall, will be hosting local vendors of agricultural produce, crafts, horticulture and landscaping. Many stores will also have garden themed sidewalk sales. And don’t forget to venture along South Princess Street – passing the ice cream parlor (I love their vanilla peanut butter swirl!) – to cross the railroad tracks and pay a visit to O’Hurley’s General Store; famed for its Thursday night jam sessions, here you will find old world charm at its best! Venture a little way beyond O’Hurley’s and you will come to the Bridge Gallery, where you can enjoy lemonade in the garden and treat yourself to some wonderful garden ceramics created by local ceramics artist Joy Bridy, or a painting by local floral and landscape artist Marian Buckner (meet the artist between 3 and 5 pm on Saturday).

For those of you who enjoy finding a bargain, don’t forget to check out the 1st Shepherdstown Back Alley Sale, which will be taking place in the 200 block of Back Alley on Saturday, from 9 until 4. This community event has united the neighbors on the block and will include many treasured vintage and antique items, liberated as a result of downsizing, as well as more contemporary pieces. The sellers will be happy to hold your purchases for you, whilst you enjoy all the other events in town.

Demonstrations and Exhibits

In addition to the 19th century gardening demonstration, you can also discover more about the sweet art of beekeeping, find out how to use native plants to attract birds and wildlife to your yard (or maybe how not to attract deer!), watch a demonstration of planting in wall hanging planters, or learn how to make compost in a pile in your yard… or even in a bucket in your house! 

Oh, and the mushroom growing? Head down South Princess Street to the garden across from the Devonshire Arms and you will find a demonstration and discussion about mushroom growing techniques.

Have fun, and maybe I’ll see you there!