Marilyn Buchanan (left) and Nansee Williams (right) set out the event’s signs in Jonesborough.

By LISA WHALEY

Publisher

lwhaley@heraldandtribune.com

Some of Jonesborough’s most beautiful secrets will be revealed this Saturday as the Tuesday Garden Club and Schubert Club kick off their 21st Annual Garden Gala Tour.

“This is something for yourself,” explained Tuesday Garden Club President Marilyn Buchanan as she worked to finish the final touches on the “Through the Garden Gate”  event. “You can go and see the gardens and have lunch and do some shopping. It’s just a day for you.”

Set to be held Saturday, from 10 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. in downtown Jonesborough, this year’s gala – as in years past – will feature old town gardens, a collection of garden vendors and a lovely garden tea.

But there are also going to be a few changes, according to Tuesday Garden Club Vice President Nansee Williams.

“We’ve changed the time to begin earlier,” Williams said.

This year, the tour will  begin at 10 a.m. That, she explained, is to take advantage of the cooler hours of the day. “One year it reached 100 degrees,” she recalled.

Last year’s ticketed seminar is also a thing of the past.

“We are having demonstrations in the garden this year,” Williams explained. And these demonstrations will be informally hosted by the home gardeners themselves, ready and eager to share their expertise as asked.

Topics will include “Raising Chickens in the Garden,” “French Double Digging,” “Farmers’ Market Ready,” “Composting 101” and more.

This year’s event, agreed both Buchanan and Williams, may be one of their best galas yet, as they’ve taken two decades of experience to plan the day.

“I would go to get ideas,” Williams said. “Because of the creativity of the homeowners. I am just blown away by them.”

For early birds, registration will begin at 8 a.m., according to Buchanan. And should those birds be hungry, there are a number of breakfast opportunities before the gala begins.

“It starts at 8 at the Historic Jonesborough Visitors Center,” Buchanan said. Tickets can be purchased at that time —$16 each — and participants can receive their swatch at that time that will allow guest to visit any of the featured gardens listed on their programs.

If you already have purchased a ticket, Williams added, your name will be on a list and you can also receive your swatch.

“People can come and then go get breakfast at the Jonesborough Presbyterian Garden Gala Breakfast or go to the Corner Cup and get crepes,” Buchanan said. “Or garden lovers can visit Boone Street Market or even the Pancake House for their morning fare.”

The tour itself – a self-guided one that can proceed in the order and at the pace of the ticketholder – begins at 10. Bus stops and water stations are shown on the map for both ease of travels and to ensure guests don’t get dehydrated.

And then there are the gardens, from vegetable to water to floral, as well as raised bed, gazebos, mosaics and more.

A special noon to 2:30 p.m. Garden Tea will give guests the chance to sample some sweet and savory treats and sip cool refreshments.

There will be lots of time, as well to shop for treasures at the Courthouse and Storytelling Plaza, where vendors will showcase everything to do with gardening, from sun visors to gnomes. Garden lovers can also extend their adventure to lunch and shopping downtown when restaurants and retailers will be featuring gala specials.

“This is to share our gardens,” said Buchanan, whose garden will be on the tour. “We have beautiful gardens.”

Better yet, she said, money raised will be used on goes to support a wide variety of Jonesborough projects and events, from the food bank, the library, At Home with Santa and more.

Tickets for the Garden Gala are $16.00 for a group of 10 or more tickets are $13.00 and may be purchased online at Jonesborough.com or by calling the Jonesborough Visitors Center at 423-753-1010.