“A rain date is always set, but with two years of pre-planning, organizing and endless hours of preparation, the first option is “full steam ahead,” explained Barbara Carloss, club president.
The popular daylong event made its debut in the early 1970s and has always been highly anticipated by anyone who is interested in flowers and gardening. Appropriately titled, “Mayfair Goes Green-2011” offered a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to walk in four individual landscaped gardens to gather inspiration and ideas, shop at a plant sale and boutique, and savor a gourmet lunch catered and served by the club members under brightly colored umbrellas on a beautifully manicured lawn. The club’s renowned reputation for its celebration in May prompts furious ticket sales, leaving some avid garden lovers with tour tickets only.
Two garden clubs from neighboring Illinois order their tickets mid-January to ensure their members’ lunch and tour reservations. Bea Adkins, an exuberant Metropolis garden club member, explained, “Our ladies love it. This year’s outing was the best in years.”
Cindy Watson from El Dorado, Ill., has been attending the affair since 1993. “I purchased a ginkgo sapling several years ago. Now it is 4 feet tall and thriving,” she proudly explained. “Not only does our group make a day of the Mayfair, but we also shop other local nurseries and take in one the newest downtown restaurants. We return home with bags full of newly purchased plants and gardening accessories, notes and sketches of garden lay-outs, and the coveted shared recipes of Cranberry-Almond Chicken Salad, Lemon Blossoms, Spicy Bean Salad, and homegrown Strawberry Short Cake. What’s not to like about the Mayfair?”
Lunch was served in the garden of Karen and Mark Edwards while eager plant lovers shopped at Dabney and Bobby Haugh’s lawn for new or much desired plants and garden related items. After browsing through a large assortment of plants, the hottest and fastest selling item remains year after year to be the rosemary topiaries. However, the handmade hypertupha pots and birdbaths created from a tiller’s disc tempted many a horticulturist. Before going to lunch or walking through the gardens, experienced attendees recommend the first stop be the plant sale. Regardless which choice is made, long lines of fashionably dressed women were found patiently waiting to enter either site.
Newly added this year, guests were greeted with informational brochures giving insight and a brief history into the development of each home and garden on tour. According to knowledgeable local gardeners, most gardens in our zone are planted to be at their best in the month of May. Guess that explains the reason for the name Mayfair!
Leisurely strolling through the verdant greenery of Elaine and John Oehlschlaeger’s Garden Patch and Phyllis and Larry Stovestand’s was the ultimate treat of the day bringing an abundance of oohs and aahs from all.
The featured gardens presented both similarities and contrasts in their age and style. One property was established in the early ‘90s in the west end Pines subdivision while the other began in 1919 as a cottage garden. Throughout the last 20 years, various aspects of the scenic gems have been altered according to the owner’s desires, needs and fancies.
A high brick wall was built to enclose the Garden Patch in the 1940s, while a decade later John’s father propagated dozens of boxwood seedlings forming the spectacular bones of the garden. Inspired by her mother-in-law, Phyllis Stovestand’s green space began as a vegetable garden and evolved several years later into a show-stopping floral blockbuster setting perfect for a family wedding and other gatherings.
Both landscaped spaces presented wide lawns curbed and terraced with a mixture of boxwood, hedges, beautiful bricked walls, and offering sunny and shady spots. Birdbaths, statuary, fountains, and ornamental pots and urns tucked among the nooks of greenery and blooming annuals and perennials added highlights, texture and diversity to the garden. Particularly appreciated by the touring visitors were the identifying markers scattered throughout the flora and fauna.
The Greater Paducah Sustainability Project Recycle Now shared the proceeds and benefits with another Garden Club project replacing trees on Jefferson Street lost in the ice storm of 2009. From all 300 guests, a big shout-out of thank you goes to each member of the Paducah Garden Club. Our community is greener and blessed by your endless hours of labor proving the old adage to be true, “Bloom where you are planted!”