|By Michelle Kealey|
WESTFIELD The Friends of Grandmothers' Garden are hosting their Seventh Annual Garden Tour this weekend, which is the organizations largest fund-raiser.
This year's theme of the tour, which includes nine gardens, is "Reflections ... Water in the Garden."
Mary O'Connell, co-chair of the Grandmothers' Garden Tour with Serena Fuller, explained that the group decided to go with the water theme because many of the gardens chosen for this year's tour include a water element such as a koi pond or a fountain.
O'Connell explained that there is a committee that selects the gardens for the tour.
She said that most of the gardens in the tour are located at different homes in Westfield and Southwick.
O'Connell said that homeowners may contact the friends and ask to be included in the tour. She added that some Friends members may pass by a beautiful garden and then contact the owner and ask if they would like to be included in the tour.
Last year, the organization raised $8,000 during the tour, which was possible through ticket sales and individual sponsors.
O'Connell said that each of the gardens has a major sponsor, who donates $250.
The Friends will also host a raffle as part of the tour, which includes eight limited prints donated from local artists.
Interested individuals can purchase a raffle ticket for $2 and place it next to the print of their choice for the chance to win the artwork they want.
The artists include Valerie McQuillan, Sally Killips, Anthony Tisdell, Joan Steinmeyer and Loraine Pekardri.
This year, the Friends hope to raise $10,000. All of the funds raised from the tour go back into Grandmothers' Garden and Chauncy Allen Park.
O'Connell explained that the Steiger family donated the land to the city in memory of their grandmother.
O'Connell said that the park fell into disarray after a number of years and a group of people formed the Friends and have been committed to bringing it back ever since.
She said that there are about 300 volunteers who are members of the Friends, many of whom spend time planting flowers and weeding the garden.
She added that students from Westfield Vocational Technical High School, which is located across the street from the garden, also help with the work in the garden.
In addition to taking care of Grandmothers' Garden, O'Connell said that the Friends are committed to renovating Chauncy Allen Park.
She explained that the park and garden are about 15 acres combined.
She added that much of the work on the garden has been completed and the Friends will soon concentrate on renovations to the park, which will take years to complete.
The tour will begin with registration at Grandmothers' Garden from 8 a.m. - 12 p.m. on June 25 and 26. Tour hours are 9 a.m. - 4 p.m., rain or shine.
Tickets for the tour, which are good for both days, are $20 per person or $15 for seniors.
Tickets can be purchased in advance by calling O'Connell at 562-6605 or by visiting Grandmothers' Garden the morning of the tour.
Those who participate in the tour will be given a map and addresses of all of the gardens included.
Although addresses of the gardens cannot be released, the names include:
Grandmothers' Garden on Smith Avenue in Westfield, which is the registration area. Sponsors are Westfield Gas and Electric, Eich Brothers Landscaping and Nova Chemicals.
Garden Serenity in Westfield. Sponsor is Richard M. Kane M.D. at UMass Memorial, Wing Hospital, Palmer.
Textured Beauty in Westfield. Sponsors include the Garden Club of the Westfield Woman's Club and Patrick W. Pepek, D.D.S.
Woodland Wonders in Southwick. Sponsor includes College Highway Insurance Agency.
Woodland Retreat in Southwick. Sponsors include Wolcott Realty and Morisi and O'Connell and Roger and Debbie Butler.
Artist's Sanctuary in Southwick. Sponsors include Meadow View Farm and Puffer's Salon and Day Spa.
Wings 'N Things in Southwick. Sponsor is The Notch (Southwick Shell) and Vermont Sandwich Shop Company.
The Ever Changing Garden in Westfield. Sponsor is Picture Perfect Ponds by C.J. Ground Maintenance.
Picture Perfect Ponds in Westfield. Sponsors are The Bank of Western Massachusetts and Mile and Robin Tierney.
For more information about Grandmothers' Garden or Chauncy Allen Park, visit www.grandmothersgarden.org.