Laura Lap never thought too much of the lush garden that surrounds her Lee Street home in Patchogue, a kaleidoscope of purples, oranges, reds and blues that shifts with the seasons.
“I never knew what I was doing,” she said. “I just did what I liked.”
That’s why she was somewhat surprised to get a knock on her door this spring from Paula Murphy of the Patchogue Garden Club, which wanted Lap’s handiwork to be featured in the club’s annual Garden Tour. She agreed. And on Saturday, her garden was the second stop on the self-guided driving tour, now in its 15th year.
(More photos below.)
Lap didn’t mind having dozens of people mulling around her property all day.
“I’m from a big family,” she said.
The tour included six gardens from Patchogue Village to East Patchogue, and kicked off at the club’s community garden at Terry Street and South Ocean Avenue, where the participants began. Those who didn’t pay early plunked down $20 for a yellow tour guide that was their ticket onto the gardeners’ properties.
The club then uses the proceeds to help beautify Patchogue Village.
“Each year, Paula and her committee literally drive around Patchogue, and if they see something that has potential, they either stop at the person’s home, or they’ll leave a letter asking them to please call because we may consider their house for the tour,” said Mark Jeffers, the club’s president. “Many people don’t ever respond. Some people do. She also solicits suggested homes from club members and others.”
Jeffers said prepping a garden to showcase is “a lot of work,” but that’s not all the gardeners have to do.
“Each homeowner is responsible for writing some kind of story about the development of their garden,” he said. “Their ideas. Why they place things where they did. Their love of gardening. Something about their adventure that is interesting to read for those people who are going on the tour.”
Those stories are then compiled in the tour guide, along with directions to each stop.
Josephine Miller, who founded the club in 1996 and came up with the idea for the tour in 2000, said she had gone on a lot of garden tours in the Hamptons before bringing the concept to Patchogue.
“You can just imagine the gardens in the Hamptons are absolutely spectacular,” she said. “My thought was that people would enjoy seeing gardens that were put together by those who had more modest resources. A garden that you would look at and say, ‘Oh I can do this.’ And you wouldn’t need a fortune to do it.”
For Murphy, she actually featured the garden at her own Smith Street home this year, after two other homeowners had backed out.
“I took this over 14 years ago and I’ve loved every second of it,” she said of the tour. “Because we get to show all these wonderful little places that Patchogue has to offer and the kinds of people that live here and have an investment in the community. The people who come are happy. The gardeners get such positive feedback from the visitors.”
Since this was a fifth-year anniversary, pieces of art were also displayed at the properties.
Lap said any stress leading up to showcasing her garden Saturday didn’t come from having to weed or prune. She wanted the rest of the house to look nice, too.
So, she had some handy work to do before the visitors arrived.
“I was looking around and noticing everything, like with the foundation,” she said. “There was peeling. So I was doing a lot of work around the house. But that was all self-imposed pressure.”
Photo 1: Laura Lap greets visitors to her Lee Street yard Saturday. (Credit: Michael White photos)
Paula Murphy’s Smith Street garden (below) was also featured on the tour: