By RITA KUEBER
For the cost of 50 cents per guest, the Hudson Garden Club decided to offer its first Home and Garden Tour. Forty-nine guests later, they had collected a total of $24.50 which went to replace trees lost to Dutch Elm disease throughout the city – in 1948. Since then, Hudson has offered a garden tour annually, making 2023 its landmark 75th anniversary year. In fact, the Hudson Home & Garden Tour is one of the longest-running events of its kind in the nation. It’s comparable to Charleston’s Festival of Houses & Gardens (75 years), Pennsylvania’s Chester County Day House Tour (81 years), and Naples (FL) House and Garden Tour (70 years).
From humble beginnings, the Hudson Tour has literally bloomed and to date, the Hudson Garden Club estimates it has given nearly $850,000 to the community in the form of scholarships, grants, tree planting and care, school programs, and civic gardens. Throughout its history, proceeds from the tour have always been used to support the mission of the club: spreading the knowledge and love of gardening, the beautification of public property, and the support of education in horticultural and related fields.
This year, the tour is June 16 -17. The event coincides with the Garden Club’s 90th anniversary, and big plans are in the works. For the first time, the Club is offering a preview party on June 15 at HOUSE at Hudson, the home goods store. There, guests will enjoy a signature Hudson 75 cocktail created by Western Reserve Distillers and a grazing table by Waxed Crescent Grazing Company. A bourbon tasting is also available. Guests will be able to tour four homes during the Preview Party and can visit the remaining stops on the tour on either Friday or Saturday.
General admission tickets for June 16-17 are $35 +fee per person and good for both days. The ticket includes access to a Tea Room for beverages, treats, and lunch. There’s also a Garden Shop, open to the public, for the purchase of plants and ‘new to you’ items. The Tea Room and Garden Shop will be at East Woods Intermediate School in Hudson. Additionally, a luncheon is available for purchase on Friday at The Country Club of Hudson. The endeavor is community wide. The Garden Club, 200 members strong estimates 500 volunteers will work the tour over the three days.
Organizers say the tour is for anyone who’s interested in gardens and ideas for outdoor living, but also architecture, design, antiques, and historic preservation. About 1200 people are expected over two days. “This is mostly a driving tour, although some of the gardens are right next to each other,” says Lois James, the club’s president. She points out that all the gardens on the tour have been created by the homeowners, and some have been developed over decades. “The tour is an inspiration to anyone buying a home or remodeling,” she adds. “And there are many ideas for gardens as well.”
Garden highlights include a wide variety of plants and techniques: window boxes and planters, a hoop house (greenhouse), a berry house, espaliered fruit trees, and collections of succulents, orchids, and bonsai. The tour includes a 19th-century working farm garden with heirloom vegetables, herbs, and an orchard. It also includes a Piet Oudolf-inspired native plant area. Oudolf is an internationally renowned landscape designer known for his use of grasses, herbs, and plants as well as flowers for a naturalistic effect.
The Tour includes outdoor living spaces both practical and beautiful. From distinctive stone and wood structures to hardscaping and terraced patios, these outdoor rooms are fun and funky with a chicken coop fashioned from a children’s swing set, unique storage sheds including one with a living roof, and one a former privy. The homes on tour vary from traditional to eclectic and include the first brick home built west of Pittsburgh, and an 1873 Italianate Victorian listed National Register of Historic Places.
The Tour also includes the Case-Barlow Farm, a former 485-acre dairy farm that operated for almost 200 years. The farm’s activities permeate local history. Bricks made by the farm’s owners were used in buildings at what is now the Western Reserve Academy. The original homeowners were friends of abolitionist John Brown and the homestead served as a stop on the Underground Railroad. Currently, the property includes a working garden filled with heirloom vegetables that are sold to the public. The brick home built c1830 is completely restored and the Big Red Barn on the property, one of the largest dairy barns in NE Ohio and has been fully renovated for event rentals.
The tour takes place June 16 (10-7 pm) & June 17 (10-4 pm) with the Preview Party, on June 15 (5-8:30 pm). Tour guests will enjoy the fresh flower arrangements created by Hudson Garden Club members, displayed in many of the rooms, matching the style of the homes. Guests should also keep an eye out for the symbolic 75th anniversary white-rose-and-diamond floral design strategically placed throughout this milestone tour.
Tickets are available pre-event and on the days of the tour. For more information: www.hudsonhomeandgardentour.org
Hudson Home & Garden Tour set for June 16-17
By RITA KUEBER