Sunday, June 9, 2013

A Garden Photo Diary of The Garden State's Keyport GardenWalk

Mother Nature returned the favor to Keyport.
She kissed the town's second annual GardenWalk with glorious weather.

It was perfect for strolling the gardens with a small group of garden lovers from my yoga practice.

We also saw first-hand, the restorative power of gardens.
Keyport was hit hard by superstorm Sandy but that didn't dampen the spirit of these hometown gardeners.
Gardening is a humbling experience in its own right, after all.

These citizens and garden artists rolled up their shovels, planted their vegetable gardens and are taking the growing season one day glorious day at a time.

Enjoy the beauty of some of the gardens here...

Community Edible Garden
Edible Garden's oval beds
Edibles Gardens are so pretty
Water Garden tickle the senses:

Rain Garden

Videos of water features on the GardenWalk shows how sensual water in the garden can be -- from fountains to waterfalls and koi ponds...

And Fairy Gardens were discovered!

Creative Container Gardens
Hand Painted Container

Art Abounds:


Friday, June 7, 2013

Garden State’s FREE Keyport GardenWalk, June 8 & 9

Home Garden of the Master Gardeners Dennis & Kathleen McNamara

This is the second year for this local, robust, multi-media, artful garden event.

Given that Superstorm Sandy smote the town of Keyport since the inaugural garden walk event, that’s saying a lot.

So no surprise that a bit of spring rain -  as compared to Sandy - will not dampen tomorrow’s walk.
No way.

Rain or shine, the Keyport GardenWalk (KGW) is brimming with more than 40 gardens to visit – from vegetable gardens to fairie gardens, cottage gardens and aptly named, “We’re still here” garden – along with nearly 10 seminars on compelling and topical subjects, including post-Sandy plant and shrub care, xeriscaping, herbal libations and garden art.   

The Keyport GardenWalk is to offer a weekend filled with more than a wheelbarrow full of all kinds of personal gardens, made all the more remarkable by the fact that Superstorm Sandy rendered this shore community a one-two punch.

Keyport suffered badly as a result of Sandy’s fury. 
There was no getting around it. 
So rather than pretend that life is back to normal – whatever that is – Keyport citizens and garden lovers pivoted. 
They took all of the heartache into account and made it part of this year’s program. 
After all, it’s now part of the town’s illustrious history.

Speaking of history, Keyporters may be Jersey strong but perhaps a tad too modest. 
The introduction history to Keyport is the first aha!

The KGW brochure kicks off with “A bit of introduction to the town so many of us call home…
The Kearny Family settled in Keyport in 1714. In 1830, the Kearny Plantation was auctioned off and Keyport was established. For most of the 19th century Keyport was a major shipping and ship building center. 
In the early 20th century the Aeromarine Plane and Motor Company introduced many aviation firsts, namely, the first international airline.”

I had to read that twice and then again to my husband.
The home of the first international airline?  Seriously, no one knows this.  We drive past the Airport cinema plaza and sometimes wondered about the moniker ….

Besides the bust-your-buttons bragging rights this historical high offers, the commercial enterprise and the ship building probably also help explain the moneyed Victorian homes and dedication to fine gardening found there. 
I will have to ask an Historical Society expert about this on the Garden Walk…
Plus don't you think the town is ahem, "missing the boat" in terms of tourism?  They could claim the shipbuilding past a la Colonial Williambsburg.   

Reading the advanced copy of the Keyport GardenWalk brochure – I was immediately struck how the cover art looked like a Frieda Kahlo-inspired piece. 

The ink-black background and intensified female facial head is adorned with a mane of electric green hair and leaf d├ęcolletage, along with ruby red lips and cornflower blue eyes and like-colored blossoms nesting as a May crown. And make-up that would make Estee Lauder weep!  

The happy, flower lady cover art and official Keyport GardenWalk poster is rendered by local resident, Judy O’Connor.
According to the Keyport Garden Walk literature, “O’Connor was one of hundreds of senior citizens evacuated to a temporary shelter set up at the Keyport Central School the night Hurricane Sandy hit Keyport.  KGW poster contest Chairperson, Diane Calabrese, said, “the quality and variety of artwork submitted for the contest exceeded our highest expectations.  Once we made our selection and discovered the artist was one of the Sandy evacuees it was particularly meaningful.  Ms. O’Connor said, “One of my neighbors slipped information on the poster contest under my door and said ‘Judy, you should do this.’  “I’m glad I did,” she added. 

Further, as supplied by KGW:
Keyport Gardens Bloom after Hurricane Sandy

It is hard to believe only six months after Hurricane Sandy, Keyport’s popular GardenWalk will take place on June 8th and 9th with even more gardens than last year’s event that brought 1,600 visitors to the borough on the Raritan Bay. 

According to Keyport Garden Club President, Lois Farina Reilly, "The morning after Sandy hit, most of us in Keyport were in a state of shock, along with much of the Jersey Shore.  
Our residents and businesses then did what Keyport people do; they banded together, regrouped and began to cleanup and rebuild. And the Keyport Garden Club moved forward with plans for the second annual Keyport GardenWalk.”

Hurricane Sandy, ironically, (I should say, poignantly) plays a role in this year’s KGW.  The popular horticultural seminars offered at the KGW needed a new venue as Sandy destroyed the Keyport Historical Society’s Steamboat Dock Museum and the magnificent Arts Society of Keyport. 
“The Keyport Borough administration and elected officials have been so supportive and offered the use of the Council Chambers in Borough Hall for our KGW seminars this year,” reported Keyport GardenWalk Chairperson, Clare Skeen.  “In fact, one of our seminars is about the effects of saltwater on plants and shrubs.  It is a timely topic that should be popular with our visitors.” 

The Keyport GardenWalk is a free, self-guided walking and biking tour of 41 public and private gardens in Keyport.  “In addition to touring the gardens, visitors will enjoy live music, horticultural seminars, and pedicab rides – all free,” said Skeen. 
“On Saturday the 8th, we will have two talented musical groups – Frank Patrouch and friends and The Savannah Hat Company perform.”

En plein air artists from all over New Jersey will also be on hand painting in various public and private venues,” Skeen added.

“Uncle Louie G’s Italian Ices and Ice Cream is celebrating their one-year anniversary in town and arranged for London Fogg, a popular NY band specializing in British Invasion/60’s music to play in the Keyport mini-park on Sunday the 9th, “ she explained.

“The mission of Keyport GardenWalk is to inspire, educate and motivate visitors to go back to their own towns and improve their home landscapes and public spaces. 
Offering horticultural seminars is a key component to fulfilling that mission,” said Skeen.

Seminar Schedule:

Saturday – June 8th
10:00AM – Steven Kristoph of Steven Kristoph Nursery – “Hurricane Sandy and saltwater damage to your plants and shrubs”
1:30PM – “Garden Art for Beginners – 101” – Trinity Restaurant*
2:30PM – Megan Paska of The Homestead at Seven Arrows Farm East – “Succession planting and increasing yield from your vegetable garden”.

Sunday – June 9th
10:00AM - Arleen Swart of Sea Grass Design and Landscape – “Xeriscaping – plant selection to reduce the need for supplemental water in your landscape design”
2:30PM – Ken McPeek – General Manager of Seasons Matter Inc.– “Utilizing rain water run-off and sump pump discharge in your landscape”
3:30PM – “Herbal Libations” – Trinity Restaurant*

*Garden Art for Beginners – 101” and ”Herbal Libations” will be held at Trinity Restaurant  - 84 Broad Street.  All other seminars will be held in the Council Chambers at Keyport Borough Hall – 70 West Front Street.

The seminars are free and all are welcome – please pre-register by emailing

“Keyport GardenWalk is so successful because of the generosity of our residents and sponsors.  It is quite remarkable a town the size of Keyport is able to showcase 41 gardens and attract visitors from all over the tri-state area.  We are only able to offer KGW as a free event because of our wonderful sponsors.”
Event Sponsors: Reedy International and The Garden Club of New Jersey, Inc.

Major Sponsors: Pine Belt Nissan of Keyport, Sea Grass Design and Landscape LLC
Keyport Bayfront Business Cooperative (KBBC) and Trinity Restaurant

Supporters: NY/NJ Baykeeper, Espresso Joe’s and Uncle Louie G’s Italian Ices and Ice Cream

Contributors: Apollo Sewer & Plumbing, Check Electrical Corporation, Sovereign Santander Bank – Keyport Branch, Keyport Spanish American Club and Dearborn Market.  

“We applaud these businesses and organizations for embracing our mission – Keyport GardenWalk would not happen without their generosity and support,” said Skeen.

Keyport Garden Club President Reilly summed it up by saying “On June 8th and 9th we will once again open our town to folks from far and near, and prove to them, and to ourselves, that something like Sandy will not stop gardeners from bringing beauty to their surroundings; we will continue to bloom!"

For more information about Keyport GardenWalk, June 8th and 9th – 11:00AM – 3:00PM please contact Clare Skeen – 732-687-9519.