Community members celebrate neighborhood gardens during annual tour

4 years ago

PRESQUE ISLE, Maine — Many people took advantage of the good weather on Saturday to admire residential gardens in Presque Isle during Grace Interfaith Food Table’s annual Garden Tour fundraiser.


Six households and the Mark and Emily Turner Memorial Library took part in the tour. Each garden featured colorful flowers and plants as well as the gardeners’ unique decorative touches.

Many type of flowers and plants line the gardens of Wanita Hallowell during the Garden Tour on Saturday. (Melissa Lizotte | The Star-Herald)

On Lombard Street, Wanita Hallowell, a newcomer to the tour, showcased dozens of perennial flowers in her many gardens. Throughout the afternoon hours, she welcomed friends and those who were seeing her gardens for the first time.

“Every morning I spend around a half-hour out here and it really makes my day,” Hallowell said, on what she enjoys about gardening. 

As people strolled through the spacious backyard, many admired the hard work that Hallowell has put into her gardens.

Andrea and Nick Pesut of Crouseville, who are friends with Hallowell, embarked on their first GIFT Garden Tour this year and hoped to see the variety of work each gardener has accomplished.

“It’s nice to see how different all the gardens are and how much beauty everyone has brought to them,” Andrea Pesut said.

On the intersection of Second and State streets sits the Mark and Emily Turner Memorial Library’s literary garden, featuring characters from Beatrix Potter’s “Peter Rabbit” books. Typically area children will plant flowers every year, but due to the recent pandemic-related closure, reference librarian Jackie Shaw made sure the colorful petals bloomed for everyone’s enjoyment.

Large hydrangeas line a gazebo in Wanita Hallowell’s backyard during the GIFT Garden Tour fundraiser Saturday. (Melissa Lizotte | The Star-Herald)

Shaw gave folks a tour of the garden, pointing out the educational benefits the space offers to children.

“We use the Mr. McGregor section for storytimes and in the fall we let the kids harvest some tomato plants,” Shaw said.

Just a few miles away on Howard Street, Charlene Buzza, director of volunteer services at GIFT, walked people through her nine front yard and backyard gardens. The gardens were filled with numerous flowers, including geraniums, rose bushes, foxgloves, sunflowers, wild pansy, peonies and mock orange, among others.

Many of the gardens are what she calls “memory gardens,” in honor of both of her late grandmothers or recalling memories from past years. Near one such “Fairy Garden,” Buzza’s husband Gordon keeps an old remote train that still drives along the tracks everyday. She also has turned her daughter’s former playhouse into a “She Shed” for reading and knitting.

“I guess you can call my whole garden a memory garden,” Buzza said. “We’ve lived here 50 years and I’ve gardened on and off for probably 45 of those years.”

Charlene Buzza, director of volunteer services for GIFT, talks about one of her “memory gardens” as part of last weekend’s Garden Tour in Presque Isle. (Melissa Lizotte | The Star-Herald)

The weekend Garden Tour was a fundraiser for GIFT, a pantry that works to address food insecurity in the Presque Isle area. All proceeds will go toward\ food packages that volunteers have been putting together instead of having people come inside during the pandemic period.

“I think the community needs to be thanked for what they do,” Buzza said, referencing the volunteers of GIFT and the people who came to the Garden Tour.