Garden Tour Profits Up, Garden Club Gives it Away to Local Organizations

Proceeds from the Tour of the Hidden Gardens of Beacon Hill enabled the Beacon Hill Garden Club to donate

Diana Coldren and Kim Stockwell co-chaired the Garden Club’s 2018 Tour of the Hidden Gardens of Beacon Hill.

$111,500 to mostly local environmental and horticultural organizations in June. Revenues were up 23 percent and ticket sales rose more than 13 percent. The tour took place on May 17.

“We were thrilled with the money we raised,” said Kate Enroth of Brimmer Street, the newly elected president of the club. “You can’t imagine how satisfying it is to vote at our annual meeting to make such a difference for worthy organizations and efforts around the city.”

Enroth thanked the sponsors and local businesses for their help. She also thanked residents who gracefully tolerate the 2,000 visitors plying the neighborhood’s streets every year.

Some donations are notable. For example, the club granted a total of $15,000 to six organizations, such as the Boston Food Forest, City Sprouts and the Bromley Heath/Mildred Hailey Apartments. These organizations provide food or gardening experiences for children. The city’s greenhouses, the Emerald Necklace Conservancy and the New England Wildflower Society received $1,000 each.

Neighborhood recipients were Historic New England, the Phillips Street Park, the Charles Street tree pits, the Garden of Peace, the historic elms on Mount Vernon Street, the Friends of the Public Garden, Codman Island and Marathon Daffodils.

Old North Church received $8,000 to help fund its current garden renovation. The Beacon Hill Garden Club has a special relationship with Old North, having tended its garden since the 1930s and redesigning it in 1946, 1976 and the early 1990s. The club gave $55,000 for the garden in 2016. Part of that donation—$25,000—came from the club’s own Challenge Grant fund. The rest was money received from the Garden Club of America’s Founders Fund for the club’s winning submission of Old North’s garden.

Ten percent of the tour proceeds were deposited into the club’s Challenge Grant Fund to accumulate over a few years. That fund enables the club to grant a significant amount to special projects around the city, as occurred at Old North.

To celebrate the 90th anniversary of the garden club’s founding, club leaders proposed a one-time gift of significance on Beacon Hill itself. So $35,000 was designated for transforming the Myrtle Street Playground, with restored fencing, green space, containers, benches and watering. In addition the club contributed $25,000 to the creation of Myrtle the Turtle, a bronze climbing structure at the playground by sculptor Nancy Schön of Make Way for Ducklings fame. Club members’ individual donations will raise the rest of the funds needed for creating and installing the sea turtle.

Kim Stockwell of Chestnut Street and Diana Coldren of Charles River Square were tour co-chairs. On the night before the tour, the club invited residents of the neighborhood and beyond to its third annual Garden Soirée in the King’s Chapel Parish House garden to celebrate the tour and raise additional funds. The lead sponsor for the soirée was again Fiduciary Trust. Other significant sponsors were JW Construction, the Beacon Hill Hotel & Bistro, C.H. Newton Builders, Inc. Devonia Antiques, LandVest Luxury Properties, Robert Hanss Inc. Landscape Construction and J. McLaughlin.

In addition, in-kind donations were provided by The Catered Affair, Zen Associates, Inc., good, the Lower Falls Wine Company, Follain, jazz musicians Lisa Macalaster and Richard Pierce and Table & Tulip. Robust participation from neighborhood businesses that signed up for ads in the tour booklet also helped in the fundraising.

Because much of the tour’s proceeds have gone to the Beacon Hill neighborhood this year, the club hopes to have significant contributions available for other parts of the city next year—as long as the tour continues to produce significant funds, a situation that depends mightily on good weather and the kindness of corporate and business neighbors.

The club invites local horticultural or environmental organizations to apply for funds, which are distributed each year after the tour. The address for requests is the Beacon Hill Garden Club, Box 302, Charles Street Station, Boston, MA 02114.

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