By Lindsey Bonte, Lakeside Marketing Intern

This year, the 18th Annual Garden Tour will take place from 9 a.m.-3 p.m. Wednesday, Aug. 3, showcasing stunning gardens across the Lakeside grounds.

Master Gardener Loretta WilkenThis event celebrates the hard work and passion of residents, business owners, and the Lakeside Grounds staff who enjoy tending to and spending time in their gardens. Guests are invited to experience these landscapes on a self-guided tour.

Loretta Wilken, Lakeside’s Master Gardener, helps organize the Garden Tour. This is her seventh season as Master Gardener and keeping Lakeside beautiful all season long. To prepare, Wilken searches for a variety of gardens for the tour, some big and grandiose, others small and intimate.

“Everyone has their own gardening techniques and what they like, and I love showing variety on the tour,” Wilken says. “Everyone’s garden is unique and there’s a story behind it.”

When working behind the scenes of the Garden Tour and its planning, Wilken notes that the organization and her crew are crucial.“I have to say our crew makes it a lot easier,” she says. “Since I’ve been doing it a while there’s definitely a pattern that’s involved and I’ve learned what works, what doesn’t, what to improve, and what we need to do extra for the next year.”

Wilken highlighted one grounds crew member’s work in particular. “Vern Hartenburg has really spruced up Cherry and Perry Parks. They’re just beautiful!”

Wilken’s favorite part of the Garden Tour is how graciously people open up their gardens to the public and are willing to share their stories. Maps of over 15 featured gardens will be available at all gates, the Fountain Inn and Hotel Lakesidefront desks, and the Lakeside Chautauqua Administration Office on the day of the event to explore featured gardens at your leisure.

To attend the event, a three-hour Partial Day Pass can be purchased for $6, with a $2 charge for each additional hour. These can be purchased at the Fifth Street or South Gate entrances. Parking is not included with the partial day pass. This ticket does not include admission to the Hoover Auditorium show that evening or the Grindley Aquatic Pool & Wellness Campus. There is no additional fee for daily, weekly, or season Chautauqua pass ticket holders.