By Sheree Stubblefield, with Mark Fleischer
Quirky, tiny jewel boxes and majestic, grand, elegance. At your fingertips. Chickens and bees and edibles. Online. A unique and wonderful diversity of gardens, of all varietal.
It is billed as the Largest Virtual Garden Walk in the Mid-South. It’s the 2020 Cooper-Young Garden Walk, and it’s all online: 31 gardens, over 200 images, dozens of personal garden stories.
The theme this year is, “Beauty, Health and Sustainability.” The theme was intentionally chosen (before the current pandemic) during a time when people are reflecting on what they can do to heal the earth. Gardening is a natural remedy. It provides beauty, health both physically and mentally while also contributing to pollinators and wildlife supporting the ecosystem.
Feature image: Historic Cheatham-Barron House Garden, Randall Witherington & Kerry Palmertree garden entrance, Blythe Street
Preparation – the real, live version – takes months.
The virtual version took extra preparation. “With group gatherings cancelled,” the Cooper-Young Garden Club website tells us, “we’re bringing our annual garden walk to you. While we can’t highlight everything we had planned for our 5th Cooper-Young Garden Walk, we hope you enjoy this sampling of 31 quirky, inventive gardens.”
The Garden Walk is organized and hosted by the Cooper-Young Garden Club. The Walk started in 2016 to raise money to beautify Cooper-Young with 23 gardens on the Walk. Their official mission is to beautify Memphis, celebrate gardens and gardeners, educate and of course have fun.
“Meet our creative gardeners,” the website continues, “from beginners to master gardeners, who share their garden photos, tips, and recipes to inspire you!”
The CY Garden Club also promotes and encourages gardening in the city. They want burgeoning urban gardeners to know it can be done and show all gardeners ways to be creative in their gardens. That’s one aspect of the Garden Walk that makes it desirable to visitors. The very things that can be limiting to urban gardening are the very things that provide an opportunity to be original and innovative using such things as artwork and recycled pieces.
Another example of this opportunity to innovate is the Garden Walk going virtual in 2020. Being forced to go online has already inspired ideas for futures Walks. Garden tourism is the 2nd fastest growing tourism sector in the US and the goal of the Garden Club is to bring garden tourism to the forefront of Memphis and grow the walk beyond Cooper-Young. The hope is that by reaching out to other garden clubs, botanical instituions and landscapers the next Walk can feature gardens that will be open all summer throughout the city for more people to enjoy.
The 2020 Virtual Garden Walk is already online for the months of May and June with 31 gardens available to view along with speakers, sponsors and educators. Online gardens include information on the owner, garden description, philosophy, tips, recipes, and interviews. All viewing is free but donations are happily accepted.
The Cooper-Young Garden Club Virtual Garden Walk starts here.