WEST NEWBURY – When it comes to creative inspiration, “nature never disappoints,” says Margo Pullman, a local plein air painter and floral designer for Boston’s Museum of Fine Arts.
This is what makes Art in the Garden so perfect. The event, hosted by the West Newbury Garden Club in association with the city’s cultural council, is a self-guided artistic expression tour of some of the area’s finest cultivated areas.
Art in the Garden takes place on Saturdays, rain or shine, from 10am to 4pm and includes eight gardens in West Newbury and one in Elm Park in Groveland.
With gardens steeped in history as well as recently designed landscapes, each site is a natural canvas of sorts on which community gardeners have left their own green thumbprint with plants such as wisteria, hydrangea, foxgloves, hostas, coneflowers, peonies and climbing roses; combined with the aroma of valerian.
Guests will enjoy the panoramic view of the hills, stone walls, waterfalls, fountains, fairy houses, sculptures and water flies floating on frog and fish ponds.
Way to the River’s Lynn and Steve Boyd encourage visitors to “keep a careful lookout for the garden statues hidden among the plants, and you might even spot a frog sunning itself on one of the rocks in the pond.”
Participants will also see a riverside retreat where eagles soar and wildlife roam; Meadows of colorful wildflowers, flowering shrubs, an ancient hinoki cypress, a graceful Japanese maple and a magnolia tree planted to celebrate the birth of a grandchild who is now 30 years old.
“Very few people see our home, yard and gardens – but to us they are an extension of who we are and a place we cherish,” said Mary Lee Kennefick, whose garden on Poore House Lane is part of the tour.
If, as the Belarusian-French painter Marc Chagall once said, “great art begins where nature ends,” then combining these meticulously tended gardens with examples of fine and performing arts seems like a brilliant idea. In addition to chirping birds and busy, buzzing bees, a selection of artificial melodies greets visitors to each property.
Beverly’s “Colorado” Bob Kramer will perform his rooty, bluesy rock ‘n’ roll, while Amesbury singer-songwriter Jeff Bullis will channel the likes of Bob Dylan, Jerry Garcia and John Prine.
Other artists include Joe Casey, who has played in his hometown’s popular Thomas Machine Works Band for 26 years; guitarist David Danis, whose day job is a doctor at North Shore Pediatrics; and Ric Page and Robin Bornstein of the duo Dodging Frogs. Also Alicia Robinson Gellen, Carolyn R. Russell and Becc O’Brien – who were bonded through friendship, motherhood and music to form the band Triquetra.
Several musicians from Pentucket Regional High School also participate: French horn player and trumpeter Lillian Friend, a sophomore; juniors Julia Spaulding – who plays multiple woodwinds – and violinist Owen Tedeschi; and graduating as Senior Spencer Magan on trumpet.
In addition to Pullman, whose artwork is featured in private collections locally, nationally and internationally, other visual artists exhibiting and creating at Art in the Garden include oil painter Ted Baker; Megan Chiango, who has exhibited at various galleries across the country; photographer and painter Sue Delaney; and potter Patti Jones.
Also, Newburyport artist Kristen Kyle, whose work has been exhibited throughout New England and Brooklyn, New York; award-winning artist, designer and illustrator Grace Marchese, who owns Studio 50 Salisbury; Pat Mayo, a potter who trained at Purple Sage Pottery in Merrimac; and award-winning Amesbury painter Erica Nazzaro, who has exhibited in Boston, at Art Basel in Miami, as well as in Cuba and Italy.
Tina Rawson took up painting during the pandemic lockdown, while artisan Melissa Witherspoon creates eco-friendly pieces out of gold and silver. Susan Dougherty, Louis Gippetti, Cynthia Keefe are also listed as participating artists.
With a hat to Mother Nature, Art in the Garden offers the community a celebration of creativity in many of its diverse forms.
“For me, gardening is both therapy and artistic expression,” says Marie Hoffman, whose Old Wharf Lane property is part of the tour.
“Like children, I nurture and wait with no anticipation, so any sign of growth comes as a pleasant surprise,” she said. “Both the challenge and the reward is that the gardens are never finished; the screen is always waiting.”
Tickets are $20, free for 17 years old and under. Tickets can be purchased at West Newbury Food Mart, 275 Main St. through Friday; GAR Memorial Library, Hauptstr. 490; Haverhill Bank, 281 Main St., and the Old City Hall, 491 Main St.
Visit www.wngc.org for more information.