Moonbeams will be the backdrop for the 14th annual Northland Garden Club tour this year.
Rather than the usual daytime garden tours, this year’s events will begin as dusk descends and end by the light of the moon.
Three Friday night tours are planned for July, August and September to coincide as close as possible to full moons during those months.
Adding solar lights, luminaries, candles, tiki torches and landscape lighting “extends gardening hours spent as labor — for the gardeners — or as leisure for the visitors,” said Dee West, president of the Northland Garden Club.
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Sponsoring a series of garden tours rather than offering them all on the same day is new this year, and West thinks the moonlit gardens may attract new tourists who come at the end of their workday or those who are innately night owls.
The tours will run from 8 to 10 p.m. on July 11, Aug. 8 and Sept. 12. Admission is $10 per tour and reservations must be made in advance.
July 11: Garden of David and Sharon Cleveland
“After 15 years of vivid, tropical colors, we planted an all-white garden this year,” said Sharon Cleveland, 66, of Liberty.
The Clevelands dug up and gave away all their lilies, irises and other colorful perennials at at 1546 Ashton Drive and replaced them with shades of silver, cream and white in begonias, impatiens, geraniums, lamb’s ear plants, maiden grass, foxtail ferns and other foliage.
“Our plant palate has changed,” she explained. “An all-white garden is peaceful, serene and restful.”
Birch trees, spruce, a hydrangea tree, emerald green boxwoods, hostas and variegated shrubbery complement the shades of white.
Greeting visitors to the garden are statues of the Greek god Pan, a lawn jockey and the Bird Girl from “Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil.”
Aug. 8: Garden of Jacky and Kimberly Johnson
Kimberly Johnson took a whimsical approach to reviving the grounds and reinventing the gardens surrounding the house at 6139 N.W. Wales Road in Kansas City, North, that she and her husband, Jacky Johnson, bought in October 2012.
Much of the lawn was bare, gardens had been abandoned, a wooden shed perched precariously on the hillside and dead trees dotted the landscape.
“But I saw potential,” Johnson, 51, said.
A big rock berm was built in the front yard. Dead trees were removed and a tall stump near the curb became Treesa, a fanciful face fashioned from well-worn iron parts. A rusty skillet is Treesa’s nose; cogs and a bridle are her ears and earrings.
“I use a lot of antiques,” Johnson said.
Throughout her gardens, tourists will see old ladders, a bed frame, a milk can, a lawn mower, a plow, a porch swing and unidentifiable, repurposed props placed among the flowers, plants, bushes and trees.
In the backyard, Johnson and her husband had walls of limestone built, the hillside terraced and a pond with running water and water lilies installed. They replaced a chain-link fence with a cattle-panel fence. Now the Johnsons are building a log greenhouse from a kit they ordered.
Johnson added eight garden areas to the four already on the property. If tourists look closely, they’ll discover Treesa’s little friends — gnomes and fairies in their miniature garden homes.
Sept. 12: Garden of Dan and Marla Galetti
The last garden on the tour is the oldest, most established one, at the home of Dan and Marla Galetti in rural Platte County at at 5210 N. Helena Ave. Professional lighting provides subtle accents timed to lead visitors through the one-acre plot at night.
When the Galettis bought the house in 1979, a lone hosta grew on the grounds. Now, moonflowers climb skyward on trellises around the pool among some 200 different varieties of shrubs, trees, flowers and other plants.
The Galettis enjoy the gardens surrounding their stone house, especially at night when working in the garden comes to a halt and they sit outside under the stars, listening to the frogs croak and watching the flight of nocturnal sphinx moths.
“Night gardens are more relaxing and mysterious,” Marla Galetti, 59, said. “Things are revealed slower.”
The Galettis enjoy their garden so much that they could live outside if they wanted to — cooking on outdoor grills with access to a refrigerator, bathroom and other amenities of a cabana house.
Want to go?
The Northland Garden Club’s 2014 series of tours, “A Little Night Garden,” will run 8 to 10 on July 11, Aug. 8 and Sept. 12.
Tickets, which cost $10 per garden, can be purchased by the Monday before each tour by calling Dee West at 816-455-4013. Maps and directions will be provided, and the tours include non-alcoholic mint juleps.