Pocket Gardens of Portsmouth – June 2022

Perhaps no one could choose a less likely activity for me on a beautiful sunny summer Saturday than to go explore gardens in people’s yards.  When it comes to plants, I have been proven ignorant, unimaginative, and deadly.  Plants consider our yard like hospice.  So we ignored our own experience and enjoyed others!

This was the 33rd annual Pocket Gardens of Portsmouth tour.  Sponsored by the South Church in Portsmouth (NH), this self-guided tour of 13 home gardens included musicians and artists at various homes, educators at other locations to inform you if you desired to be informed, and volunteers at each location to assist and inform.  Thank you all!

This tour of home gardens was amazing.  Even for someone like me with zero creative juices, I was amazed at the design, originality, colors, and variety of plants that people use to decorate and enjoy their private spaces – typically in their back yard, but also their side and front spaces.  Thank you to the homeowners who opened their gardens to all of us!

This walking tour of perhaps a mile or two around downtown Portsmouth provided insight into the gardens kept by various homeowners in this very historic town.  Many of these homes were circa 1800’s, although the town is much older (founded in 1630).

If you are in any way familiar with Portsmouth (or any old New England city), downtown homes are traditionally built a) close to the roads with very little (if any) front yard, b) are built tightly next to each other, and c) offer no clear visibility into their back yards when driving or walking by.  These facts make it all the more amazing what people can do with limited space and a little (OK, a lot) of gardening imagination and expertise.

Starting at the John Paul Jones house (you may remember the Scottish-American naval commander famous for the line “I have not yet begun to fight”), the tour continues in a large circuit around the area.  As mentioned, there were 13 specific home gardens opened for viewing, although there were many more homes along this walking path that were certainly beautiful to see what we could from the sidewalk.

Wandering around the streets of Portsmouth offers many beautiful (and historically significant) sights.  This is truly a great town – very small, walkable, interesting, and beautiful.

I mentioned the John Paul Jones house, but there was also the Rundlet-May house (1807) on the tour, which was a federal style mansion built for one of the wealthier merchants – replete with an enormous carriage house.  And a pet cemetery.  Today it is a museum, but you can imagine it back in the day.

Enjoy a little bit of our wanderings around Portsmouth and the Pocket Gardens of Portsmouth!

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