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Croton Garden Tour Satisfies Neighborly Curiosity

CROTON-ON-HUDSON, N.Y. - In less than one week participants in the Croton Arboretum's 16th annual garden tour will visit small village garden plots and estates with expansive vistas of the Hudson River.

The event provides about three-quarters of the arboretum's annual operating budget, and organizers say a neighborly and natural curiosity is the driver for its success.

"It's not a novel idea," said Laura Seitz, one co-chair who organizes the garden tour, about the fund-raising method. "People were interested in other people's property. Wouldn't you like to see all behind the stone walls on Albany Post Road? Or somebody who's known to have a particularly beautiful view of the Hudson?" she asked.

The hardest part of organizing the garden tour, says Seitz, is finding people willing to show their gardens. Almost certainly, all showing their gardens would like them to be in tip-top shape for the tour, but some go to great lengths to ensure it.

One woman, said Seitz, had some of her flowers eaten by deer two nights before the tour, and forced her husband to sleep in the garden the next two nights to ensure the plants' safety.

The stress of going to self-imposed great lengths, said Seitz, makes it hard to find people willing to show their gardens, despite that, there's no shortage of bucolic scenery in the Croton and Ossining area.

Participants in the tour will be treated to a several gardens, including two village plots side-by-side, to show the varied results which can be achieved in small yards. Also on the tour is a one-acre garden of a professional horticulturist, a striking modern home surrounded by rocks, paths, terraces and a steam-bed, where perennials emerge from area of naturally occurring water-loving plants. An ivy-covered older home with a Hudson River view and the Methodist Campwoods Ground in Ossining are also on the tour.

The Campwoods Grounds are the site of small gingerbread summer cottages into year-round homes, and a communal vegetable garden.

The garden tour is July 15, from 12 p.m. to 5 p.m. Participants will also be privy to a semi-private plant sale after the tour. The tour is limited to 200 participants, tickets are $20, or $35 for two, in advance. Call Carol Shanesy, (914) 271-7645, or Laura Seitz, (914) 271-3265 to order tickets in advance, or purchase them the day of the event at St. Augustine's Episcopal Church in Croton, from 12:15 p.m. to 3:30 p.m.

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