By Susan Mikula Campbell
Vendors of everything - for gardening, master gardeners providing expert advice, and butterflies - will make Center Street bloom the weekend of June 17-18 as the Lewiston Garden Club presents its 12th annual GardenFest.
In addition, seven private and six public gardens in the area will be open for public viewing.
Festival hours will be 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.
It's been 90 years since the club first started serving Lewiston. Back then, from what can be discovered in archives, Catherine and Herbert E. Vaughn were listed as the club's president.
Today's 46 active members are all women. Husbands are jokingly referred to as the men's auxiliary; helping where needed, according to GardenFest chairwoman Doreen Albee. Last year, her husband, Bob, drove a golf cart up and down Center Street delivering supplies for the festival. This year, he plans to be one of the volunteers working as garden sitters at the open gardens.
Club President Marianne Gittermann's husband, Keith, again will set up from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. both days at Hennepin Park, Center and Fourth streets, to teach children and adults to make fern and leaf prints.
Female members who are in town will staff the information booths located at each end of the area of Center Street to be closed for the festival -- Fourth and Center to Seventh and Center streets -- where visitors can pick up a map and list of gardens with hours they will be open to the public on either day.
Some husbands do actual gardening at home; others not so much.
"She's the green thumb. I try to stay out of it," Bob Albee said.
Gardeners Marianne and Keith Gittermann collect hostas, seeking out new varieties in size, coloring and design each year. Many have been purchased at the festival.
"He's the perfectionist," said Marianne, who admitted she has a bad habit of pulling things out in the spring that aren't labeled and don't look familiar. The hostas used to be in the back yard. "I came home from work one day (she's the former head of the Lewiston Recreation Department), and found they had all been moved to the front yard."
Keith's garden, including a hosta that moved with them from Pennsylvania, now includes some 30 varieties of hostas. His front garden, ceded to him by his wife, will be open during the Open Garden Walk, decorated with several framed leaf prints.
The butterfly release will be part of the opening ceremonies at 10 a.m. Saturday at Hennepin Park. If the weather isn't good for butterflies, the release, but not the ceremony, will be at the same time Sunday.
The 2017 GardenFest speakers will be at a tent in front of the Frontier House.
Speaking on Saturday will be:
•11 a.m. - Sally Cunningham, garden writer, educator, and certified nursery and landscape professional, will discuss "The Transformational Power of Gardening," addressing critical roles that gardens are playing in urban as well as suburban areas.
•2 p.m. - David R. Clark, horticulture instructor, florist, gardening expert, and certified nursery and landscape professional, will do a "Floral Design Presentation," creating a floral arrangement using plant material available to Western New York gardeners.
Speaking Sunday will be:
•2 p.m. - David O'Donnell, founder of the Eastern Monarch Butterfly Farm in Clarence, speaking on "Restoring the Depleting Monarch Butterfly Population to the WNY Region." He will offer suggestions for gardening with native plants to attract butterflies and help one learn more about butterflies and planting sustainable native butterfly gardens.
Attendees may also participate in a container garden contest for prizes.
New this year is a window display contest for Lewiston businesses, with a theme of "Celebrating 90 Years and Growing."
The open gardens tour will include a special opportunity to learn more about the Stella Niagara Preserve from noon to 2 p.m. Saturday when the Western New York Land Conservancy opens the Stella Preserve on Lower River Road. Staff will be at the chapel by the river and will open the chapel for viewing.
Garden tours, workshops, demonstrations and speakers are all free.
Vendors will sell flowers, plants, garden art and other items to beautify outdoor space.
Proceeds from Lewiston GardenFest are used by the Lewiston Garden Club for civic beautification and scholarships.
For more information, to volunteer to help at GardenFest, or to join the club, visit www.lewistongardenfest.com
or call 716-634-2447.