Marking a milestone: 30th annual Garden Tour is June 24-25

It’s a year of milestones for the Grosse Pointe Garden Center, which hosts its 30th annual Garden Tour, “Grow Green for Earth’s Sake,” from 10 am to 4 pm Friday and Saturday, June 24 and 25.
Seven specially selected gardens in the Grosse Pointes will welcome guests, as will the Trial Garden — celebrating 70 years — and the Veterans Garden — celebrating 10 years — at The War Memorial.
“We are pleased to announce that seven gardens will be featured on this special tour, which includes many native plants, interesting landscapes, hardscapes, a variety of ponds, different composting areas, raised garden beds of vegetables, one garden with plants from around the world and another where the homeowner is working on replacing her lawn with micro-clover,” co-chair Kathy Brown said. “These gardens are distinctly unique.”

Photos by Renee Landuyt
A portion of the organic vegetable garden grown by Adrianna Birnbaum on Doyle Court.

Among them is the organic garden at Adrianna Birnbaum’s Grosse Pointe Woods home. She and her husband moved to Doyle Court five years ago and found just two small raised beds in the corner of their backyard; they weren’t enough.
“I’m from Vermont,” she said. “I was feeling so disconnected from nature, from farmers markets and growing food, so I decided to try to grow as much food as possible.”

The organic garden on Doyle Court includes a black tomato.

The couple designed several new beds, which encompass much of the rear yard and yield varieties of vegetables, herbs and edible flowers.
“We’re trying to create a suburban homestead of sorts,” Birnbaum said. “… Ideally, I’d like to remove the shrubs and do all edible landscaping.”
In addition to help from her husband, Birnbaum’s pet rabbits, Carmelo and Bella, have a hand in the gardening process.
“They work as our compost system,” she said. “They eat a lot of the greens and we use their manure in our beds as fertilizer.”
While most of the daily harvests are enjoyed fresh, many summer favorites are set aside for preserving by pickling, canning, freezing or dehydrating for the winter months.
Birnbaum also creates skin care products using the plants in her garden. For example, she uses pollen from calendula plants to make a salve to soothe inflamed skin, burns or rashes. During the garden walk, she’ll discuss the use of herbs in such creams, as well as demonstrate how to make herbal butter using culinary herbs.
“We’ve been looking for a garden like this,” Kathy Brown said. “We’ve had gardens with small sections of vegetables, but with the drive for growing your own food, this is exactly what we’ve been looking for.”
Also at Birnbaum’s house, the Grosse Pointe Public Library will host a seed exchange and the Ecology Center will host an informational table.
Education is part of the Grosse Pointe Garden Center’s mission, co-chair Ginny Brown said. The third annual Enrichment Series follows the theme “Creatures of the Night,” and focuses on bats and moths.
At the Ficarra-Chalker garden on Torrey Road in Grosse Pointe Woods, guests will learn about the benefits of bats and moths, and children will make origami bats to take home.
The Torrey Road house will also host the Garden Shoppe.
“At this year’s Garden Shoppe, we’ll be selling native plants and other cute gardening items,” Ginny Brown said.
The Enrichment Series continues in Steve Hansen’s garden on Stephens Road in Grosse Pointe Farms. Guests there will learn about the life cycles and benefits of frogs and toads, as well as how to install and maintain a pond. Children will decorate a “toad abode” to take home.

A dipping pool creates a tranquil space in the backyard on Touraine.

Additionally, the yard will host a Michigan State University Extension Master Gardener information table and provide complimentary refreshments. Complimentary refreshments also will be available at the Lacerna garden on Touraine Road in Grosse Pointe Farms.
Joe Lacerna has lived in the historic Tudor four years. The previous owner was former Grosse Pointe Garden Center President Mary Northcutt, who was known for her gardening prowess and knowledge of herbs. She passed away in 2016.
“She had a massive perennial garden,” Lacerna said. “When we moved in, the yard had been uncared for for seven or eight years; everything had gone wild. I observed it for a year — and weeded.”

Photos by Renee Landuyt
A peek at Joe Lacerna’s backyard through the door of his tool shed.

Then he got to work, lifting and emptying garden beds, tearing apart the front yard and installing a bluestone walkway, transplanting flowers from the back to the front yard to give it an English cottage feel, adding ground cover and planting 1,400 bulbs, among other tasks.
Lacerna retained much of the former Northcutt garden, but added a great deal of his own touch. A natural green thumb, he’s been gardening since childhood.
“Even when I lived in apartments, I had window boxes and fire escape gardens,” he said.
His current project, which features a tea garden among other interesting nooks, is well worth the effort, he said.
“I love the cycle. I love being able to watch it, from winter all the way through fall, and see a constant wave. There’s always something blooming. There’s always something extremely fragrant blooming throughout the year.”
Also on the tour this year is the yard of Grosse Pointe Garden Club member Janet Dettloff and her husband, Daniel Barrett. Their garden on Devonshire in Grosse Pointe Park includes a smattering of red blooms to attract hummingbirds, as well as a collection of birdhouses and other eye-pleasing tokens. The focal point is a perennial garden featuring a large trellis, stone paths and a fountain perched among an assortment of plants that attract birds, bees and butterflies.
Private gardens on the tour are rounded out by the Paquette garden on Balfour in Grosse Pointe Park and the Bonahoom garden on Country Club Drive in Grosse Pointe Farms.
Like past events, artists will paint in the gardens and docents will be present to answer questions.

This eye-catching perennial garden can be found on Devonshire.

This year’s walk also features a raffle with prizes including a Garden Night Creatures gift basket from Wild Birds, valued at $155; a Lake St. Clair wood inlay serving tray, valued at $180; a Waterford Crystal Lismore pattern serving dish, valued at $225; “Gather in the Garden,” a watercolor painting by Lisa F. Chalker, valued at $374;

A section of the garden on Devonshire in Grosse Pointe Park.

and “Just Because,” a watercolor painting by Robert Fionda, valued at $400.
Raffle tickets are $5 each or three for $10. Only 500 tickets will be sold. The drawing takes place at 4 pm Saturday, June 25, at 1399 Torrey, Grosse Pointe Woods. Winners need not be present to win.
Tickets for the garden walk are $15 in advance, $20 the days of the tour. They may be purchased online at and picked up the days of the tour at The War Memorial, 32 Lakeshore, Grosse Pointe Farms.
“I love doing this to have people see what they can do in their own gardens,” Ginny Brown said.
In keeping with this year’s theme, “Grow Green for Earth’s Sake,” she added, “You can see that you can grow a garden and keep plants without using pesticides.”
It’s not too early to be considered for next year’s event, she noted. Those interested in having their gardens considered for 2023 should call (313) 499-0743 or email

Sean Cotton, Owner & Publisher
Jody McVeigh, Editor in chief

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