Tour to show off back alleys of Shepherdstown

June 10, 1999

Backyard gardenBy DAVE McMILLION / Staff Writer, Charles Town

photos: KEVIN G. GILBERT / staff photographer

SHEPHERDSTOWN, W.Va. - Shepherdstown is known for its bustling college community and quaint setting, but come June 19 the public can get a glimpse of the town they rarely see.

That day, 23 gardens outside private homes in town will be on display.

Many of the gardens will be along Back Alley, thus the name "The Back Alleys Tour."

But the fact is, there are attractive gardens all over town, said Alice Van Tol, one of the organizers.

The tour will split off from Back Alley at times, going through such gardens as that of well-known local designer Keith Knost.

Knost's neatly manicured back door garden, behind his house along Princess Street, mixes ornamental water fountains, English boxwoods and green and white flowers to create a cool, inviting atmosphere.


Knost has entertained friends in the garden for years. He said he often stretches white fabric over the entire area at night and lights candles underneath for a striking effect.

Garden"It's kind of an extension of a living room," said Knost.

Up the street at the Village Green, owner Jan Bender will open the garden behind her shop for public viewing.

People are able to catch a glimpse of Bender's garden as they shop. A door from her boutique leads outside so customers can enjoy the atmosphere.

"We put a lot of men out here to read papers while women shop," Bender said.

People on the tour will see Bender's latest creation, a human figurine made out of clay pots. The pots are wired together to form arms, legs and head, and plants stick out at various points.

"We've named him Pottington," Bender said.

Van Tol said she and Bender got the idea for the tour last year. The two talked about how much work local residents put into their gardens and agreed they are an asset on which the town should capitalize.

Van Tol said the tour is an opportunity to "really see what Shepherdstown is all about."

For $12, participants can take the tour, have high tea at Trinity Episcopal Church at German and Church streets and hear a lecture from Sherry Mitchell, a Washington, D.C., author who has published two books on gardening.

Mitchell, who wrote "Creating Sanctuary, A New Approach to Gardening in the Washington Metropolitan Area," asks gardeners to consider wildlife that is being displaced by rapid development.

She says good landscape design can attract wildlife if it is done properly, and homeowners don't have to revert to waist-high meadows get the desired effect.

Mitchell will give a slide-illustrated lecture at 1 p.m. at the Men's Club.

Tour participants can get a $12 ticket for all three events or pay $6 for the tour, $3 for the lecture or $3 for the tea.

Proceeds go to the Shepherdstown Public Library and the Shepherdstown Visitors Center.

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