Landscape architect Marianne Mumford befriended Kathleen Waring when their daughters ended up on the same baseball team 10 years ago. After Waring's daughter suffered a severe traumatic brain injury, the friends thought of ways to help brain injury survivors and their loved ones. "At the time, there weren't any resources," Mumford says. "(Kathleen) was blazing the trail. We decided to get together, and the only way I know to make money is through gardening events. So I thought to put together a garden tour."
Since its inaugural event in 2004, the Secret Gardens Tour has benefited a number of brain injury survivors by providing them with programming, funds and other resources. "This New Orleans-based fundraiser assists people around the entire state who might need a little extra help with medical needs, transportation, respite care, or education in living with their brain injury or that of a loved one. Out sincere and heartfelt thanks..." says a testimony on the Secret Gardens Tour website.
Mumford, co-chair of the event along with Waring, says the 10 gardens she selected for the tour demonstrate a variety of styles. "We have everything from small gardens to wild gardens, from formal gardens to really large gardens, and they're designed by different landscape architects. And we have a garden by someone who does it themselves - they're not all professional gardens. We've also set up a temporary labyrinth made of flowers."
Tours take place from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. Friday, March 25 and 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday, March 26. Tickets for Friday tours, which are led by landscape professionals, cost $60, and tickets for Saturday’s self-guided tours are $25. Mumford says participants can expect live music by harpists and other musicians from New Orleans Center for Creative Arts, jewelry and art merchants and food sampling during the tour, which lasts one hour and 45 minutes. She hopes everyone can find inspiration for their own home gardens on the tour, whether or not they have the means to hire landscape architects. "If you pick up a small idea from a garden, that's what is so much fun about it," Mumford says. "(Taking the tour) helps with determining what style you like. It helps people figure out what direction they want to move in. I believe in people walking away with ideas."
In addition to the resource guide they put together for brain injury survivors, Mumford and Waring hope to one day fund a public garden. In the meantime, Waring is helping her daughter, who will soon graduate from high school, in her college search. "It is truly a miracle," Mumford says of the girl's recovery.
Call 838-3098 or visit www.secretgardenstour.org to buy tickets