by Joanna Metheny
There is still time to snag tickets to the 2018 annual Ripon Garden Club September Stroll. This Saturday, Sept. 8th, the Ripon Garden Club’s beloved annual garden tour will run from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. The tour offers the public a rare opportunity to meander through some of Ripon’s loveliest backyards. Tickets are just $20 cash for adults, and $10 for kids, and can be purchased in town at Schemper’s, Silverado Nursery, and Park Greenhouse Garden Center, right up until the end of the tour. Those who really love to be spontaneous may also begin the tour with a friend, and then purchase at ticket at the first house they visit. Keep an eye open for the balloon festooned tables in front of each home.
The number of homes featured on the September Stroll varies each year between 6 and 8. This year, tour goers will have the chance to see 6 wildly different gardens. There is a good mix of both small and large yards, some with pools, and some without, some newer, and some long-established. Several showcase beautiful drought-tolerant landscapes. One of the homes on the tour is close to 100 years old, and features not only handcrafted items made by the owner, but also antiques sourced from downtown’s Magpie Antiques.
Homes for the tour are chosen by a committee of garden club members, and do not necessarily belong to members. With Ripon being a small town, and the club being relatively large (currently right around 85 members), committee members are well connected and dialed in on who has the best garden this season, or who just updated their yard. Some nominees come through word of mouth, and occasionally an individual will contact the club wanting their home to be featured.
Gardens for the tour are chosen in the springtime, in order to allow homeowners the chance to finish up any projects, and decide how to best showcase their yards. The club offers selected homeowners minor assistance, which can include help staging a yard, minor cosmetic changes, or even moral support. The club comes alongside the owners to help with any finishing touches required to truly make the gardens shine.
The final home on the tour each year serves as the location for a silent auction and raffle. The September Stroll baskets are well known in town, and always worth a bid. Some are put together by members, and some by generous donations from local Ripon small businesses. Past baskets have included everything from gift certificates for car washes and Austin’s Meat, to spa packages and private in-home, chef-made dinners. There will be complimentary light refreshments at the auction and raffle house. Remember to bring cash to enter the raffle.
Each year, the September Stroll is the Ripon Garden Club’s single largest fundraiser. Proceeds from ticket sales, brochure sponsors, the silent auction, and raffle all go towards funding the club’s philanthropic endeavors which include scholarships, the downtown flower planters, a butterfly garden at Stouffer Park, and local elementary school gardens. Last year, the September Stroll brought in just around $16k from all sources. About half the proceeds go to fund the scholarships, with the other half going to the downtown planter plants and maintenance, school gardens, and the Stouffer Park butterfly garden. Each year the Ripon Garden Club awards up to four college scholarships to local high school students. This year’s scholarship winners are Zachary Angel, Mallory Brenner, Megan Harlan, and Caleb Van Vliet.
Garden Club membership is open to anyone. Members don’t even have to have a garden of their own, just an interest in gardening, and some join solely for the community. The club meets on the first Wednesday of every month at the American Legion. Social hour starts at 10 am, and the meeting proper at 10:30. Members enjoy garden related conversation, excellent guest speakers, and plenty of trips to local garden-related spots. Annual dues are just $25.
About the author: For nearly a decade, Joanna Metheny has been a freelance writer specialized in the coverage of local topics and community interest stories. A Central Valley transplant and Bay Area native, Joanna permanently relocated to Ripon and hasn’t looked back once. She loves the city’s proud agricultural history and small town feel. Joanna enjoys spending her time in the community, tending her garden, and discovering local secrets along Ripon’s backroads.