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Get an early start on summer at U.P. garden tours

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While the summer solstice might not be until June, those interested in kicking off the summer anyway have a much earlier opportunity. The University Place Historical Society is putting on a “Spring into Summer” tour of notable University Place Gardens from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. on May 21 and 22. The tour, which is in its sixth year, will encompass five gardens. As Karen Benveniste of the Historical Society said of the tour, “We’re excited about the variety of gardens attendees will see.”

Of the five gardens, two were created by Master Gardeners, individuals with extensive horticultural training who work with communities. A particularly inventive garden, created from “nothing,” is on the list, and owned by the U.P. Park Commissioner, as well as a Japanese garden and a horse ranch. Those more interested in local history than floriculture and foliage can rest assured, as “Elements of U.P. history can also be found in all five gardens,” according to Benveniste. One garden also contains a collection of restored 20th century automobiles.

Tickets for the tour are available now at Willow Tree Gardens and Interior, Grassi’s Boutique, Portland Avenue Nursery and Chirp & Company. They are $20 each and can also be purchased at the Curran House the day of the event. Located at the Curran Apple Orchard Park, the Curran House is the desired location of a permanent history museum for the community. The 1955 building is listed on both the state and national heritage registers and is being restored by the University Place Historical Society, after they signed a five-year management lease in April 2014. The garden tours were originally envisioned as revenue generators for this purpose, and funds from this year’s tour will be used to help the restoration efforts, as has been done with the money raised from tours in past years.

“Tour attendees will be able to see the restoration progress that the UPHS has made, and to see also what still needs to be accomplished,” Benveniste added. A $2,500 grant for new windows for the house has recently been contributed from KeyBank to add to the restoration project.

The museum is currently housed in Windmill Village, building D-2-3, and is open the first Saturday of every month. For more information about the University Place Historical Society, the garden tour, or if you’re interested in having your garden featured in the 2017 tour, visit the Historical Society’s website at

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