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Elizabeth River Garden Club offering tour of Portsmouth

The Elizabeth River Garden Club, which coordinated with the Nansemond River Garden Club last year, is offering a tour of Portsmouth homes and gardens from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday, April 22. It also includes the Hoffler Creek Wildlife Preserve, which borders north Suffolk.

The theme for this event is Celebrating Earth Day n A Walk on the Wild Side. Because the tour falls on the environmental-friendly day, much of the tour focuses on conservation, said Claire Skillen, Elizabeth River Garden Club member.

“I think people are going to like it,” she said.

Following is a list and description of tour stops.

Hatton Point/River Shore/Hoffler Creek: This portion of old Norfolk County is rich with history of the Churchland truck farms, where farmers shipped out their produce on trucks throughout the Eastern Seaboard.

The home of Mr. and Mrs. Warren Buck Wheeler Jr., 4268 Hatton Point Lane: This one-story condominium on the banks of the Elizabeth River features a collection of Roseville pottery and wraparound terrace, where the owners enjoy bountiful container gardens and colorful sunsets.

The home of Mrs. Fay I. Carr, 4295 Hatton Point Lane: With wide views of the Elizabeth River, this 24-year-old townhouse features a glass conservatory overlooking the river. The Elizabeth River Project, an organization devoted to the restoration of the river, will have volunteers in the backyard with information on the health of the river and its “critters”.

The home of Mr. and Mrs. Charles L. Marcus, 3709 Shoreline Dr.: This 1964 Dutch Colonial features a greenhouse, and wide borders along the sides and rear of the property are planted with a varied collection of perennials, annuals and shrubs.

The home of Dr. and Mrs. James V. Cornetta, 4420 N. Carlton Court: This Colonial style brick home sits on the Elizabeth River. The Chesapeake Bay Foundation will feature a seed oyster restoration project demonstration in the backyard near the river at this home.

The home of Greg McCaulley, 5001 Dogwood Trail: This 48-year-old brick ranch has a garden with a large brick patio and over 180 English boxwoods from the Governor’s Mansion in Richmond.

The home of Randi and Ray Strutton, 4704 River Shore Road:

Because it abuts the Hoffler Creek Wildlife Preserve, the Struttons designed their garden to extend the natural, untamed feel of the wildlife preserve into their backyard. Plant material has been selected for its deer repellant qualities, and hydrangeas, butterfly bushes, lilacs and large perennial borders dot the landscape. A 100-year-old oak tree and a naturalistic goldfish pond with a trickling fountain take center stage. A Master Gardener will be in this garden with advice about deer resistant plants, and how to attract birds and butterflies to your garden.

The home of Mr. and Mrs. Marshall B. Jackson, 4723 River Shore Road: This garden on a bluff overlooking Hampton Roads and Craney Island features mature hardwood trees, great swaths of azaleas and spring blooming bulbs. The rear garden overlooks the Middle Ground Lighthouse and features a collection of colorful tulips, daffodils and other spring blooming bulbs.

The home of Dr. and Mrs. Paul J. Kovalcik, 4762 River Shore Road: This

Colonial has an English cottage style garden. On this half acre site, beside two trees from the original Ballard estate, the owners grow peach and apple trees, scuppernong grapes, dozens of spring blooming bulbs and a tapestry of perennials in beds of mixed plantings.

Hoffler Creek Wildlife Preserve, 4510 Twin Pines Road, Woodside Lane: The Preserve is a 142-acre urban wilderness for wildlife displaced by suburban development. Public amenities include an education pavilion, an oyster restoration pier, a wetlands observation deck, three bird blinds and four interpretive hiking trails.

Signs interpret sustainable design and technologies demonstrated at the preserve, including pervious surfaces, rain collection and solar power. Golf carts are available to assist those who wish to explore the center.

Speakers at the Preserve: Vicki Shufer, a nationally known Naturalist and edible and medicinal plants expert at 10 a.m., Linda Pinkham, “Native Plants for Landscaping” at 2 p.m. Linda is a nationally known horticulturist and former owner of Smithfield Gardens Nursery.

Churchland Baptist Church on the corner of Towne Point Road and Churchland Boulevard will host a luncheon 11:30 a.m. to 2 p.m.

The church sanctuary will be open to visitors to tour its stained glass windows. Send a $10 check for advanced reservations before April 14 to: ERGC, P.O. Box 7923, Portsmouth, VA

23707. Reservations contact is Fran Ossman (757) 483-4422.

Light refreshments will be served at the Hoffler Creek Wildlife Center.

Tickets for the tour are $20, single-site admission, $8. Children 13 and older, full price; ages 6-12, half price, ages 5 and under are free of charge.

Tickets may be purchased on tour day at any of the houses open for the tour or in advance through the ticket chairman, Vivian May, at 238-9654 or vivimaymay@aol.com.

To buy tickets online, visit www.VAGardenweek.org.