Civic’s annual Garden Tours to add ‘cultural flavor’ in Malverne

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To showcase the beauty of the village’s backyard gardens, the Malverne Civic Association is welcoming back its annual garden Garden Tours this summer.

The tours, originally run by the Malverne Merchants, went on hiatus after the last tour in 2009. Now, with the village’s encouragement, the tours are set to return on June 23.

“The community really misses it. I always hear how they loved going,” said Kathi Monroe, the civic association’s vice president. “And it’s an opportunity to bring our neighbors out, add to the cultural flavor of the village and raise awareness of the association.”

The association, run by seven women, promotes the quality of life for the community and helps further other institutions in the village, such as political or volunteer groups.

“We hope to bring people to Malverne so they can see what a beautiful village it is,” said Toni Sussman, a civic association trustee and a homeowner of a garden on display. “It’s still one of the only tiny villages on the South Shore, but it’s really tight-knit and just a beautiful community.”

In previous years, people have come all the way from Staten Island to see “The Hidden Gardens of Malverne,” as the tours were once dubbed.

Currently, there are eight houses scheduled on the tour. “Each is really different and really special,” Sussman said.

At the village’s June 6 board meeting, Sussman said that Malverne held a similar garden contest in 1916.

Frank Chiachiere, whose home was in the civic association’s tour in previous years, said he spends hours every day in his garden.

“There’s a tremendous amount of work and pride for it,” he said, adding that this event offers a chance to show off that effort, especially since the long winter impacted gardens heavily. Chiachiere lost thousands of dollars of valuable plants because of the low temperatures and strong winds. He eliminated damage daily, using special, organic oils to smother the larvae of pests before they became an issue. He said that organic farming helps protect other wildlife in his garden such as birds and friendly insects.

“It’s a labor of love,” said Chiachiere, who is thrilled that the tour is back. “You don’t just send anyone out there to take care of hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of plants.”

The tour, which will take place on June 23 from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m., will kick off at Crossroads Farm, where each visitor will be given a brochure with a map and descriptions of all the houses. The tour is self-guided, giving visitors time to enjoy each house and the freedom to go in any order they want, according to Sussman. The tour will end at the farm, where refreshments will be served. Sussman called it the “Garden Tea Party.”

“It’s a very nice thing for the village,” said Mary Stamm, another gardener whose house is on the tour. “It’s a chance to meet neighbors, and it’d be nice if it developed into a garden club.” She also said that gardening is contagious, and the tour might influence village residents to plant themselves.

Civic association members hope that the Garden Tours will also encourage more residents to become involved with the group’s activities. Sussman said that the group is already “so thankful for the support of Mayor [Patti Ann] McDonald and the board of trustees. We’re very fortunate.”

The civic association agreed that events like this show the strong sense of community within Malverne, as well as featuring its hidden treasures.

For tickets and more information on the Garden Tours, go to www.malvernecivic.com/gardentour.