ROCKPORT— The Rockport in Bloom garden tour, organized by the Rockport Garden Club, anticipates banner attendance this year.

The self-guided tour consists of more than a dozen private gardens that showcase the diverse geography of Rockport, from ocean vistas and rocky terrain to smaller quaint gardens. Lunch is available for purchase at a seaside location.

In addition to the gardens bursting with color, tour goers will experience the third year that Cape Ann artists will plant themselves in the gardens on tour where they will paint the lush scenes.

Tour this year are Friday, July 26, and Saturday, July 27, from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. on both days.

When the tour ends on Saturday, there is a free reception and exhibit of the artworks from 4:30 to 7:30 p.m. at the Rockport Community House.

The 18 participating artists are Susan Lynn, Dan DeLouise, Pamela Pindell, Rosemary Sullivan, Joan Bediz, Kathleen Miller, Cynthia Dunaway, Kathy Roberts, Ronald Quinn, Melody Phaneuf, Susan Drennan, Janet Merriman, Leigh Slingluff, Mary Rose O’Connell, Pamela Hibbard Giarratana, Robin Davis, Sharon Bahosh and Lynn Wrona.

For more than a decade, Rockport residents have opened their gardens to the public via the Rockport in Bloom Garden Tour, noted Carol Delaney, a Rockport Garden Club member.

“Since it was established in 1928, the Rockport Garden Club has shared gardenscapes among its members," she said. "Then the club decided to invite the world to see Rockport’s garden beauty with their first tour in 2008."

Ticket sales and sponsorship support the Rockport Garden Club’s many philanthropic missions, including the care of 13 town gardens that it tends.

In regards to the Rockport in Bloom tour, Tour Chair Kerry O’Donnell said the gardens are preened and await visitors.

“We have many diverse gardens that are lovingly tended,” she said. “We moved the date of the tour this year so attendees can experience Rockport’s beautiful gardens at their peak of summer beauty.”

The tour is coordinated with town services and many sponsors in town donated advertising to the descriptive Garden Tour Book, which is the ticket to view the gardens

Michela Tobin, a tour co-chair, said the event has received more support from town merchants and corporate sponsors than ever before. 

Rockport Selectman Don Campbell applauded the group's efforts.

"The Rockport Garden Club's events have become local staples and are looked forward to by novice and expert gardeners alike," Campbell said. "The garden club also oversees the meticulous care and planning of some of Rockport’s most beautiful assets. They have put their knowledge and understanding of sustainable seaside horticulture to work and it shows."

The tour has brought as many as 800 visitors to Rockport for the weekend, and many are repeat visitors. When the club surveyed attendees in 2017, they learned that 85 percent expected to return.

One respondent wrote: "We really enjoy the Rockport tours, love the scenery, friendly people and beautiful gardens. We have been coming to the tour for many years.”

Gail McCarthy can be reached at 978-675-2706, or at gmccarthy@gloucestertimes.com.

IF YOU GO

What: Rockport in Bloom, a self-guided garden tour, held rain or shine, consists of more than a dozen private gardens in Rockport. Lunch is available for purchase at a seaside location.

When: Friday, July 26, and Saturday, July 27, from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.

How much: $30 in advance at www.rockportgardenclub.org, or on tour days, at the Rockport Police Station, 168 Main St. Advance tickets  may be picked up at the police station on tour days.

Extra: A free reception and exhibit of the artworks painted at the gardens during the two-day tour takes place Saturday, July 27, from 4:30 to 7:30 p.m. at the Rockport Community House, 58 Broadway.