ALAMEDA -- Alamedans pay lots of attention to their gardens, and the upcoming Garden Galore tour offers the community a behind-the-scenes look at six special green spaces on the Island.

This year, the 20th annual event will take place on May 18. It includes six gardens, as well as a crafts boutique near Saint Joseph Basilica, which hosts the annual affair.

"It's become a springtime tradition in Alameda," said Kitty Long, publicity chair for the event.

"People going on the self-guided tour get a box lunch and really enjoy themselves."

Many community members who join the tour are looking for ideas on how to spruce up their own garden, according to Long.

"People love to see pretty gardens, and the flowers are just gorgeous at this time of year," Long said.

The church's Garden Club was formed in 1992, and two years later, its members organized a garden tour.

"It became so popular that we've kept it going," Long said.

"The gardens are always beautiful, and there's something for everyone with small and large gardens, as well as cozy and opulent gardens, too," she said. "This year, there is one on the lagoon that is very different and was part of our original tour."

Some gardens have fountains, many include trees, shrubs and native plants, and all have colorful flowers, she added. This year's drought caused two participating gardeners to drop out a few months ago.


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"That was a worry, but we were able to replace them," Long said. "Now, many Alameda garden owners are interested in drought-tolerant plants."

A garden-tour boutique will be open from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. near the church. Handcrafted items for sale include jewelry, glassware and linens. In addition, there will be jams and jellies, as well as food items made by Bay Area chef Narsai Michael David.

"The vendors are very diverse, and they come back year after year with an eclectic mix of fun items and gifts," Long said.

The parish aims to sell more than 400 tickets, which can be bought in advance at Daisy's, 1347 Park St., and Thomsen's Garden Center, 1113 Lincoln Ave.

"It's a fun event and proceeds go to scholarship funds at St. Joseph Elementary and St. Joseph Notre Dame High School, so children can attend these schools," Long said.

if you go
What: St. Joseph Garden Tour and Boutique
When: 11 a.m. to 5 p.m., May 18
Where: 1011 Chestnut St.
Cost: $20 to $25 for tour; $10 for lunch