Historic Fourth Ward’s spring garden tour returns.
by Page Leggett • photographs by Austin Caine
The news release for this year’s “Secret Gardens of Fourth Ward” tour promises gardens from “the micro to the magnificent.”
If you’re familiar with the historic district, you can imagine micro. The uptown enclave is dotted with condos, townhomes and Victorians with small spaces — patios, terraces, a patch of green by the driveway — that many residents have turned into outdoor oases.
But, just how magnificent are we talking? The Phillips garden on 9th Street more than qualifies, says Heath Knott, a longtime Fourth Ward resident and chair of this year’s tour.
“The parents [of a Fourth Ward couple] bought the house next door and tied both properties together with one big backyard,” Knott says. “There’s a pool, a Jacuzzi, an outdoor fireplace, among other things. The parents have a screened porch on the back of their house with an outdoor fireplace positioned so they have privacy. Everyone can socialize in the sort-of shared backyard, but there are unique, tiny, private spaces, as well.”
After skipping the tour in 2020 due to the pandemic, Fourth Ward residents are especially eager to welcome visitors back to the neighborhood.
“Spring is here, and everybody’s a little more confident about getting out,” Knott says. The tour is entirely outdoors, and organizers will adhere to state guidelines and restrictions. Besides gardens, ticket holders can enjoy complimentary food and beverage tastings (while they last) in gardens and restaurants along the route, including freshly shucked oysters from Sea Level.
The private gardens are truly “secret” (hence, the tour’s name), but there are public spaces on the tour, too. Docents will lead tours of historic Elmwood/Pinewood Cemetery at 3 p.m. both days.
Knott’s own townhouse — which has been on previous tours but is not on this year’s — proves you can turn a small space into a wonderland. “We have our upper-level back courtyard, a small front courtyard, a bigger one in the rear and a koi pond water feature [that] allows us to grow plants in water.”
In Fourth Ward, even the micro is magnificent. SP
Fourth Ward in bloom. Tour the “Secret Gardens of Fourth Ward” May 22 and 23 from noon to 4 p.m. Tickets can be purchased online at fourthwardclt.org. During tour hours, ticket holders can pick up guidebooks at the booth at the corner of 9th and Poplar streets. Tour organizers expect tickets to sell out in advance.