Saturday, June 15, 2024 | 12-4pm

Rain Date: Sunday, June 16

This is your invitation to explore Cape May’s unique natural areas and the private landscape designs, plants and blooms of area gardeners. See both private and public gardens and take home ideas for your own garden on this self-guided tour. Smell and see what’s blooming and flourishing in several different seashore locations dominated by sunlight, ocean breezes, and sand and salt, each uniquely situated. Cape May’s Emlen Physick Estate gardens are included. The grounds of the Emlen Physick Estate, 1048 Washington St., will host local and regional vendors, including the Native Plant Society of New Jersey, plus a complimentary wine tasting by Cape May Winery. A trolley shuttle will be available noon-4pm.

This tour is self-guided.

Emlen Physick Estate ad

Properties on Tour June 15, 2024

The Clemans Residence
609 Seagrove Ave, Cape May Point

Begin at the Clemans’ sweeping grounds by entering through the spacious, light-filled gallery, featuring the private collection of Dave Clemans’ own oil paintings, many of which were inspired by the gardens and grounds. As you exit the gallery, pass a trellis of antique roses, as you wander down the brick pathway toward the pond which features blooming waterlilies and a dramatic Hakuro Nishiki willow overlooking the water. Delight in the perfume of more roses along the terrace as you make your way toward the Japanese-styled garden toward the end of the property. Before you exit, be  sure to peak into the sweet Starlight Cottage playhouse, created for the Clemans’ own grandchildren and great-grandchildren.

Brick paths meander among hostas, lariope, skimmia, nandina and boxwood.  A cryptomeria, or Japanese Temple tree, stands at the front corner of the property, as do three specimen “Harry Lauder’s Walking Sticks,” with their gnarled, twisted branches.

In the side yard, a fishpond and splashing fountain are focal points, along with a seating area and sundial. Vines grow over windows and pergolas in true “picturesque” fashion. A box garden at the rear contains herbs, daisies and rudbeckia.

The Greater Cape May Historical Society
Memucan Hughes Colonial House
653 1/2 Washington St.

he Greater Cape May Historical Society, steward of the Memucan Hughes Colonial House (circa 1730), is restoring the garden with authentic plants used for teas, cooking, and medicine to “cure the miseries.” The garden was researched and designed by the Garden Club of Cape May and among other flowers features yarrow, which contains flavonoids (plant-based chemicals to help improve digestion); chamomile, for chest colds, sore throat, anxiety, inflammation and abscesses; sage, a natural antibiotic, bactericidal, and antiseptic used for wound healing; and angelica “Wild Celery,” named “Herb of the Angels” after the archangel Michael, who supposedly visited a monk to inform him that this botanical could help cure the bubonic plague. Garden club members will be available to answer questions. The Colonial House will be open and decorated for spring.

The Emlen Physick Estate
1048 Washington Street, Cape May

 Tour five different gardens on the grounds of Cape May’s only Victorian house museum, the 1879 Emlen Physick Estate.

OVAL GARDEN: 700 colorful annuals of multi-colored snapdragons, marigolds, white vinca and red cardinal salvia flower for Summer.
HERB GARDEN: Ornamental and culinary herbs thrive throughout the Spring, Summer and Fall seasons.
FRED AND SARITA KUHNER MEMORIAL SHADE GARDEN: Enjoy a refreshing retreat on a hot summer’s day among the fountain, hydrangeas, hostas, lilies of the valley, ferns, rhododendrons and holly trees.
ELVIRA TURANO MEMORIAL GARDEN: Featuring a fountain and benches that beckon guests to enjoy a respite among ferns, hollyhocks, hellebores and two fig trees.
POLLINATOR GARDEN: Made up of a collection of native plants designed to create a habitat for butterflies. The intention of this garden is to showcase plants that people can use in their own garden to attract and support butterflies.

The Todaro-Franceschi Residence
514 Elmira Street, Cape May

A kaleidoscope of blooming color from Spring till frost, the front and rear cottage gardens were created in 2005 to support wildlife. Comprised of various host plants and nectar sources—both annuals and perennials—visiting bees, butterflies, and hummers are many, as are numerous other beneficial insects and of course birds! In 2020 we added a small pond, which is visited by toads, birds, rabbits, and even the occasional possum. A rain garden was created in 2021, with a number of native plants to support the environment. The gardens are pesticide-free, wildlife certified and are also listed in the national Monarch way-station registry.  

The Viguers Residence
501 Broad Street, Cape May

This garden located at the corner of Bank and Broad Street keeps within the historical tradition of Cape May. The original owner of the home (Mr. F. Boerner ) was a gardener and the landscape designer/caretaker for the Physic Estate located just blocks away. The success of this garden can be attributed to the on going love of flowers. The gardening season starts with daffodils, tulips, and Siberian iris followed by a variety of asiatic lilies, heirloom roses, and mophead hydrangeas. In the fall you will find wine colored garden mum’s planted along the cypress fence line. The cypress fence was hand made by the late Howard Viguers. The garden also features a fish pond. The pond, which is a former hot tub, hosts gold fish and a variety of aquatic plants which include water lilies. Take special note to the container plantings on the porch. You will find phalaenopsis orchids, a collection of begonias, and other house plants which enjoy their time on the porch all summer long.

Interested in learning more about the Victorian language of flowers?

Click below to read our blog post on Victorian Floriography.

a circular flower garden in a park