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ORCA Garden Party Tour

A big THANK YOU to all who participated!

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The Ocean Ridge Community Garden was brimming with flowers and veggies: cabbages, broccoli, carrots, and lettuce just to name a few items. The residents’ plots were also a lesson in “hard work pays dividends” and inspiring to all.  Many volunteers devoted endless hours on the new trellis, paths, fountains, grooming the gardens, as well as their own plots. It was heartwarming and inspiring to see the recovery that has taken place in the garden.


“My Garden is my most beautiful masterpiece.”

Claude Monet

On a beautiful, sunny Sunday afternoon (May 15, 2022), Ocean Ridge residents were invited to a “Garden Party Tour” of the Ocean Ridge community garden, as well as the home gardens of four of our neighbors.  This fabulous event was sponsored by the Ocean Ridge Charities Association and the proceeds will be donated to: Communities In Schools Action for Success, Brunswick Family Assistance Summer Food Program for Children and Bundle Baskets for Brunswick County residents of the Boys and Girls Homes of NC.  

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For us, the tour began at Kathy Stuart’s garden. We were delighted and bedazzled by the beautiful flowers and sparkling items in her garden. It was a true masterpiece of color and variety. Her cozy dining area was a kaleidoscope of colors and unique plants. We’d expect nothing less from our award winning quilter and fiber artist. Her display of indigo plants and the resulting fabric dying techniques was an “extra credit” project blending her love of gardening and fabrics. Interestingly, in 1670, Indigo seeds were planted in South Carolina and eventually became a major crop, rivaled only by tobacco.

We stopped at Sue and Bob Houser’s home and were thrilled by the tranquility of their garden. Although they were away, they were kind enough to allow their beautiful garden to be on the tour. Pris and Bob Lovell welcomed the neighbors and chatted with friends. The separate tiers lent themselves to several vignettes including: a celebratory picnic “engagement surprise”, a secret garden spot for reading and delicious martini’s under the canopy of trees and Japanese lanterns. The use of color and unique plants added to the peaceful setting. A delicious special lemonade encouraged us to take our time stopping and smelling the flowers!


We travelled on to Melanie Kelley’s arboretum in her spacious and secluded back yard. Melanie provided a detailed tour fit for a Master Gardner class trip. The selection of plants, trees and flowers was amazing. She showed us plants that grew as well in the sun as they did in the shade. Her garden offers a huge variety of plants in pots and in the beds. It is a beautiful setting and truly reflected the intensity of her work and knowledge of the plants. Melanie is another talented quilter who loves the garden and all its possibilities. Thanks to her husband Dick, who was serving cool drinks to the visitors.


Our final stop was at Marie Gaddis’s tropical backyard oasis. This garden was set up for a large party with a beautifully set table and even lights to help keep the party going into the evening. There were so many beautiful flowers in bloom that it was like being in Hawaii. There is even a carved Hawaiian totem pole, with tiki torches and flowers to set the mood. The flowers were all gorgeous. There is a special “two story colonial bird house”, with a climbing rose leading the way to the house, which overlooks the pond. The true “gems of the day” were several of Ocean Ridge’s famous “80’s Ladies” keeping Rachel (Marie’s Mom) company on the deck. It was wonderful to see Rose Johnson and Elaine Griffin relaxing on the deck with Rachael. A favorite grandson was also available to help with the ladies requests.


This was truly a fabulous tour. I’ve tried to provide you a flavor of the excellent experience that was the Garden Party Tour. It was an afternoon of “eye candy for the soul.” In addition, we had many beautiful prizes for our auction provided by several of our very talented artistic residents, the Community Garden, Bloomers and Briar Patch. Congratulations to the lucky winners.              

Special thanks to:

* Joanne Bush, Judy Cunningham and Rosemary Kilbridge for organizing this event.

* Kathy, Sue and Bob, Melanie and Marie and Kim and Barbara at the Community garden for their willingness to share the efforts of their hard work.

* Ocean Ridge residents who were fortunate enough to attend and support our charities.

* Our ORCA volunteers who greeted and helped to direct the participants to the garden paths.

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