The history of the All Saints Garden Tour goes back to the spring of 1987 when the women of the fledgling Hilton Head Island church gathered to form an Episcopal Church Women’s Organization. Among other things, fundraising ideas were discussed.
At that time, All Saints Episcopal was a very small but growing mission church that held Sunday services in the Hilton Head High School library.
By the fall of that year, it was decided that their first major undertaking would be a garden tour. Proceeds from the tour would be applied to the church building fund as well as to community efforts.
The third Saturday of May was chosen for the event, and 10 gardens were identified and selected for the first “Potpourri of Gardens.”
May 21, 1988, was a beautiful day. About 535 people purchased tickets and enjoyed the first-ever All Saints Garden Tour, which realized a profit of $5,400.
Jump ahead to May 19, 2018. The 31st annual tour, still the only tour of private gardens available on Hilton Head, will feature six magnificent gardens, three on the island and three in Bluffton.
Some gardens featured on this year’s tour include art work and water features, while others face a large body of water and need no manmade features. Some gardeners specialize in unusual green foliage while others focus on a variety of rare but colorful blooms.
In addition to admission to the gardens from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., the $35 ticket includes a luncheon served from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. at the church.
Also at the church, an original art sale, a bake sale, master gardeners plus landscape items for sale.
Since the beginning, the tour has been an unqualified success and has attracted more and more garden lovers every year. For the past few years, about 700 tickets have been sold each year and proceeds have ranged from $20,000 to $30,000. Beginning in 1998, none of the proceeds were given to the church, with all tour profits divided among local charities. Last year, $30,000 was distributed evenly among six local charities.
Since its inception, the tour has donated in excess of $500,000 to nonprofit organizations that serve Beaufort and Jasper counties. This year’s profits will be divided equally among Antioch Education Center, Backpack Buddies of Bluffton, Backpack Buddies of Hilton Head, Hilton Head Safe Harbour, and St. Stephens UMC Food Bank in Jasper County.
Tickets are available at allsaints-hhi .org or with cash or check at Bruno’s Nursery, The Greenery, Green Thumb Nursery and Burkes’s Pharmacy on the island, as well as Honey Baked Ham, Markel’s Card & Gift, Sunshine Nursery, and Taylors Landscaping in Bluffton. Those vendors will also display a copy of the tour’s award-winning poster, determined each year through an artist’s competition. This year’s winner is a photograph entitled “Standing Proud,” submitted by Jean-Marie Coté.
For more information call 843-422-6006. All Saints Episcopal Church is located at 3001 Meeting St.
Carole Galli is a volunteer for the All Saints Garden Tour.