Enchanted gardens coming to McLaughlin Garden in Paris

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PARIS — The public is invited for a night of enchantment and magic during Garden Illuminated at McLaughlin Garden and Homestead.

MAGICAL LIGHTS — McLaughlin Garden and Homestead in Paris is lit by hundreds of candles during a past Garden Illuminated event.
MAGICAL LIGHTS — McLaughlin Garden and Homestead in Paris is lit by hundreds of candles during a past Garden Illuminated event.

The annual event is scheduled for 8 p.m. Saturday, July 16, at the garden, 97 Main St. in Paris. The price is $20 and tickets can be purchased at the garden gift shop or by call 743-8220. The rain date Saturday, July 23.

The evening is set to begin around dusk, as 500 different fixtures – ranging from hanging jars to luminaries – are lit with candles and illuminate the two-acre historic garden, according to Executive Director Donna Anderson.

“It’s almost like giant fireflies. … You get the sense of mystery and magic,” she said, noting oftentimes the fragrances of the garden’s plethora of plants come out after the sun goes down. “I will say, as lovely as this garden is during the day, there is something really special … about the garden at night.”

There will be refreshments on tap so attendees can eat, drink and be merry while spending time together. New this year, The Cobblestones will provide live music for all to enjoy. The will begin playing shortly after 8 p.m.

“This idea of having fusion of some talent on our doorstep would be foolish for us to partner with another [group],” she said. “What we are really trying to do with our events this year is boost up the fun.”

Anderson expanded on the magic she feels during the event.

“When there is candlelight and darkness, your imagination does have a little more scope to imagine that kind of more the wild … enchanted parts of your imagination you don’t think about that much,” she said.

Leading up to Garden Illuminated, a Fairy House Workshop will be held at 1 to 4 p.m. on Sunday, July 10, in the garden’s barn. It is $5 per fairy house and materials are provided. Anderson said there is no age limit, and adults are invited to join in on the fun, as long as younger children are accompanied by an adult.

“What we’re going to do this year is put together a fairy home village … in the back of the garden. … There is something just very fun about miniature,” she said. Anderson noted the structures – which are often made out of sticks, moss, pine cones and other natural materials – will be lit up with LEDs. “That will fit with our attempts to be more family friendly.”

She added last year there were a few children at Garden Illuminated and she hopes even more will attend for the 2016 version.

Those wishing to participate in the Fairy House Workshop should call 743-8820 or email mclgardn@megalink.net to make reservations to help plan for materials.

Last year, Anderson said there was “variable weather during the day” but they decided to go on with the Garden Illuminated that evening. She gave a nod to the large group of staff and volunteers who put in numerous hours to make the event a success. This includes staying after and snuffing out the garden’s 500 candles, which she described as having an element of summer camp.

“Blowing out 500 candles in the dark … is kind of a fun, childlike joy,” she said. “Even people who are here all the time – that evening is unique to them.”

For more information about Garden Illuminated, visitwww.mclaughlingarden.org/.

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PARIS — Change can be good, which is why after 80 years, McLaughlin Garden and Homestead Executive Director Donna Anderson believes moving the garden’s main entrance will benefit visitors and volunteers alike.

GREETINGS — The staff at McLaughlin Garden and Homestead in Paris have moved the main entrance to the 2-acre site from north of the homestead to the Dooryard Garden just south of the house. Visitors and Banfor residents 6-year-old Isaac Hodsdon, 8-year-old Silas Hodsdon and their mom Shandy Hodsdon, who grew up in the area, stand in front of the welcome wagon in the barn.
GREETINGS — The staff at McLaughlin Garden and Homestead in Paris have moved the main entrance to the 2-acre site from north of the homestead to the Dooryard Garden just south of the house. Visitors and Banfor residents 6-year-old Isaac Hodsdon, 8-year-old Silas Hodsdon and their mom Shandy Hodsdon, who grew up in the area, stand in front of the welcome wagon in the barn.

Staff and volunteers of the garden – at 97 Main St. in Paris – are in the process moving the site’s entrance from the front gate on the garden north of the homestead to the Dooryard Garden just south of the house. The new entrance leads to the historic barn where information about the 2-acre garden, including up-to-date maps, will be available to make the site more accessible, Anderson said.

“Two things happened with [garden founder] Bernard [McLaughlin] was alive, he would leave the garden open passively would greet visitors here,” she said from inside the homestead last week. “The spirit of Bernard’s garden gate still exists because [visitors] can come seven days a week.”

The more centralized entrance will help volunteers and staff with periodic counting of visitors. This gives them an idea of how many people are visiting the site and also helps with grants, Anderson added.

Guides of the garden will be updated every few weeks and the new entrance is closer to the gift shop, plant sale and bathrooms, not to mention staff and volunteers.

“I think it will be a little more visitor friendly for us,” Anderson said about the entrance move.

This also helps connect the garden and homestead to the neighboring Curtis House, which is slated to become the nonprofit’s visitor center. The move is the first step in integrating the two sites, which cover roughly six acres on Paris’ main drag, according to Anderson.

“Just because the garden gate is closed doesn’t mean that we’re closed. It just means we’re inviting people to enter in a different way,” she said.