Spring, when nature puts itself on open display, is also the season for peeking into private havens. Scores of house and garden tours are being organized, across Kentucky and from New York to San Francisco. They will continue through the fine months.
Here is your chance to see hidden gardens in Lexington or Boston, historic homes in Frankfort, or midcentury modern houses in Philadelphia. Many of the events are fundraisers, so while you are contemplating a reflecting pool or admiring a connoisseur's art collection, your entry fees will be at work. CALENDAR
Here is a roundup of home and garden tours in Kentucky and across the nation, in case you want to take in a tour while traveling. Unless otherwise noted, all tours are self-guided.
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Ashland Garden Tour and Peony Sale, Lexington. 2-5 p.m. May 5. This tour includes the peonies on the grounds of Ashland, the Henry Clay Estate, 120 Sycamore Rd., and several gardens in the neighborhood. $10; peonies available for purchase for $30-$85. Henryclay.org.
Woodford County Woman's Club Spring Garden Tour, Versailles. 10 a.m.-4 p.m. May 11. A tour of eight gardens in Versailles, Midway and the surrounding area, and a plant sale at the Little House, 247 Lexington St., Versailles. Begin at The Little House. $15 in advance, available at local businesses; $20 on day of tour, available at Little House. A map with addresses of participating gardens is available with ticket purchase. Woodfordcountywomansclub.org.
Kilgore House and Garden Tour, Louisville. 10 a.m.-5 p.m. May 18-19. Six gardens and two homes in Louisville's East End. Tour benefits Kilgore Samaritan Counseling Center. $30, $5 ages 5 and younger than 6. Kilgoregardentour.org.
Northside Neighborhood Association Historic House and Garden Tour. Noon-5 p.m. May 19. At least 14 sites, including homes on tony Elsmere and Fayette Parks, are on this tour of one of Lexington's oldest residential areas. $15, $5 for children 4-7, free for children younger than 4. Northsidelex.com.
Crescent Hill Garden Tour, Louisville. 9 a.m.-5 p.m. June 1. Ten gardens in this Louisville neighborhood. Brunch ($8) served 9 a.m.-noon. Tickets available at tour's starting point, 301 S. Peterson Ave. $10. Crescenthillgardentour.org.
Open Gates to Bluegrass Living Garden Tour, Lexington. June 1-2. Lexington Council of Garden Clubs' semi-annual tour features eight gardens. including gardener Jon Carloftis' restoration work at historic Botherum house. $12 in advance, $15 day of tour; available at local garden shops, from garden clubs and at tour stops (see website for locations). (859) 276-3641, Lexgardenclubs.org.
East Row Garden Walk, Newport. 10 a.m.-4 p.m. June 1-2. Tour of garden in historic district. $15, free for ages 12 and younger. Tickets available in advance at Eastrowgardenclub.org or on days of tour (cash or check only) at Watertower Square parking lot, Sixth St. and Washington Ave., Newport. Eastrowgardenclub.org.
Blooming Bardstown Garden Tour and Marketplace. 8 a.m.-4 p.m. June 8. Plant marketplace at Nelson County Cooperative Extension Service, 317 S. Third St. $8 in advance, $10 day of tour. www.ca.uky.edu/Nelson.
Living in History Home and Garden Tour, Frankfort. 10 a.m.-5 p.m. June 8. The Garden Club of Frankfort's tour features eight sites representing historic downtown, the suburbs and the country. Lunch served at Frankfort Country Club, 101 Duntreath. $15. Gardenclubky.org.
Old Louisville Hidden Treasures Garden Tour. 10 a.m.-5 p.m. June 8-9. Features 11 gardens in Old Louisville Historic Preservation District, including Woman's Club Memory Garden at Frazier House. Walking tours begin at Conrad-Caldwell House museum, 1402 St. James Ct. $12 in advance, $15 on tour days; free for ages 12 and younger. Oldlouisvillegardentour.com.
Garden Club of Elizabethtown Garden Tour and Tea. 1-5 p.m. June 9. Tour and tea begin at Brown Pusey House, Main and Popular Sts. $15; includes tour, tea and horticulture exhibit. (270) 737-8082.
Decorators' Show House and Gardens, Atlanta. Through May 12. Features an 18,000-square-foot French-style limestone house with a slate roof, leaded windows and parquet floors. $25; no children younger than 8. (404) 733-4935, Decoratorsshowhouse.org.
Kansas City Symphony Alliance Designer's Showhouse, Kansas City, Mo. Through May 19. Features the Greek revival Bent-Ward House, which incorporates part of an 1871 brick structure. $15 in advance, $18 day of tour. (816) 968-9711, Showhouse.org.
Secret Gardens Tour, Cincinnati. 8:30 a.m.-3:30 p.m. June 15. The Cincinnati Horticultural Society presents this daylong guided bus tour of private gardens in historic Wyoming and Glendale. $100; includes breakfast, lunch and bus; reservations required by June 8. Cincyflowershow.com.
Sheffield Garden Walk, Chicago. July 20-21. More than 80 neighborhood gardens will be included, along with live music, food and children's activities. $7, $10 after 3 p.m. Sheffieldgardenwalk.com.
Bucks County Designer House and Gardens, Doylestown, Pa. Through May 26. The Clement Doyle House, an 1811 stone manor, is the site of the 38th edition. $25, $20 seniors; no children younger than 10. (215) 345-2191, Buckscountydesignerhouse.org.
Greenwich Village Society for Historic Preservation tour, New York City. 1-5:30 p.m. May 5. An 1853 home with an exquisite central staircase and an Italianate house with its original moldings and floors are among six homes featured. $175-$300 in advance, $200 day of tour. (212) 475-9585, Ext. 32; Gvshp.org/benefit.
Junior League of New York tour, Manhattan, New York City. May 11. A former carriage house in Greenwich Village and a Flatiron district loft are part of a tour. $100 in advance, $125 day of tour; includes lunch and cocktail reception. (212) 288-6220, Nyjl.org.
Southampton Historical Museum tour, Southampton, N.Y. May 11. The tour will include a 19th-century farmhouse and a house built about 1900 with a turreted tower and widow's walk. $75 in advance, $90 day of tour; no children younger than 12. (631) 283-2494, Southamptonhistoricalmuseum.org.
Chestnut Hill Historical Society tour, Philadelphia. June 1. Five midcentury modern homes in the Chestnut Hill neighborhood will be open; $30. Two rarely seen properties will be featured in a guided tour: Esherick House by Louis Kahn; and the Vanna Venturi House by Robert Venturi; $100 and must be purchased in advance. No children younger than 12 on either tour. (215) 247-0417, Chhist.org.
Prospect Lefferts Gardens, Brooklyn, N.Y. June 2. An 1898 Romanesque revival house with eight fireplaces and a 1910 townhouse with its original arts and crafts details are among the homes on the tour. $20 in advance, $25 day of tour; no children younger than 12. (718) 284-6210, Leffertsmanor.org.
Mount Morris Park, Harlem, New York City. 11 a.m.-4 p.m. June 9. Features about a dozen homes with architectural details like stained-glass windows and elaborately carved staircases. $25 in advance, $35 day of tour. (212) 369-4241, Mmpcia.org.
Hampton Designer Showhouse, Bridgehampton, N.Y. July 21-Sept. 2. $35; no children younger than 6. (631) 745-0004, Hamptondesignershowhouse.com.
Garden Walk Buffalo, N.Y. July 27-28. It bills itself as the largest garden tour in the United States, and with 380 sites in several neighborhoods, that might be right. Free; no tickets required. (716) 879-0123, Gardenwalkbuffalo.com.
Hidden Gardens of Beacon Hill tour, Boston. May 16. The tour will include 12 private gardens and four ribbon gardens. $35 in advance, $40 day of tour; tickets that include a luncheon are $75. (617) 227-4392, Beaconhillgardenclub.org.
Secret Gardens of Newport, R.I. June 14-16 , Sept. 6-8. A dozen gardens will be open as part of the tours (different gardens will be shown at each event). $20 in advance, $25 day of tour; tickets are good for three days. (401) 439-7253, Secretgardentours.org.
San Francisco Decorator Showcase. Through May 27. Features Herbst Manor, an 1899 Georgian house. $30, $25 seniors and students. (415) 447-5830, Decoratorshowcase.org.
Gardens of Northwest Denver, Denver. June 8. The tour will feature 20 sites, including urban farms and sculpture gardens. $15, free for children younger than 12. (303) 433-4983, Conflictcenter.org.