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Traditional home tours not the only game in town

Jeanine Matlow
Special to The Detroit News

Traditional home tours are not the only game in town. This time of year, Michigan offers a unique array of stables and ponds and barns — oh my.

A container pond with a whimsical fairy is surrounded by flowers in Doris Goudy’s colorful garden on East Outer Drive in Detroit.

Metro Detroit Pond & Garden Club

First up is the Metro Detroit Pond & Garden Club tour on July 25 that features around eight gardens on Detroit’s east side, East English Village and Grosse Pointe, most with ponds on their property. “You never know that they exist until you go on the tour to see the ponds and gardens,” says Doris Goudy, who serves on the tour committee. “From the front, you have no idea they exist.”

Goudy’s garden will be among those shown this year.

What’s unique about her property is the variety of perennials. “I have hibiscus, clematis and wisteria trees,” she says. “I’ve always been into gardening. I started with my mom as a small child. I have a vegetable garden and I put annuals in to last all season.”

She also has peonies, water features such as fountains, and a lot of color.

Her twin brother, Norris Goudy, who lives on East Outer Drive in Detroit, will show his koi pond and garden on the tour. “I have a large pond on the front side of the house,” he says. “Everybody who walks down the street always stops to look. There’s a lot of Grosse Pointe traffic stopping by and complimenting me on the landscaping. They don’t realize there’s a pond there until they stop.”

The retired attorney was inspired by his sister’s garden. “I bet I’ve planted 30 trees on the lot in seven years. I looked at hers and how amazing it was and I wanted mine to be amazing, too,” he says. “I also wanted a retreat.”

He says his garden is certified as a wildlife habitat by the National Wildlife Federation.

“Four cardinals came to nest around the pond last year and now they’re back. I’m not sure if they’re the same ones, but they’re nesting in the same spot. They seem to know that they’re protected there,” he says.

The urban setting is unexpected. “It’s a teaching opportunity for kids in the neighborhood. They want to know about the fish and the plants. They walk past a lot of nature and I get a chance to talk to them,” he says.

“Joni Mitchell said it best, ‘They paved paradise and put up a parking lot,’ but I have my own little paradise right here on Outer Drive,” he says. “It’s peaceful, like being on vacation every day. Birds are flying in to bathe. It’s just a great place to be.”

Metamora Hunt

Next up, in Lapeer County, is the Metamora Hunt — Hunt Country Stable Tour on Aug. 16. Joe Maday, master of foxhounds, says the annual fundraiser helps them maintain 120 miles of bridle trails.

Though they don’t announce which stables will be on the tour in advance, they make sure the selection is special.

“People go all out,” Maday says. “One that was featured had an observation room with a fireplace to watch people ride. It was really sort of high-end.”

“We make it really fun. You start out at the kennel to meet the hounds and we serve port, just like a hunt day. Everybody seems to like it.”

The White Horse Inn, established in 1850, is an ideal meeting place before or after the tour that features six stops, including one barn. “It was completely redone. It’s quite spectacular and we’ll tie it into the tour in some way, but we’re still working out the details,” he says.

Tourgoers receive a map and a booklet with line drawings and descriptions of the stables. “We send people in opposite directions so everyone doesn’t crowd the same place at once,” says Maday.

“You get a real feel for what’s going on in Metamora. You feel like you’re up north in Traverse City or something, but it isn’t that far,” he says. “The countryside is so pretty. If you haven’t been here, it’s a beautiful way to see the countryside.”

Romeo Barn Tour

On Sept. 19, the Romeo Historical Society’s annual barn tour is held to raise funds for their three nonprofit museums. New barns are featured each time, along with the Craig Blacksmith Museum, which will present the wheelwright’s operation this year.

The seven sites on this year’s tour include 10 barns and two house barns built between 1840 and 1940. One is a unique stone barn with a basement that contains auto memorabilia, photos, old engine coils, head lamps and road maps.

Another highlight is a complex of barns turned into fantasy buildings, including huge workshops and a nightclub.

Among the others is a barn for prizewinning horses and another that features a built-in corn crib and granary.

Richard Beringer and his wife, Joan, are curators of the museums. “We live in a barn and we love old barns,” says Richard. “We went on a barn tour and decided we wanted to have one to raise money for the museums.”

Their self-guided tour concept has been a success so far. “Some stops might have music; some people go to a restaurant and then continue on. We work really hard to pick a very good quality. It’s a lot of fun.”

Jeanine Matlow writes the Smart Solutions column for Homestyle. You can reach her at jeaninematlow@earthlink.net.

Tour Guide

Metro Detroit Pond & Garden Club 13th annual tour: July 25 from 10 a.m.–5 p.m.: Tickets are $10. Children 11 and under free. For advance tickets, contact Johnnie at (313) 533-5609 or Dennis at (313) 779-2912. Tickets can be purchased on the day of the tour at 12282 East Outer Drive. metrodetroitpondandgardenclub.org.

Metamora Hunt – Hunt Country Stable Tour: Sunday, Aug.16, from noon – 4 p.m. Tickets are $25. The tour is not appropriate for young children for safety reasons. Contact Joe Maday, (810) 678-8384, metamorahunt.com.

■Maps for the Romeo Barn Tour (Romeo, Bruce and Washington Townships) must be picked up at the Romeo Archives Museum, 290 N. Main Street after 10:30 a.m. on Sept. 19. Presale tickets are $12 and can be purchased at Two Romeo Girls, 227 N. Main Street, (586) 651-4290 or Connelly’s Creations, 175 S. Main Street (586) 752-2537). Tickets are $15 on the day of the tour and can only be purchased at the Archives Museum, 290 N. Main Street. (586) 752-4111;

romeohistoricalsociety.org.