Garden Tour countdown begins! Preview of Carmana Designs garden

I can't tell you how excited I am for this year's Garden Tour coming up at 1pm on Saturday, September 8 (rain date: 9/9). Our Garden Tour Committee has done an absolutely amazing job finding and recruiting over 20 urban oases to be a part of this year's tour, most of which were not on the tour last year. We listened to the feedback that participants gave us last year and put the focus of the 2012 tour on home and private gardens at homes and businesses. Over the next two weeks (that's right - the tour is only two weeks from TODAY), our team of bloggers will be bringing you previews of what's the come. I'm lucky enough to get to kick things off with one stop that I'm making a priority when I do the tour. Anna Maria and Carmen Vona have owned and operated Carmana Designs, Ltd., a high-end cabinetmaking and mill shop for 31 years. They have been at their McKean Street location for the past 12 years and after extensively renovating the 30,000 sq. ft. facility, they had little funds left for landscaping the quaint cobblestone courtyard. A low loading dock in the courtyard provided a haven for loiterers who left trash behind. They creatively solved both issues with salvaged concrete flower planters from the Bellevue Stratford Hotel, free compost from the City and lots of shrubs, plants and flowers. Today the cobblestone courtyard cascades with sweet potato vine, black-eyed susans azaleas, lilies, petunias, geraniums, mums, clematis, salvia, vinca, ornamental grasses and herbs. The unsavory characters who used to frequent the space have been displaced by Monarch butterflies and even praying mantises. So don't wait. Get your tickets today. Save yourself $5 by buying in advance. Tickets are $20 and available at Urban Jungle, (1526 E. Passyunk Avenue), Ultimo Coffee (1900 South 15th St.), Grindcore House (1515 S. 4th St.), and online.