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Ken-Ton Garden Tour returns this weekend

"Night Light" tours run Friday and Saturday from 8:30 p.m. to 11 p.m. Daytime hours are 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday and Sunday.

KENMORE, N.Y. — Gardeners and homeowners in Kenmore and the Town of Tonawanda are showing off their green thumbs this weekend during the 18th annual Ken-Ton Garden Tour.

The event kicks off Friday, July 16 with the "Night Lights" tour. It runs from 8:30 p.m. to 11 p.m. The after-dark tour also runs Saturday night.

Daytime hours are both Saturday and Sunday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.

There are 48 different stops on this year's free, self-guided tour. It was on hiatus last year because of the pandemic, but during that break, organizers revamped the website so you can now pull up a map and descriptions of each stop right on your phone. 

Kathi and Craig Schwab's home, located at 491 Highland Avenue in the Town of Tonawanda, has been part of the tour for 12 years. A friend complimented their garden years ago, and they decided to share it with the community by taking part in the annual event.

The Schwabs have lived in that home since 1974 and have spent decades planting, watering, mowing, and trimming their gardens to colorful perfection.

"It has been a labor of love because we have had some errors, but we pretty much have it down pat now," said Kathi Schwab. "When we moved in, it was a blank canvas. There was nothing but grass and dead poplar trees in the back. It has been a matter of transforming the garden little by little because we have a lot of clay soil in the town."

Craig Schwab is in charge of the lighting, which takes center stage during the Ken-Ton Garden Tour's "Night Lights" tour.

"The people are amazed that it could look so different from the daylight. If they came during the day, they come during the night time and they say wow, what a difference," said Craig Schwab.

Doug Dedman and Russ Polvino have showcased their Tonawanda Street home and gardens for the past 12 years. They are also part of the "Night Lights" tour.

"It's so nice when people come to the garden, and they say what a beautiful garden you have. Or the neighbors go by and say you really do an awesome job. It just makes you really happy," said Doug Dedman.

Dedman got his gardening skills from his grandfather, and Polvino learned tips and tricks while helping his mother. It takes a lot of work to get everything to look just right — like 2.5 hours of watering every other day and plenty of fertilizer and deadheading. For them, the work is worth the beauty.

"We love it because it's a paradise for us. If we have a hard day at work, we can just come out here and enjoy ourselves," said Dedman.

Dedman and Polvino are going for a cottage garden look. Flowers, trees, and plants are planted and placed close together, and you'd be hard-pressed to find a part of their yard that isn't covered in colorful blooms.

"I love it because we are giving back to the community [during the tour]. People can come and see what they can really do to their own yards, make their land and houses as beautiful as ours," said Dedman.