By DUNCAN CRARY
TROY — Troy’s popular Hidden Garden Tour has returned as a virtual tour.
“Earlier this spring, we realized that we would not be able to host The Hidden Garden Tour as usual this year. So we set to work bringing the garden tour to you,” said Peter Grimm, president of the Friends of Prospect Park which organizes the annual event. “This is always such a beloved, friendly event that invites visitors into the hidden, green spaces of our city. We did not want to lose that community spirit this year, so that’s why we’re bringing it to you, virtually.”
Now in its 21st year, the tour is a fundraiser to benefit Troy’s Prospect Park. Ordinarily, tour goers pay an admission fee to receive a self-guided map to more than 40 private gardens which are open for one night only throughout the Historic Sage, Washington Park and adjoining neighborhoods. In previous years, the rain-or-shine event has attracted more than 1,000 tour goers in one day.
This year’s virtual tour features 28 gardens, captured in 360-degree interactive photographs that viewers can explore online with their computer or mobile devices. Twelve gardeners recorded personal video messages, which are embedded in their stop on the virtual tour at HiddenGardenTour.com.
“We hope that you will enjoy this tour and that you’ll see how different each garden is. They all kind of exemplify the personality of each of the homeowners,” Grimm said. “This event has always been about showcasing the humanity and livability of Troy. And we think that still shines through, even in a digital medium.”
While most of the gardens are approximately the same size, about 20 feet by 30 feet, they vary greatly in style. Some of the gardens feature charming pathways, fountains and pools. Some are filled with flowers, while others have more plants and vegetables — all lovingly tended by gardeners of all skill levels.
The online virtual tour is offered at no charge, but donations are welcomed and will benefit ongoing improvement projects in historic Prospect Park, located on Congress Street in Troy. Friends of Prospect Park, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit hopes to provide free event programming in the park in future, when such activities are deemed safe to the public. Donation information is available on the tour’s website.
The virtual tour can be accessed through a desktop or laptop computer as well as via tablet or smartphone. The experience differs slightly by device. On a tablet or smartphone, one can interact with the 3D garden photos by touching the image. On some devices, the 3D photo moves as the device moves, creating a virtual reality effect. On a desktop or laptop the tour will automatically cycle through the gardens, spinning slowly or users can control the view with their mouse or trackpad. Certain gardens have a “play” button that will launch a special video message. The gardens are listed by number and the owners first names in the left hand column and clicking on the circular icon will open that particular garden’s 3D tour.
Visit https://www.hiddengardentour.com on your desktop or laptop computer.