Columbus-area home and garden tours start back up, in limited way

After canceling home-and-garden events last year, many central Ohio civic associations are heading out on tour again this summer. 

Although some neighborhoods, such as Westgate and Olde Towne East, have called off tours for a second year, others are moving forward, but with some big changes. 

Two of the season’s biggest and earliest home-and-garden tours — Bexley and German Village — are dropping the “home” to stick exclusively to outdoor attractions. 

After taking a year off because of the COVID-19 pandemic, the Bexley Women's Club will launch central Ohio's home tour season next Sunday highlighting outdoor spaces, including Bexley's North and South community gardens along with private gardens. These irises in the South Community Garden on Ferndale Avenue should still be in bloom for the tour.

“Obviously, people aren’t ready to open their homes yet and we weren’t going to ask them to do that,” said Chris Hune, president of the German Village Society, which skipped a tour last year for the first time since tours began in 1960. 

Instead, the society’s annual Haus und Garten Tour will take place the last Saturday in June, as is customary, without the haus part.  

The Bexley Women’s Club made a similar decision. The club will launch central Ohio’s home tour season next Sunday by featuring 12 gardens. 

Organizers originally hoped to simply push the 2020 tour back a year but started to reconsider in September, as the COVID virus showed no sign of vanishing.

The Bexley Women's Club chose to hold this year's tour entirely outdoors. Women's Club President Akisa Fukuzawa holds a commemorative mask while visiting the South Community Garden on Ferndale Avenue.

“As we planned, we thought, ‘How will we do this? Will we have to cancel?’ ” wondered Women’s Club President Akisa Fukuzawa. “If we planned to do it indoors, a lot of homeowners wouldn’t want to do it.”  

Jane Baldwin, one of the tour’s co-chairs, knew the club would need another idea.

“I said, ‘We need a plan B,’ and someone said, ‘Let’s just do it outside.”