Project GREEN Open Gardens Weekend set for July 9-10

Project GREEN garden tour
This peaceful garden retreat, encompassing a water feature with shade plants, will be a part of Project GREEN's Grow Iowa City tour July 9-10. CREDIT GROW IOWA CITY

Project GREEN garden tour co-founder Gretchen Harshbarger once said, “There is no greater expression of art than creating a beautiful garden or more rewarding joy than sharing its delights with others.”

Ms. Harshbarger’s philosophy will be on full display when area gardeners share their creations with the public during Open Gardens Weekend 2022 (OGW) on Saturday, July 9, from 4-8 p.m., and Sunday, July 10, from 10 a.m.-2 p.m.

OGW’s Project GREEN tour debuted in 2019 and returned in 2021 following a hiatus during the coronavirus pandemic in 2020.

OGW creator Beth Cody says 28 private gardens and five public gardens are on the tour. Private gardens include a wide range of styles and sizes. Some have been professionally planned and constructed, but most are lovingly designed and built over time by their owners, who have learned what grows well in our area.

“People love the chance to visit beautiful gardens that are the personal expression of the gardener,” Ms. Cody said. “And gardeners often enjoy the appreciation expressed by visitors when they share their gardens with others. Importantly, every garden visit is an opportunity for the visitors to learn something and be inspired, but it’s also a chance for the garden owner to see their own garden through the eyes of their visitors which can give them ideas to keep things fresh and gain even more enjoyment from their private paradise.”

Nick Pettifer, vice president of public affairs for Think Iowa City, says OGW has the potential to become a destination weekend for gardeners in the Midwest region. “Gardening grew in popularity during the pandemic and there are no indications of a decline. Gardeners actively seek new ideas and like to explore to see what others have done.”

Business sponsorships support the Project GREEN garden tour, making it a free activity for the public.

Maps will be available by July 2 and can be picked up from any of the sponsors, including the city of Coralville, Forever Green, Green State Credit Union, Hills Bank, Iowa City Landscaping & Garden Center, Rindy Inc., Sanders Creek Nursery Company Nursery and Landscaping, Think Iowa City and Urban Acres.

More information can be found online at

Since Project GREEN (Growing to Reach Environment Excellence Now) was formed in 1968 as a byproduct of an Iowa City subcommittee, Citizens for a Better Iowa City,  the all-citizen volunteer nonprofit organization has funded $2.2 million in local beautification projects.

Volunteers maintain the Project GREEN Gardens at the Ashton House, 820 Park Road, where 50 trees for 50 years have been planted to recognize its 50th anniversary of service to the community. The Ashton House is a community event center and accommodates up to 100 people for meetings, reunions, parties, weddings, and receptions.