One look at the enchanted retreats on this tour and you'll believe in fairies.
Garden Fairies, that is.
These artists of the outdoor world will fling open the garden gates Saturday during their second Art in the Garden Tour. A post-tour party and art reception will take place at 5 p.m. at the Clay & Paper/Painted Fish Gallery in Dunedin.
"We live in Florida and can use our outdoor spaces all year round, so why not make them just as beautiful as the inside of your house," said Siobhan Nehin, an exterior designer and queen of the Garden Fairies. "These are like the gardens you drool over in national magazines."
Spectators will have the opportunity to visit as many as 10 gardens on the self-guided excursion that winds through Clearwater, Dunedin, Palm Harbor, Largo, Tampa and Trinity.
The designer yards have gone from boring to born-again, taking cues from places like Bermuda, Hawaii, Europe and the Caribbean. They show that murals, pottery, garden art and bougainvillea-covered pergolas can perk up any yard.
"This is not just about gardens, but patios, furniture, accessories, murals and water features," Nehin said.
Each garden will feature an artist or two, garden art for sale, prizes and free snacks and beverages. Demonstrations on how to make mosaics, paint murals and pot plants will take place in selected gardens.
Nehin and some artistic friends began the garden cooperative 11 years ago when they started digging in each other's gardens and found they couldn't stop.
"We have fun, get great exercise and are turning the world into a more colorful place," said Nehin, 52.
She said their numbers have grown to about 500 women and one man, Jesus Rodriguez, of Trinity.
With the help of their fellow Garden Fairies, the Rodriguez family began transforming their formerly turf-laden back yard into a "Puerto Rican resort" about six years ago. Today, it is a lush tropical paradise with a pergola, fountain, fire pit, flagstone patio and a butterfly mosaic made from stepping stones embedded into the sand.
The mosaic is surrounded with pentas, bougainvillea, Cape honeysuckle, firebush and oleander.
"It's a butterfly garden, a natural preserve for the native wildlife, including frogs, birds and butterflies," Rodriguez said.
Tickets cost $25 and proceeds will be used to refurbish a weed-covered lot in Tarpon Springs.
The Garden Fairies are collaborating with the Tarpon Springs Chamber of Commerce to transform the lot into a pocket park with pavers, a mosaic mural and drought-tolerant plants, Nehin said.
"It will help beautify downtown and can be used for things like green markets or small concerts," she said.
Over the past years, the benevolent bunch has donated energy, talents and fundraising abilities to hospitals, day care centers, parks, needy individuals, community centers and local municipalities.
The group's first garden tour in 2004 raised $8,000 for beautification projects at Fred Howard Park in Tarpon Springs.
The members are hoping to make the same magic this year.
"People can see just the gardens in their area or make a day out of it and see them all," Nehin said.
Just know, this garden tour only happens once every five years and then poof, it's gone.