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Are 'Garden Tours' worth the time and cost?

14 years ago

This is a copy of a thread that I posted recently on another (regional) forum,

and quickly realized that I should have posted it here to reach the wider

gardening community:

In a current post on this forum, there was some discussion about the relative

cost/value benefit of a particular tour of Beacon Hill gardens. Never having

been on this particular tour, I can't offer an opinion on it; but I did think it might be interesting to hear people's thoughts on garden tours in general.

Over the years, I've been lucky enough to visit/tour virtually hundreds of gardens, and don't really consider a single one of them a waste of time (maybe money, though!). . .like any other art form - and, yes, I think putting together a diverse collection of plant material is artful - the more you actually SEE in that art form, be it dance, music, theatre, sculpture, painting, gardens, you name it, the better able you are, as an an individual, to appreciate and distinguish between the good, mediocre, bad and ugly. And as the old adage

says: "Imitation is the highest form of flattery." I cannot begin to confess to

the number of design ideas and color/form combinations that I have happily

"borrowed" from other gardens - if a couple of the NE gardeners whose gardens I have visited where to stop by here this summer, why they'd surely

recognize certain familiar elements in THIS garden ! In short, touring other

people's gardens is one of my great passions - not only do you get to see some totally terrific stuff, but I invariably meet some delightful people. It's

just a win-win situation. . .and it sure beats trolling the mall. . .

Soapbox Time: on the slimmest chance that someone out there (perhaps a

newbie) doesn't know about them, let me briefly introduce you to the easy

answer to successful garden touring in America - The Garden Conservancy,

and more specifically, their splendid Open Days Program. This is modeled on

the original English program, whereby the Conservancy publishes a directory

each Spring, listing all the gardens that will be open across the country that

year, with specific days and hours for each, brief descriptions, and complete

instructions for finding each garden. There is a flat fee of $5.00 charged as

you enter each garden; Garden Conservancy members are eligible to buy

books of tickets which works out to a mere $2.50 per garden visit - BUT, and

this is important to know, you DO NOT have to be a Conservancy member to

attend any of these Open Days. Nor do you have to be a member to buy the

annual directory - it's available to anyone for $21.95 - or, for no money at

all, you could log on to their website all the time and get the current listings.

A membership, of course, gets you a FREE directory, plus the added bonus of

being able to visit Garden Conservancy Preservation Projects - the stabilization and maintenance-in-perpetuity of significant/historic American

gardens, of which there are currently 14, two of them in New England!

For me, having that directory literally allows me to block out my traveling

schedule the six months of their Open Days Program; all my other activities get arranged around the garden tours - have you figured out yet that I'm fanatic about this? :o)

On the same subject, I've scanned the list of forums available here on GW and I don't think I see one that specifically lists Garden Tours. Is this something that would be of interest to any other gardeners: a comprehensive

listing of garden tours, big and small, national and specifically local, that all

of us could post to with new listings which would include dates, cost, hours

of opening, and travel information?


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