Garden Tours

Dianne Westlake

Indulge yourself! Go on a garden tour. Enjoy a day with your partner, a family member, a friend or group of friends. Take a drive; have a picnic lunch or a leisurely meal at quaint café; leave your cares and your chores at home and relax! Sounds great and you even get to support a good cause.

Throughout the gardening season a number of nonprofit organizations present garden tours as fundraisers. Buying a ticket is one way to offer support while spending the day outside, meeting interesting people, having fun and potentially learning a great deal. Everyone can be enriched by participating in a garden tour from the experienced gardener to the novice, from the homeowner with an enormous space to an apartment dweller with a few houseplants. Even the non-gardener can appreciate the beauty and serenity.

Rain or shine, typically, a garden tour offers six or more gardens often chosen for their proximity to one another to reduce the amount of driving. Your ticket allows you the opportunity to see private gardens that otherwise might not be open to the general public and are usually chosen for their diversity in style, size, setting and site conditions. The homeowner is customarily available to share experiences and expertise and frequently Master Gardeners are available to answer questions. The cost of admission is usually slightly less when tickets are purchased in advance but are available at the individual gardens on the day of the tour.

Take your camera. You cannot possibly remember every detail of each garden and sometimes reviewing your pictures will help you to zoom in on an item you failed to notice the first time. Digital cameras, in particular, can be used to document even the smallest of details: a bench, a structure, a plant or an arrangement of objects.

When you enter, slow down. Rushing through the garden only provides an overall impression, one part but not the total experience. Take the time to see in terms of the layers: look at the design, plants, art, talk to owner, learn, enjoy and savour. Talk to the homeowner and ask questions about how projects or effects were achieved or where specific plants were found.

If the garden is professionally designed or maintained, use the visit as an opportunity to see the work first hand, especially if you may be in the market for a designer or maintenance person in the future. What a wonderful opportunity to learn more about a potential working relationship.

Please remember that you are a guest. Pets, bikes, food items, or strollers do not belong on a tour. Wear flat shoes; stay on the paths and watch where you are stepping. Be aware of the plants, changes in grade or uneven areas. If you are bringing your child remember that you are responsible for your child’s well being and behaviour. Washroom facilities are normally not available at the gardens.

On June 26, there are two garden tours in our area. The Peterborough Art Gallery Tour offers six gardens located in Peterborough and in the Bethany-Cavan area. Hours are 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Admission $10.00 per person in advance, $12.00 per person on the day of the tour. Tickets are available at: Burley’s Gardening Pick Me Ups, 2604 Television Rd., Avant-Garden Shop, 416 George St. N. and the Peterborough Art Gallery, 250 Crescent Street 705-743-9179,

The other tour on June 26, is the Northumberland Big Sisters Big Brothers Garden Tour from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Tickets are $15.00 available at: Big Sisters Second Helping Shops in Port Hope and Colborne, Baltimore Valley Produce & Garden Centre, Brookside Perennials, GardenHouse Perennials, Pineridge Nursery, Garden Accents, Stone House Gardens, Viking Nursery, Burley's Gardening Pick Me Ups, The Potting Bench at 30 King Street West in Bowmanville. For more information call: 905-885-8435 or 1-888-278-2484

On July 10,2005 from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., Peterborough Youth Services Pond and Garden Tour features six Peterborough area gardens each incorporating a pond in the design. One of the ponds on this year’s tour was inspired by last year’s tour. Tickets are $10.00 per person in advance, $12.00 per person on the day of the tour. Tickets are available at Burley’s Gardening Pick Me Ups, Avant-Garden Shop, Griffin’s Greenhouses, Johnston’s Greenhouse & Garden Centre, Blossom Hill and Peterborough Youth Services, 459 Reid. For more information call Brenda Logan at Peterborough Youth Services 743-1681.

Participating in a garden tour is a cheap source of entertainment even if you are not an avid gardener. Observing others’ gardens should give you positive reinforcement, encouragement and ideas. Don’t compare your garden in terms of seeing all of the flaws and warts but instead look at these examples of what can be done. Look at what you are doing right and give yourself credit. Most importantly, use this break from your own garden to rejuvenate your enthusiasm and interest.