A Guide for Garden Tours

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WELCOME TO OUR GARDEN – A  Guide for Garden Tours


by Al and Nancy Lenoce of Spinning Wheel Gardens, Trumbull, CT

During the course of our lives, most of us have experienced the fun and sometime the anxiety of putting on our best face when we are expecting “company”. Getting ones gardens ready for visitors is much the same process, but with at least 2 exceptions. Most of the people whom we are inviting are strangers and the means of inviting these “strangers” is, for the most part, done by using various mass media.

One of the most important elements of having an Open Garden tour is selecting the date for your very special event.  For us, that date is determined by our estimate of when will the “stars” of our event be at their best. The “stars”, for us, are the roses. So, generally, that means our “company” will be invited to come to the party around the 10th  of June.

There are numerous details to show the” stars” to their best advantage; the following is a list of musts:

  1. Make certain that you start your spraying program at the very beginning of the season.
  2. Complete all of your pruning at the optimum time for your zone. And, dispose of all of the dead canes.
  3. Water and fertilize all plants, including plants that are not roses, as early as safely possible. For speedier growth use your favorite liquid fertilizer.
  4. Place a fresh coating of your favorite mulch around all of your plants.
  5. A day or two before your event, remove any leaves that may have black spot.
  6. Clean and remove any algae that may be on your bird baths and other garden fixtures or decorations.
  7. Make sure all garden tools and hoses are hidden from view.
  8. If you have bird feeders, make certain that they have been well stocked days before your event. Birds can be very entertaining and a point of interest, especially for children
  9. If you have a preferred way that you would like your guests to walk through your gardens, then install some signs. A simple sign with an arrow works.
  10. At the entrance to your property consider posting a discreet sign/poster stating some simple rules. Something like: children welcome with adults, no pets, no smoking, do not throw coins in the water, state your policy regarding allowing people to go into your home to use the bathroom, state your policy regarding the use or publication of photos, and one of  the most important –do not cut the flowers or walk into the garden beds.
  11. These are just some of the essentials. Some hosts  print up a list like this and hand it to each visitor.
  12. Have a welcome sign at the entrance to your property. And, block the entrance to your driveway. In the event of an emergency, you want to have immediate entry to and from your property.
  13. In front of the entry to your gardens, locate a table and chair to be used by the host, hostess or volunteer. This is the spot where your guests will be welcomed.
  14. Consider having literature containing information about your gardens on the welcome table. Always popular are self made posters showing pictures of your various plants, including before and after photos of the gardens.
  15. Contact your mail order suppliers and nurseries to request that they send you copies of their current catalogue. In the past, places like Jackson & Perkins, Edmunds and others have been very happy to ship (their expense) as many as 50-100 catalogues each. It’s a win, win for everyone.
  16. Have several rest areas so that your guests can really stop, sit and smell the roses.
  17. Have a special sit-down area where you have water or some beverage along with some snacks ( cookies etc.), do not forget a waste basket. In one of your rest areas have a display board with pictures and names of the various plants that your guests will be admiring. Also, in an appropriate location, display the actual products that you use to produce your healthy plants i.e. types of fertilizers, fungicides, etc.
  18. If possible, have all plants labeled
  19. By all means the hosts should wear name tags and make it a point to somewhere in your gardens to meet each guest and try to answer their questions.
  20. If you have a water garden, restrict access to the pond, particularly by the children. In most cases, as soon as people either see or hear the running water, they ignore the signs and run for the water so consider some simple measure like putting rope or short temporary fencing in front of certain entry to the water. Be prepared that even under the control of an adult, the first thing that a child will do is bend down, pick up a stone and toss it in the water. However, one of the fun things you will see a child do is to take the fish food that you will provide and feed the fish.

Media. You have gone to all of this work, but if no one comes to your party, you might be a little disappointed. Therefore, here are some suggestions. Prepare a one page press release along with  your favorite garden photo on a second page. Find out the name of the feature editor or local reporter for not only your local paper, but every daily and weekly paper within about a  30 mile radius. Consider making an in person visit to their office or phone call initial contact, then send them your press release, which should list dates and time of your event.  Compile a mailing list which will include area garden clubs, nurseries, regional gardening newsletters and magazines. By all means contact local senior centers and request that your release be posted on their bulletin boards. Tell them if your gardens are handicap accessible. Send invitations to your local elected officials; there attendance is a good photo opp. And, send invitations to local police and fire departments.

Insurance: Check to see if your homeowner insurance is up to date.

Conclusion: Have a guest register book at the welcome table so everyone can sign it as they leave and tell you how much they enjoyed their visit.

 

 
 
 

 

 

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