“Welcome to the garden” Tips on touring backyard gardens

Gussied up to rival Mother Nature herself, this flower-clad mannequin is the handiwork of Kingwood Garden Club members. All photos were taken at the Kingwood Garden Club 2019 Home and Garden Tour, a biennial event sponsored by the Kingwood Garden Club (est. 1973). www.kingwoodgardenclub.org Photos by Diane Morey Sitton.

Whether you are looking for landscaping ideas, information on plants, or simply want a day immersing yourself in beautiful gardens surrounded by like-minded folks, backyard gardens tours beckon.

Contemporary country charm (made popular by Joanna Gaines and her Fixer Upper enterprise) describes this spacious patio featured on the Kingwood Garden Club Home and Garden Tour.
Poolscapes range from tropical paradises to Mediterranean-inspired settings. They are frequently featured on backyard garden tours.

The self-guided treks, sponsored by Master Gardeners, garden clubs, environmental organizations, historical societies, and other organizations, are now in full swing in communities across Texas. Proceeds support scholarships, beautification projects, tree planting endeavors, and study/community programs.

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Members of the Kingwood Garden Club used pine cones, among other natural materials, to construct this floral fantasy peacock.

Although tours vary, most tour planners strive to include a variety of garden styles…everything from bird and butterfly gardens to cottage gardens to Asian-inspired landscapes. Special features seen on tours might include gazebos, outdoor kitchens, poolscapes, kids’ play areas, secret gardens, backyard fruit tree “orchards,” herb gardens, and even tree houses. Ideas and examples abound on paving and edging materials, water capturing systems, composting stations, how to include herbs and veggies in flower borders, and how to incorporate small chicken coops into suburban gardens. Usually, there is an abundance of container gardens and fairy gardens on display.

Succulents are made all the more captivating by appearing to grow from small pots within a pot.

While some events open the gardens and homes to ticket holders, most tours feature the landscape only. Often, sponsoring groups that possess a strong interest in floral design showcase their talent by creating arrangements and floral vignettes that enhance the theme of each home and garden. Look for these showstopping works of art on porches, patios, and at poolside. Indoors, they are displayed in entryways, living rooms, and kitchens, among other sites.

This Kingwood gardener grouped together a wood chair, a yellow watering can, and an ivy-filled container, creating an eye-catching display.
A floral picture frame in a scenic setting awaited folks on the Kingwood Garden Club Home and Garden Tour. Garden lovers posed behind the frame or enjoyed the “picture” as is.

Normally, tickets for backyard garden tours and home/garden tours are sold in advance at a slightly discounted price (non-refundable) at local nurseries, garden club headquarters, and other sites. Occasionally, advance tickets are available online. Otherwise, purchase a ticket on tour day either at one of the featured gardens or at a central ticket location (check the sponsor’s website for specific information.) Some one-day tours offer a rain date; others do not.

This cheerful entry alcove features a black, yellow, and white color palette—and sunflowers.

Usually, sponsoring organizations include a tour map with ticket purchase. Directional signs posted at intersections are helpful, too. If you are not familiar with the neighborhood, enter the addresses of the featured destinations into your phone or GPS.

Large containers filled with vibrant flowers help soften the transition from one garden room to another in this lakeside garden.

Wear comfortable shoes, wear a hat, and apply sunscreen. Take water (occasionally a homeowner provides bottled water). Make sure photos are permitted; usually, they are not permitted indoors.

Backyard garden tours often feature plant sales. Typically, the plants are grown by garden club members.

Also, get ready to shop. It is common for host organizations to schedule a plant sale and/or raffle in conjunction with the tour.

Shades of blue and coral unify this multi-level patio in Kingwood.

For those of you who haven’t yet discovered the fun of attending backyard garden tours, you are in for a treat. It’s likely you’ll discover a new plant, a new gardening technique, or, best of all, a new friend.

This cozy sitting area uses neutral tones and plants to say “welcome.”
Posted by Diane Morey Sitton
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