“Welcome to the garden” Tips on touring backyard gardens
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Also, get ready to shop. It is common for host organizations to schedule a plant sale and/or raffle in conjunction with the tour.
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.