But I am just a grasshopper to some of the great senseis of the garden tour to be found online. Charlotte, who must be the Queen Bee of tours(or perhaps the Grand Doyenne) at The Galloping Gardener muses on how many gardens on tour is too many here. We don’t quite have that problem in our state…I”m still trying to convince the neighbors that the desire to garden isn’t a mental defect. Pam at Digging has taken more tours than are residents of my state, check out the “garden tours” category in her sidebar.
1. Don’t forget your camera, stupid. (This reminder is for myself. I would never be so curt with my readers. Twice this summer I have neglected to bring it to my regret.)
You never know which garden will be your Shangri-La of inspiration. Or maybe you collect pictures of garden horrors. Check your batteries and make sure you have space on your film card, too.
2. Pack for the Apocalypse: Mother Nature is a temptress. Umbrellas, coats, boots, bear spray, bug spray, sunscreen, etc. Alright, I was kidding about the bear spray.
3. Bring your own food if you're going to be hungry. Bring your own drink if you will be thirsty. Some tours will have food and drink, some will not.
4. Use the bathroom beforehand so as not to put yourself in the unenviable position of racing through the tour, leaping into your vehicle, and screeching off with pealing tires. Please, please do not ask the owner of a private residence to use the facilities. They probably haven’t swirled the toilet out.
True story: After dashing into the house to scrub some dirt from my hands fifteen minutes before a tour at my garden last year, I saw a strange woman leave my downstairs bathroom. “She said she got here early and had to go before the tour. What was I supposed to say?” said the LFG hubby. What a rotten butler. His instructions for this years’ ABG benefit tour: don’t answer the door.
5. Don’t show up early (and expect the guided tour). The owner of a private garden, anyway, is probably out working on finishing touches. That or trying very hard to relax i.e. taking a valium/having a primal scream. So refreshing.
6. Carpool when possible and be careful not to block anyone’s driveway. Some homes and neighborhoods are short on parking spaces and who wants to walk a mile from car to garden? Also, carpooling has the added benefit of companionship during the tour. Now you have someone with which to snidely remark “I would never grow that,” which is half the fun of a tour.
7. If the owner is on hand, thank them for sharing their garden. Compliment them if you enjoyed something in particular. If another person or persons approaches to speak to the owner, make your comments brief and move on. If your conversation is mutually fascinating, leave an email or a number to reach you (see number 8).
At so many of the tours, a “garden gabber” would regale the shell-shocked owner with a long history of everything they’ve ever grown (“…and my Uncle Davy used to grow that same rutabaga in northern Flagstaff, except he…”). All while others wishing to approach become weary of waiting and give up. It’s hardly fair to the owner and the other attendees to be a conversation hog.
8. Bring paper and a writing implement, or a gadget that makes lists.
I have watched people write plant names or nursery names on body parts, cups, and napkins. If you forget, you are sure to discover a plant or plant source you can’t do without that is unpronounceable or unspellable. “The nursery is just after the prison, a right turn, then straight until the rock that looks like a ladybug, then another right, then straight ahead until….”
9. Assuming the role of the host/hostess, when you are in fact, not, is most likely to annoy the real host/ess. I’m not making this one up: demerits for those that hold court in part of the garden, telling onlookers in a loud voice how invasive a plant is and irresponsible to grow it. (Just whisper it to your neighbor, if you must.)
I’m rather fond of grumpy old ladies, and hope to be one some day, but a grumpy old lady tried to usurp my hostess crown. Too bad the plant she was abusing loudly was not invasive, did not run by rhizomes, and was sterile, so no seedlings. She had no clue what she was talking about. I blithely moved to were she was mesmerizing a captive audience and denounced, in a most civil way, everything she said. She grumped off, dragging her husband behind her. Good riddance.
10. Leave things as you found them. Including berries, vegetables, flowers, garden art, tools, and if you have children with you (and I sometimes take mine on tours when appropriate), remind them about not pulling up the plant tags, if present. Plant tags seem to have the same magnetism for kiddy mitts that priceless crystal, irreplaceable artwork, and anything with frosting has.
Luckily, the birds eat my berries, the slugs eat my veggies, the garden art is deeply planted or too weird to steal, the tools are rusty, and the plant tags are non-existent or buried.
Thanks for letting me blow off some steam. I shall truly be cleansed from my garden tour demons once the post I’m writing about ways to survive giving a garden tour is finished, coming soon….
What makes taking a garden tour delightful/dreadful? Observed (or participated in) any faux pas on tour?