Sunday, July 19, 2009

5 Tips for Taking Garden Tours

"A garden never looks perfect; something is always dying, something about to bloom."

Nigel Nicolson (son of Vita Sackville-West and Harold Nicholson) 1993

Anyone who has shown their garden on a garden tour has uttered these very same words. The garden is never quite perfect no matter how hard you try to make it so. The gardener just has to relax and let nature unfold as it will, and they know that other gardeners will understand when you relate how you have been fighting with the quirrels to keep the plants in the containers. Or how you find your radishes all over the backyard, yanked out of the veggie garden, tasted and then spit out so you can't even enjoy them. And then the days you had planned to spend getting the garden absolutely perfect are gone or rather rained out by a deluge of rain. Relax, nature has it's own plans. So now we are on the week count-down to garden tour day. We have the hosts tour on Thursday night.

Those who will be out touring our gardens are sure to find lots to inspire them. When touring gardens you should keep these 5 tips in mind:

1. Remember you are touring someone's private sanctuary, so be respectful and don't step in the garden beds to check out a new plant and don't take any cuttings when the home owner isn't watching. Instead ask the gardener if you can purchase a cutting or have a piece next time they are dividing their perennials. Gardeners are a generous group and usually happy to share plants.

2. If you are taking pictures, ask first. Most gardeners are pleased to show off their gardens an happy to have you take photos. And iof you are using a tripod, don't put it in the beds.

3. Use the gardens for inspiration - look for new plant and colour combinations or a nifty new garden art idea you can recreate at home. Like the Pot Person I photographed in a Montreal garden.

4. Ask questions, the gardener is always eager to share their knowledge and swap tips and ideas, whether it is about new plants you see or a new technique that may improve your landscape.

5. Remember to thank your host. Gardeners go to a lot of work to make their garden available to the public and volunteer a day of their time, so tell them you appreciate it.

And lastly, if the garden has a guest book, please sign it. This is our third time participating in the Bracebridge Garden Tour and we love to see where people have come from to go on the tour. Then go back home and add a new idea or two you picked up on the tour in your own garden.

Happy Touring!!!

Sunday, July 5, 2009

The Beauty of Raindrops

I remember that old saying from my childhood "Rain, rain go away, come again another day."
Well this past week we've had rain everyday.
So much so that I haven't been able to get out in the garden to work and enjoy. My peonies are done, bent over to the ground, the petals soggy and brown under the week's rain. Yet rain isn't all that bad. For one thing I love the sound of rain as it falls to earth, there is something soothing about that pitter pat, the second thing is the beauty of raindrops on flowers, I simply love to photograph raindrops on roses and on foliage like this Lady's Mantle which captures the drops like shining diamonds. The final thing is that the plants love the moisture, spurning on growth.
Today the sun was shining and as I toured the garden I was amazed at the lushness of growth. My garden is almost a jungle. As my friend Barbara commented in her blog on the stage of her garden versus last year, I am sure that mine is well ahead of last year in actual growth. My Hostas are huge, the Nannyberry has seemed to sprout overnight, the Ninebark stems are arching out and over the Queen of the Prairie. In the veggie garden, the tomatoes are doing well, the potatoes have sprouted, the beans are well established and we've even had a few radishes already.
I've been continuing to weed and mulch, the garden tour is just three weeks away but I think we will be ready. Peter, my tools and project guy, has just started clearing the corner around our big pond to build a waterfall. He is using a stryofoam cooler as the water reservoir which will be hidden with rocks and I plan on planting some grasses among the rocks as this is a full sun location now. I hope it looks as good as I imagine it will and the best part will be the sound of the water as it cascades and tumbles over the rocks. I'll post a photo when it's finished.
But as I sit here this evening musing on the past week, the sky is clouding over again and my husband has just told me that rain is yet again in tomorrow's forecast. So much for garden work, I guess I'll just have to be content taking a break and enjoying the sound of raindrops and the beauty they bring.