Thursday, March 17, 2011

An Inexpensive Gardening Education

There is no better way to learn about gardening and garden design than to go visit some really good gardens.  Every year, at about this time, I'm dreaming green.  I'm tired of black and white.  I'm ready for all the snow and ice to disappear from the New Hampshire landscape and, even though we still have mud season to get through, I can't wait to while away a few perfect summer days visiting some great gardens.

Right now, I'm anxiously awaiting the arrival of my copy of the Garden Conservancy's Open Days Directory so I can begin to plan those garden visits.  Every year, the Garden Conservancy publishes the Directory, which lists gardens all across the country, from California to Connecticut, that will be open to welcome visitors .  Many of these gardens are rarely--if ever--open to the public.  This year, there are more than 300 gardens scheduled to participate, beginning in March and ending in early November.  There are gardens that range in size from very large estates to small, intimate sanctuaries and they represent the very best in garden design and innovative horticultural practice.

While we have been spending our winter time here shoveling snow and worrying about how our plants are coping, the staff at the Garden Conservancy has been hard at work putting together this year's Open Days program.  It's a daunting organizational effort that's handled seamlessly by Laura Palmer and her team of experts in Cold Spring, New York.  Each year, I'm even more amazed at how they pull this off!  They will be the first to tell you, however, that they could never do it without the help of almost 250 volunteers spread across the country.

The Open Days Program Staff
rear: Stephanie Werskey (L), Laura Palmer
front: Brianne Lyvers (L), Erin Plimley
It only costs $5 to enter each Open Days garden and all of the proceeds go toward the fine work that the Garden Conservancy does in preserving America's exceptional gardens.  If you'd like, you can also become a member of the Garden Conservancy which entitles you to discounts on garden admissions and a free copy of the annual Directory.

This year, the first garden opens on March 26th in Houston, Texas.  Here in New Hampshire and Vermont, there are gardens open on July 9th, 10th, and 23rd and on August 6th and 7th.  There will be more details about the New Hampshire and Vermont gardens in upcoming posts on this blog.

Occasionally, we all need a break from our own gardens.  Get ahold of a copy of the Open Days Directory and plan your little mini-escape now.  You'll see some really great gardens, meet some very interesting and inspired gardeners, and return home with a fresh perspective on how you can improve your own garden.  It will be the best, and least expensive, gardening education you'll ever receive!

For more information on purchasing tickets, a copy of the Open Days Directory, and a complete schedule of open gardens, you can visit the Garden Conservancy's website.


  1. Your opening photo shows a garden in Peterborough, NH... does this mean the Monadnock region will be on the tour this year? We really enjoyed that collection of gardens last year.

  2. There will be an entirely new collection of five great gardens open in the Monadnock Region on August 7th. And, on August 6th, there will be 3 wonderful gardens open in the nearby Walpole, NH area. It should make a great weekend of garden visiting! You can check out the Garden Conservancy's website for more details as the schedules are published, and keep your eye on this blog for more info as the date approaches.--Joe

  3. Hi Joe
    I thought of you when I saw this blog... might be of interest
    The two in mind...An Apothecary's Garden and Know Gardens...
    I can appreciate your anticipation of this Garden Directory. I am a member of the Royal Horticultural Society and we have a similar directory. Just wish I could see them all!


  4. Hi, Jeanne: For our readers, Jeanne is an ex-pat from New England, now living in the UK, who keeps her eyes and ears on the gardening scene there. Thanks, Jeanne for this link! It's great to see that the tradition of English manor house gardening is being transplanted to New Zealand. And, that they're doing it organically and also including a focus on rare breed animals! It will be fun to watch this estate develop over the years!--Joe


Thank you for your comments!

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...