When you are looking for inspiration or a fresh boost of creativity, public spaces like botanical gardens are always an option, but one resource that tends to be overlooked is garden tours.
While botanical gardens are always breathtaking, they can be harder to translate into a residential space at times, which is why garden tours provide an excellent opportunity to take a peek in the private gardens that are noted as exceptional.
Since 1995, the Garden Conservancy has held the Open Days program, which is a series of private garden tours that start in the early spring and continue into the fall every year. Inspired by England’s National Gardens Scheme, Page Dickey and Penelope Maynard reached out to Garden Conservancy with 110 private gardens that would be open for touring that year.
Ever since then a network of volunteers have worked to scout and recruit gardens for the Open Days Program and each year nearly 3,000 open. Self-nomination applications are also accepted in areas where the program is already established.
These gardens are often rarely, if ever, open to the public otherwise so Open Days provides you with a way to see green spaces that otherwise would remain cloistered away from curious eyes.
Some of the upcoming Open Days where there will be multiple locations to choose to visit include Martha’s Vineyard, Massachusetts, on July 8, Milwaukee, Wisconsin, on July 16 and Chicago’s North Shore on July 23. For a full list of the Open Days and to search for gardens open in your area, click here.
The admission fee is typically $7 dollars per person, but tickets that are purchased online in advance are discounted.
The Garden Conservancy isn’t the only organization that puts together these private garden tours. Other organizations like the Association of Northwest Landscape Designers (ANLD) also puts together yearly tours that show landscape designers’ creative solutions to a range of problems.
During some tours, the homeowners are present so you can discuss with them their experience and the process they went through with the designers and contractors, gaining insights not only on landscape design but handling customer relations the right way.
The ANLD Designers Garden Tour also includes portfolios of its tours, so even if you can’t make it out to tour the space in person you can still glean insights from the photos and stories.
Many communities use these private garden tours to raise money for various causes. So next time you hear of one in your area, consider participating to see these cream of the crop landscapes and find the spark you’re looking for.