‘Tis the season to snoop

Clematis archI love crashing strangers’ backyards and having a good, long snoop around. There’s so much to see and, when you’re with a like-minded chum, so much fun to be had pointing out what strikes your eye and sharing your opinion. Lots of opinions. Ah, yes. It’s garden tour time.

Garden tours are like all-you-can-eat buffets except that instead of food, you scoop up ideas. And you’re not going to one buffet, you’re going to a string of buffets. With some walking in between. What I love most about garden tours is how much you can get out of them–discovering new plants, for sure, but also garden design ideas and novel approaches to patios, decks, outdoor staircases, garden beds, ponds, pools, pathways, arches, gazebos, garden sculpture, and on and on.

The Toronto Botanical Gardens’ annual Through The Garden Gate event, the big grand-daddy of all tours in Southern Ontario, is happening this weekend, this time in Lawrence Park. If you’re in the area, you may still be able to score some tickets.

But the TBG’s tour isn’t the be-all and end-all. In fact, taking a garden tour hosted by a smaller, local horticultural club or association can be more fun because they tend to be less crowded (and less expensive). And you learn more about that neighbourhood, whether it’s far from home or right around the corner. For instance, the Woodbridge Horticultural Society’s Garden Tour, happening June 20th, includes some gardens situated along the banks of the Humber River. FULL DISCLOSURE: My brother and his wife are very much involved in the WHS and their annual tour. To hear them talk about the challenges in pulling off a tour every year and then to experience the enjoyable results has made me an avid fan of garden tours with admiration for all who volunteer their time to organize them.

There are plenty of garden tours scheduled right through to the end of July in communities throughout Southern Ontario. Check out Garden Ontario’s garden tour schedule for dates and locations. Happy exploring!


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