You can imagine the behind-the-scenes preparation. Even with several weeks notice, there was manic weeding, edging and mowing to do the day of the tour. And there were doubts. My garden was one of five selected by the Thunder Bay Horticultural Society for a weekday evening tour for their members. I thought, "This is an informed audience. Surely they will notice the insect damage on my begonias."
Then, as both gardening acquaintances and people I didn't know came though the gate, I felt my doubts fade. And I learned some nice things.
For five growing seasons, I've worked to create a personal space that is both beautiful and healthy. I am always 'up close' with my flowering perennials and my vegetables which means I naturally focus on the 'pieces' of the garden. As people strolled about, they commented freely on my garden 'as a whole'. The few plants that didn't get deadheaded and the pots that offered fewer-than-hoped-for blooms suddenly seemed unimportant.
I discovered that people were responding to the way my garden made them feel. Several described my garden as 'calming'. I thought, "Really? That's how this green space feels to you? Wow, that is nice."
Now you cannot analyze that feeling; it would be like trying to bottle the light fragrance of the evening air. You would be considering the 'parts' of the garden – the many shades of green the hostas infuse into the shade border, the punch of red coleus and coral impatiens, the feather reed grasses catching the lowering evening sun. No, it's the 'whole' of it that is calming. I know this, and yet, it took the tour and those comments to know it again.
That evening nearly 50 people visited my garden. Over the past 10 years, I've worked on the Thunder Bay Art Gallery Garden Tour – an important annual fundraiser – as a Master Gardener volunteer, answering garden question and talking about featured plants. But sharing your own garden in a public way feels different. I have a new appreciation for the generosity of gardeners who agree to be on annual tours.
You are welcome to come through the gate too. Here's a short morning tour.