The prospect of having ones garden on tour is equal parts excitement, and dread. I know. It is my job early each season to persuade 6 gardeners, most of which are clients of mine, to open their garden to visitors. The fact that every ticket dollar goes to benefit the programs of the Greening of Detroit helps considerably. But a garden on tour implies a garden that is not only imaginatively designed, but well maintained. Getting a garden ready for an event is plenty of work. My garden has been on the Greening of Detroit tour every year since 2007. It seems fair. If I would ask someone else to put their garden on tour, I like to be able to say I am right there with them. We are on call at no charge for any participating gardener the 2 weeks before the tour. Every gardener with a garden on tour wants that garden to look its best. Our gardening season has been tough. A very cold and wet spring. Torrential rains, regularly. Storms and storm damage-everywhere. Last week, blistering and relentless heat. This giant tree limb came down across the street from me-just this past Friday.
I do the best I can to get my garden road ready for this tour. I would want every square inch of my landscape and garden to be thriving. Many of the people who take this tour are very interested gardeners. They look at what is there-intently. It is my idea to do whatever I can to encourage people to garden. Gardening is good for people-I truly believe this. But a garden has a tough side. The weather can be terrible. Plants die. Some days nothing seems to be right. Thee are those places that look rough. IO would not want that to discourage anyone. A garden tour is a visual expression about the value of a landscape and garden. That visual expression is not perfect, corner to corner. Gardens have problems and failures. Gaps. Troubles.
I never get my wish for a perfect tour garden. Every gardening season presents challenges. If I had my way, I would have no challenges the month before our tour. But in fact my garden has as many gaps and troubles as it has good moments. I have said this so many times to both old and prospective clients. Perfect applies only to diamonds, and moments. The most beautiful moment of a garden may last but a few hours, on that one day. Maybe no one else will be there to see it with you. Rough spots in a garden cannot always be fixed.
Having had my garden on tour, once a year, for the past seven years, I have this to say. The time and effort that it takes to maintain a landscape and garden is always evident. Those places that do not look so good-every gardener has them. The evidence of bad weather-that is a battle every gardener understands. I don’t fret about every square inch anymore. The people who take our tour seem to simply appreciate every gesture. They see things entirely differently than I do.
My yard was not at its finest this past Sunday. Even Buck remarked that my container plantings seemed listless-plagued by rain. He was right. No matter my efforts, the stormy weather prevailed. Was I worried the day of the tour? Not in the least.
Not one person who came to my house for the tour remarked about the Japanese beetle damage, the mildew on the dahlias, the rain soaked petunias, the rotting scotch moss or the delphiniums out of bloom and listing from the wind. Instead, to the last, they chose to thank me for opening my garden.
I am not so interested in the commentary about gardens. Go see gardens. Every garden you can. Absorb from them what seems pertinent. Take home what works, and do better. The tour seems to encourage people to go home, and take on a project. This is the best part of putting a garden on tour.
My landscape is a blueprint for my life. No matter the troubles. As for being on tour-I would hope that any person who came to my garden this past Sunday would not be discouraged by its failures. I would hope they would be encouraged by the care and energy I put to my landscape.