How many times have you visited a friend’s garden and heard “I wish you’d been here last week, when everything was in bloom.”? I hope we have all mastered the basics of garden tour etiquette and know enough to praise the garden we’re visiting, whether or not we are impressed by it.
We all want to show off our gardens at their best, so it takes a lot of heart to open you garden to tours. It also takes a lot of effort. Gardeners work around the clock to whip their gardens into shape for a tour date, fighting weather, animals, pests and unknowns. Let’s show them we appreciate the work and vision they put into their gardens and the generosity they show by sharing them with us.
Most public gardens post their own rules of garden visit etiquette and many of those are included here. We need to be even more courteous when someone opens their private gardens to us. Following garden tour etiquette makes the visit more enjoyable for everyone involved.
Garden Visit Etiquette
- You’re a guest, be courteous. The host is probably nervous enough; if you don’t find the garden up to par, hold your tongue until you leave.
- If it’s an organized tour, be on time.
- Park your car in the designated areas.
- Ask permission before taking photographs and don’t think no one will notice if you use your phone camera.
- Turn off your cell phone. If you absolutely must take calls, do so away from other visitors.
- Be courteous when the tour guide is speaking.
- Stay on the paths. Do not walk into the garden beds.
- Be especially considerate when visiting a private garden. Gardeners put in enormous effort to make their gardens ready for a tour, so they probably have neglected inside the house. Don’t peak in windows and don’t ask if you can use the bathroom.
- If you bring your children, keep an eye on them. Don’t let them run through beds, pick flowers, climb trees or rocks, throw dirt, or upset the dog. Don’t let them wear wheelies or bike into the garden.
- Don’t be afraid to ask questions.
- Don’t try to be the expert. It’s the host’s day to shine.
- Don’t take seeds or cuttings without asking permission.
- Don’t bring your lunch unless you know there are picnic tables available. Please clean up after yourself.
- Don’t pull markers out of the ground to read.
- Resist the temptation to pull weeds. They may prized natives.
- Don’t bring your dog, no matter how well behaved. Guide dogs, of course, expected.
- Thank your host, on leaving.
- For organized group tours of a private garden, it is customary to bring a host/ess gift with you. Just a small thank you; something like a special plant, a book or a box of chocolates. A thank you note following the visit is always welcome.