- In public gardens, follow the rules. These may include walking on paths rather than grass, no sports (this is a garden, after all, and not a park - and just imagine what a soccer ball in the irises will do!), no littering (obviously!), no fishing/feeding wildlife (again, not a park), and no food. Each public garden has its own rules so check at the visitor center or watch for posted signs.
- Do NOT walk in the flower beds - this applies to any garden. This applies to children and pets, too! Gardeners work hard for that loamy, perfect soil and don't want it trampled and compacted.
- Do NOT pick flowers or take cuttings unless invited. This seems to be a common complaint during garden tours. A friend found a visitor to her garden scooping up a plant with a plastic spork during a garden tour a few years back . . . can you imagine? The Spork Lady even had a pocketful of sandwich bags to transport her booty . . .
- Watch your children, just as you would if visiting someone's home - they shouldn't pick or tear or eat (and I add that from personal experience with a pansy-loving 3-year old) flowers/foliage, throw mulch (a favorite activity of some toddlers we know) or walk through the beds. Many public gardens have areas just for children with flowers they can touch and smell . . . check it out! My advice to garden tour hosts - have an area for children - maybe a small container of water with floating toys or bottles of bubbles in a grassy area where they can play, or some cut flowers that they can smell and touch. After all, you could be cultivating a new generation of gardeners!
- And for garden tour hosts - don't be offended by visitors who make negative comments or who are not interested in your prized roses. It's not personal. Also, if you're participating in a large tour anticipate the problems - for instance, someone will probably ask to use your restroom or peek inside your house. A former co-worker who's an old pro at this tells visitors that their insurance doesn't allow tour visitors inside the house . . . it probably doesn't fool the guests, but it does work. Also, if the weather is warm (as it often is during garden tour season), a nice touch is to have water or lemonade for guests . . . your thoughtfulness may inspire the Spork Lady to sheath her spork!
Gardens pictured: Biltmore and Sarah P. Duke