Tuesday, May 4, 2010

First, Do No Harm

First, Do No Harm - this sums up Garden Etiquette, don't you think? When you visit a garden, whether public or private, you simply need to observe common courtesies and common sense. So here's my quick list of Etiquette Guidelines for garden tours, public gardens, and the garden down the street.

  • 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!

I hope you enjoy the spring gardening season. I'd love to hear your thoughts about Garden Etiquette . . . or your war stories!

Gardens pictured: Biltmore and Sarah P. Duke

1 comment:

  1. very cute! i'd like to think we don't need garden etiquette... but then i'd also like to think someone wouldn't carry a spork for digging.


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