Cherished flowers and a Secret Garden Tour

At right is one of my most cherished flowers, made many summers ago, by my oldest niece, Sarah.Sarah's-flower2 One summer, we spent endless hours crafting all manner of flowers, animals and objects out of FIMO. We intended to sell all of our items on the main street of a town near our family cottage, Fort Qu’Appelle. My mum put a stop to that though, so I’ve ended up with a lovely and treasured collection. Sarah’s younger sister, Vanessa, also crafted many objects as well.

I apologise for not having done much blogging for several weeks, since I was busy preparing my garden for the Regina Secret Gardens Tour which was held from 18 July through 20 July. The Tour is a successful fundraiser for a wonderful local modern dance group, New Dance Horizons. It was an exhilarating and fascinating experience. The Tour was well organised and has been a popular summer event in Regina for the past eleven years.

It was with much trepidation that I prepared to open my garden to the public.Evolvulus-glomeratus-'Blue- There seemed endless tasks to accomplish which I am now  happy to have behind me.

My garden has always been an intensely private space for me and has rarely had more than a handful of people in it at one time. Contemplating strangers wandering about was disconcerting and a bit of an internal struggle.

Several days before the Secret Gardens Tour was to open, the participating gardeners and friends of New Dance Horizons had a pre-tour. It was so much fun getting to know other gardeners and having an opportunity to see their gardens. I anticipated that I would have a chance over the Tour weekend to spend time going through these gardens again. 

Little did I know then, that nearly 500 people would visit my garden, beginning last Friday evening. As a night garden on the Tour, I had spent much time arranging to have enough lighting so that the garden would be visible when darkness fell. I was so happy to find Shoji solar lanterns from a Canadian garden supply store. The lanterns were a huge hit, casting beautiful light and shadows in the garden and on the stenciled garage wall. I had help from my friend, Rox, who I dubbed my garden lighting consultant.Salvia-Guaranitica-Black-an

I had planned to take many photographs during the weekend, but found that I spent all my time answering questions and having lively discussions with the many gardeners who toured my garden throughout the weekend. 

Since the Secret Gardens Tour ended, I have spent most of my time sitting in the garden and enjoying it. Thankfully the Tour was last weekend, since we have since had a torrential rainstorm with hail and the next day, a thunderstorm that partially flooded the basement. The garden is looking somewhat battered, but many of the flowers (above left, the Evolvulus glomeratus ‘Blue Daze’  and, above right, the Salvia guaranitica ‘Black and Blue’) are blooming with abandon.

Now I have a renewed appreciation for the amount of time and effort that goes into opening one’s garden for a public tour.

51 thoughts on “Cherished flowers and a Secret Garden Tour

  1. Bob Pool says:

    I cannot imagine having 500 people through my garden. People with kids is bad enough. With five ponds and lots of large rocks the kids just cannot stay on the walkways. There is always plants damaged. But it’s an excuse to buy more. I like your blog.

  2. Pam/Digging says:

    Congratulations on your successful garden tour, Kate. 500 is a LOT of people, and I’ll bet you do feel great now that it’s over. 🙂 How nice to share your garden with so many others.

  3. LadyLuz (Pamela) says:

    What a wonderful scheme to link the event to fund raising. They have the National Gardens Scheme in UK and often film the gardeners preparing for openings. As you say, a lot of hard work, agonising, worrying whether the sun will shine and whether many will visit.
    D. is taking the opportunity, now that the garden is dormant in the heat, to work on his new mosaic while I’m endlessly tidying up the shedding blossoms and leaves.
    Enjoy drinking in the beauty of your garden.

  4. Aiyana says:

    I can imagine the work and worry that go into being a garden tour stop. However, it seems that it would validate your garden’s beauty with all the oohhs and ahahhs. Several people have suggested I should volunteer my garden for the annual MG tour, but I just can’t do it. I’m sort of a prefectionist about such things so it is easier for me to turn down any of those kinds of opportunities. I would drive myself nuts worrying and trying to make everything perfect.
    I wish I could have visited your garden during tour night!
    Aiyana

  5. Lisa at Greenbow says:

    You are brave Kate. Opening your garden to so many visitors. I am glad to hear that it was a positive experience.
    I just love to go on garden tours. I wish I could have gone through your garden, specially at night.
    It does take a lot of work to get ones garden ready for a tour. Any tour, even one that isn’t open to the public.
    The past two springs my DB and I have worked like dogs to prepare for special events. Whew. The good thing about that is that you sit back the rest of the summer admiring your work. Of course there are always weeds that pop up to keep your attention rivited on the garden but it is a nice feeling to have the major work accomplished.

  6. PG says:

    Oh Kate 500 visitors!!!!! Lucky them, if I had been there it would have been 501. Now you get to enjoy your garden I hope, and not do that gardener’s thing of sitting down for a few minutes, noticing something which ‘needs’ doing and getting up to attend it. (And they got to see it before the rain, which shows that God is a gardener). 🙂

  7. teeni says:

    Wow! I’m so glad you participated in that Secret Garden Tour! I am sure everyone who got to see your garden first-hand was impressed. I’m always impressed just by seeing photos on your blog! I bet that was a lot of work for you but how nice that you got to talk with and meet so many others with similar interests. Anyway, it must feel good now that it is over to just enjoy your own garden a bit! 🙂 Been thinking of you so I was glad to see this post! 🙂

  8. Annie in Austin says:

    Can you still call it a Secret Garden when 500 (500!) people have visited your Garden, Kate? So the dance group benefited from the tour, you met some congenial gardeners, your garden now has wonderful new lanterns and visitors went home inspired to create their own secret gardens….sounds like everybody wins!
    For some reason when I click on the lantern link it says “not found” but the word rittenhouse flashed at the bottom of your blog. Googling that got me to your lanterns.
    http://www.rittenhouse.ca/asp/product.asp?PG=1291
    They’re so pretty! It must have been a magical scene in your secret garden that night.
    Annie at the Transplantable Rose

  9. grannyfidler says:

    i thought 30 people in my back yard was a lot for the housewarming!!! so how many folks would have been in your garden at one time? well done… wish i lived close enough to have joined in… or brought a cool bottle of wine over after everyone had gone home.

  10. nikkipolani says:

    How wonderful is that, Kate! It does make you think of your garden differently when you are preparing for strangers’ eyes. The little imperfections and in-process areas seem suddenly in need of attention!

  11. Sarah Laurence says:

    Your niece is a very talented artist – I love the art of children. I’m relieved to hear that you’ve been busy gardening and that is what has distracted you from blogging. As it should. Summers up north are too short. Your blue daze is gorgeous. I’m sure everyone loved your garden. Too bad about the storm’s damage.
    Once I catch up on house stuff and unpacking I need to tend to my weed infested garden. It’s depressing. I’m afraid our urban native tenants had no time for the yard. At least the house is fine.

  12. Cis says:

    You must have quite the garden! 500 people! Whooosh. That’d keep you hopping!!!! You needed a week to sit in your garden and recoup from that. Sorry to hear your basement flooded.
    We had a bit of a hail storm a couple of weeks ago … shredded some of my leaves but no REAL damage.

  13. Cheryl says:

    How wonderful Kate….well done….I know there is so much work involved in opening your garden to the public……500 people that is amazing…..such an interesting post…sit back put your feet up and reflect……..

  14. sandyz says:

    oh wow, a secret garden tour, I would have loved to see that!!!!!!!!!!! Oh darn would have enjoyed photos too but surely understandable how busy you were. I will check out the links you dropped later when I have the time.
    glad you’re back.

  15. Weeping Sore says:

    What an incredible insight about how your garden is an “intensely private” place. And what courage to expose your private vision of paradise to the opinions of “strangers”.
    The best part of your post is your observation that about learning how garden lovers are never strangers, even if they’ve never met.
    Ok, no more excuses, get back to blogging!

  16. Geraldine says:

    Wow, that’s a lot of visitors Kate. We lived in Regina at one time; I don’t think I would have felt comfortable having so many strangers passing through the yard (such a crime rate there and all) glad things went well for you though. Don’t mean to rain on your parade…I’m sure your garden is amazing. Just visiting by your blog is wonderful. Glad you are back! G

  17. pRiyA says:

    hi kate, the crafted flower is indeed lovely and something to be truly treasured.
    500 visitors in your garden must have certainly felt daunting but in retrospect i’m sure you must have felt glad to share.

  18. irena says:

    500 visitors? that’s amazing. i’m sure each and every one was treated to a garden of earthly delights. congratulations on your successful garden tour.
    cheers
    irena

  19. maya says:

    Your garden must be a very special place and it must have been a great treat for the 500 guests you had.What a great idea the Secret Garden’s Tour is.

  20. Barbara says:

    I also love to go on garden tours, but I probably wouldn’t have the courage to open my garden for public. I’m sure all your 500 guests (what a big amount!!) enjoyed your garden very much. And you certainly have met a lot of interested (garden)people too. I am so glad that your gardentour was so successful! Now it is your turn again to enjoy your paradise!

  21. Debi says:

    A lovely fund raising idea. 500 people? No wonder you were tense and not a little disconcerted. Sounds like all went well and the garden was a hit. Secret Gardens are such fun!

  22. Pam says:

    My garden is a private space too (to me) – and I’m like you, I couldn’t imagine 500 people wandering through it (although it’s wonderful incentive to work hard and get alot done!). I tend to post very few ‘broad’ views of my garden (I just realized that) – and I’m sure there’s a desire for privacy there as well. However, what a good cause – and how nice to have your garden in ‘shape for company’ for you to now enjoy! (I really like those solar lights. I went to the website that described them – and I’ve been thinking that I need something to light up some corners of my one acre, and something solar would be easiest. Those lights are so pretty as well – thanks for the link).
    Enjoy sitting in your garden – perhaps you should sit there until the snow starts falling?

  23. walk2write says:

    Kate, you are to be commended for sharing your beautiful garden to help a charity. It seems so much more meaningful than just writing a check to help out. You deserve a rest!

  24. green thumb says:

    WOW! It all sounds so wonderful. I love the concept and wish i could experience your ‘secret garden’ in real time.
    For a change the hailstorm seems to have come at a slightly less bad time; seems to be the combined destiny of those 500 lucky visitors wishing to see your pretty garden.
    Although, I myself missed on writing my posts, but had been pretty regular in visiting all other blogs. Your long absence had me worried, but thank God everything is just fine:-)

  25. Wildlife Gardener says:

    How wonderful and brave of you, dear Kate 🙂
    I have been asked many times to open mine to the public, but though I have a huge succession of family and friends who come to visit the garden throughout the year, and passing adults who have heard of the garden and have come on a visit…I have always declined to open it up to the public because we have two ponds…and I am frightened children would find the ponds attractive and might return when we are not at home. I would never forgive myself if anything happened to one of them. As I was a schoolteacher in my professional life, I am so aware of the attraction of water to children. Although the children who might come would be accompanied by adults…they might still be tempted to come back alone…and there are quite a few children in the village too.
    Our garden and house are, more or less, hidden from the main road…and that’s the way I like to keep it, so that I can keep the ponds for all the wildlife which visits and lives in the garden.
    I have loved trawling through your recent posts which I missed since I was here last. Well done, Kate…a great achievement 🙂

  26. Crafty Gardener says:

    Way to go Kate, for opening your garden to a tour. I know that is something I could not do. We had had torrential rains as well, so many flowers washed down that led to so many beautiful vases of blooms.

  27. Sandy says:

    I knew you were busy with your garden tour. Wow, that is a lot of people. Your must really be in a gardening town.
    Take it easy for awhile, why don’t you?

  28. Linda O'Neill says:

    500 people!!? And I bet they were all blown away by your beautiful garden.
    Time for you to put your feet up and enjoy all your hard work with Lytton and a cup of tea by your side.:)

  29. Selma says:

    Oh, how I wish I could have visited your garden. I am sure it is a thing of beauty. What an amazing event. I’m sure you enriched the lives of so many people!

  30. Willow says:

    I can’t imagine having that many people visit my garden. What an amazing thing for you to do.
    The whole experience must have been alternating between exhilaration and exhaustion!

  31. sky says:

    you are a brave woman! i know it was exciting and exhausting!
    there is an extra http:// in your link to the lanterns and i suspect something else is not right. i finally got there though. 🙂

  32. Jon says:

    Kate, I commend you for being brave enough to open your private garden to such a large crowd to benefit the charity. Really, really nice of you. Just visiting your lovely blog is a treat so I can well imagine how delighted those 500 people seeing the real thing in person felt. I envy them!
    Jon at Mississippi Garden blog on 8-4-08

  33. our friend Ben says:

    Mercy, Kate! 500 visitors?!! Where did they all park?! But I love the idea of a lantern-illuminated night tour; surely that would make every garden look “secret” and mysterious. Perhaps I’ll find some solar lanterns and hang them in my trees just so we can enjoy the secret garden effect here. And I have to tell you, growing up in a Colonial home that had a continuously flooded basement, I sympathize with your predicament! Our basement flooded so often that our father maintained that an albino alligator lived down there…

  34. gerry rosser says:

    Thanks for visiting and commenting on my blog. I’ve just viewed yours briefly this Sunday morning, and am intrigued. I want to read your posts going back a ways.
    I viewed the YouTube video of the “Swimmers.” That young man has a beautiful voice.
    I am a convert to ornamental gardening in my adult life, starting about 10 years ago, with much to learn. Some of the flower photos I post on my blog, or on Flickr, are from my garden.
    Thanks again.

  35. joey says:

    Though exhausing with your keen eye for detail , I can think of nothing lovelier than opening your garden for a charity event, Kate. My garden has been on small tours so appreciate the effort. Wish I could have been one of the lucky 500 😉 Wishing you a delightful remains of summer.

  36. Wurzerl says:

    Dear Kate, I love your Salvia guaranitica what a great plant.
    I opened my garden this year for the first time at the last Sunday in June. It was very interesting for me to see 700 people in 7 hours at my 180 square meters. I hope you enjoyed your garden opening too.
    Have a great week Wurzerl

  37. gracia says:

    Sounds like such hard though ultimately rewarding work. Close to 500! Eep! I wish I could have been one of them.
    Bravo! And here’s to all your hard work!
    see you, g xo
    (And big thanks for the enchanting snail mail you sent my way. Just lovely. It brightened a grey day.)

  38. Carmen says:

    I also apologize for not being around the details of your lovely blog lately but i have been checking your pictures in flickr for sure!
    and here a hello:
    HELLO
    LOL
    love and light to you!

  39. Diana says:

    Kate – congratulations on your big success. How scary that must have been and how much WORK to open your gardens to GARDENERS!!!! We have a few of those lanterns you mentioned and they make the yard beautiful at night. Have fun relaxing in your perfectly groomed gardens.

  40. Di says:

    I know just how you feel because I was on the Genessee Land Trust Tour (390 people)in June and it absorbed most of my energy. Though I am very used to people wandering all over my property (I brought the next small tour through the house!) it was difficult to blog. Scabiosa is incredibly photogenic. Looks beautiful.

  41. chigiy says:

    Nice work on the garden tour. I wish I could have been there. I would love to tour your garden in person. What fun. I keep waiting for someone to ask me to have my garden on tour. I just keep waiting and waiting and waiting:)

  42. Shady Gardener says:

    We have a local annual garden tour where 4 – 6 people open their gardens for touring. I have agreed to do this next year. (It’s also a fund-raiser for a local non-profit organization.) I’m already trying to do a little planning ahead… I’m sure I’ll be well wrapped into the work next Spring.
    And I’m sure you’re enjoying your garden even more, now that the event is over. Did you have a good time???

  43. San says:

    I envy those who were able to walk through your garden. And I do appreciate the gorgeous glimpses you provide for us online viewers. You are most generous.

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