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Garden Tours
by Rebecca Kangas
by Rebecca Kangas


Rebecca Kangas lives in Thunder Bay, Ontario. She has a husband, 3 children and many plants! Rebecca is also a Master Gardener, and is currently working towards her Diploma in Horticulture.

She also writes horticulture articles for the local Finnish newspaper, Canadan Sanomat.

Rebecca believes in organic gardening, and enjoys teaching her children, friends and readers about the benefits of horticulture.

August 17, 2003

Throughout the summer months, there is nothing I look more forward to than garden touring. A group of my friends and I allow our husbands to spend quality time with the children (and, we must admit we leave with the best intentions...), and off we go. The morning always, and I mean always, starts off quite chaotic. Being the busy moms we are, we forget things. Cameras, batteries, film...but never the coffee. But, thankfully, the busy morning ends as soon as we enter the first tranquil garden. The one thing I enjoy most about garden tours is actually meeting the person behind the creation. I find most people started out the same way I did, with a very unkept bare patch of land. It really is interesting to see the transformations that people are capable of.

The great thing about local garden tours is the plants most people choose for their gardens can pretty much grow in yours, in regards to hardiness zones. This makes for a quick lesson in landscape design. For instance, colour. Many of us began gardening completely clued out as to what colour will bring out the next, and how to arrange such a wide variety of plant material, especially foliage plants. And, where on earth does the garden room go...the arbour...the pond?!? Take a look around you, and some of your answers will be solved. And, you will stand there like I have saying, "and why couldn't I think of that?".

Garden tours offer a variety of gardens which are great for getting creative unique ideas. Although you may take a picture of a gorgeous pond surrounded in plants, chances are if you created a similar pond you would choose different plants, or a different shape of pond, which in the end would turn out to be your creation. Many people I know are afraid of recreating an idea of someone else's, but if you see something you like, snap a picture and go for it! The gardens which I enjoy most are one's with slight devastation from insects. It may sound crazy, but what a better way to learn about how to identify insect or disease damage than from a garden? When I began gardening, this is how i learned. I always found identification books good, but the real thing is much better.

The ornaments people choose are very fascinating! I though I was different using large glass wine bottles (the type used for gallons of wine). One home on the tour, believe it or not, they used a large satellite dish (the big black eyesore!) and turned it into a roof on a gazebo. Wrought iron was used as 4x4's would be used as a pergola, and you would never know it was a large eyesore at one time. Now that is different, and it turned out so beautiful! Another garden had used the concrete rhubarb leaf mould for huge stepping stones, which I thought she spent a fortune at the nursery! And luckily, she told me how to make them. If I ever become successful at it, I will share her wonderful idea with you all, but I have to get the hang of it first!

Needless to say, there are so many positive aspects about touring local gardens. You may go home wishing your property is larger (I have!), but for the most part you can pick up ideas on how to create a space for you, and one that you love. I personally would be petrified to go to a warmer climate and fall in love with plants that I could not possibly grow in my hardiness zone. And no matter how much you like or don't like someone's garden, thank them. They have opened up their sanctuary to a bunch of people who they don't know. I also thank the people who make the regulations ... my favourite being NO CHILDREN UNDER THE AGE OF 12!!!

Happy gardening!



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