Nine Reasons to Take a Garden Tour

August 2, 2015
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Master Gardener Tour Garden

The Manitoba Master Gardener Association Garden Tour
reminds me of the reasons I like garden tours

Over the course of this summer, I’ve seen notices for several different garden tours in my home city of Winnipeg, Manitoba. Put on by different organizations as fundraisers, they give you a look into interesting, unusual, and beautiful private gardens. My schedule has not allowed me to attend all the tours, but two friends and I went on the tour offered by the Manitoba Master Gardener Association in mid-July. It featured nine gardens in the southern part of the city. We had hoped to visit five or six of the gardens, but managed to get to all nine. I’m glad we made it to all of them, because each one offered something unique. Together, they reminded of the reasons garden tours are so great, whether you are an active gardener yourself or not.

Tour sign

Nine Reasons to Take a Garden Tour:

1. Explore unfamiliar neighbourhoods

The tour may take you into areas of your city you don’t usually get to. You may discover a tree-lined street, inviting houses, and a friendly neighbourhood.


2. Learn about new plants and varieties


One of the gardeners had carrots left from last year’s crop.
Bolero carrots handle long-term storage well.

Spanish Musica beans

The same gardener grows Spanish Musica beans up metal arbours

I learned about Haskap berries, an oblong blue berry, the taste of which has been likened to a combination of blueberry and raspberry. The plants had finished producing for the season, but a guide at one of the gardens found a few berries left and I was able to taste one.

3. Obtain garden design ideas and find ways to incorporate garden art

Garden art





Garden door

Maybe consider incorporating an old door?

4. Discover gardening techniques

While some of the designs and techniques we encountered were better suited to large yards, many could be adapted to smaller lots and even apartment balconies. I downsized last summer. I no longer have a large garden. The lawn is maintained by the condo association and I cannot dig any of it up to create a garden. But I have a couple of small flower beds next to the house which are my responsibility and a deck and a patio. I was surprised to discover all the gardening possibilities open to me.  Although I now have lots of ideas, I need to keep in mind that part of the rationale for downsizing was to reduce the yard work.

Raise square foot garden beds

Raised garden beds for square foot gardening,
the practice of dividing the gardening area into small sections

Vertical greens garden

Vertical garden made from eavestroughing (gutters).
When the owners want a salad, they bring the bowl outside and snip the greens into it.

Front yard garden

These home owners replaced the front lawn with perennial grasses and flowers.
This was only one of several gardens on the tour where dill grew throughout the garden.

garden drainage

Water drainage path built to catch rainwater runoff to water the garden

Three gardeners tackled unique situations (gardening amid flood protection and permaculture) so intriguingly that I have decided to write about them in a separate post.

5. It’s fun to daydream

Shady resting spot

Imagine resting in these shady spots

Fire pit by the river

Imagine an evening around the fire

Garden shed

Imagine having this garden shed

Garden dining shed

Imagine elegant dining inside the shed

6. Surprise free things

Apple Platz and the apple tree

One of our garden hosts offered Apple Platz (a Mennonite type of coffee cake),
made with apples from their own tree

At one garden, an official Monarch Waystation, I received a small swamp milkweed plant. Monarch butterflies like milkweed.


Milkweed (it may take years for mine to look like this)

7. Be reminded that life is full of possibilities and miracles, and beauty and value can be found in unlikely places

On ordinary streets, behind average houses with nothing to indicate anything special, we discovered lush oases.



This garden is less than 8 years old

8. Be inspired to keep trying (at gardening or any other endeavor)

When you talk to the gardeners you find out that things didn’t always work out as initially planned. They have tried new approaches, learned from mistakes, and adapted to Mother Nature.

Garden signs

9. (the best reason of all) Experiencing beauty is good for the soul.





What do you like about garden tours?

Reasons to take a Garden Tour #gardens

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  • Reply
    August 2, 2015 at 8:58 am

    I love Garden tours! I have tried to go on many of them in the various cities that I ahev lived. It’s amazing how different they are, depending on what part of the country you visit. This one looks extraordinary. I’ve never been on a garden tour that had vegetables!

    • Reply
      Donna Janke
      August 3, 2015 at 10:08 am

      I would find the differences in gardens in different parts of the country interesting – different growing conditions, etc. lead to different approaches, plants and styles. Several of the gardens on this tour had vegetables. The ones highlighted in my post were from one garden where the whole side of the yard was garden with paths through it. Vegetables and flowers grew intermixed.

  • Reply
    Sabrina Q.
    August 2, 2015 at 7:21 pm

    What beautiful gardens photos! Thanks for sharing. I enjoy going to gardens tours too. It’s amazing what they can do. It gives me inspiration for my own garden.

    • Reply
      Donna Janke
      August 3, 2015 at 10:09 am

      Sabrina, I too find it inspiring to see what other gardeners create.

  • Reply
    August 3, 2015 at 1:24 am

    What beautiful gardens. I often wonder how many hours one spends maintaining their garden – you know….. the ones that look immaculate.

    In my home town, several residents have an “open house” where you can go and view their gardens and take photographs. Perhaps this will give me some inspiration as my garden does need an up lift.

    • Reply
      Donna Janke
      August 3, 2015 at 10:10 am

      Phoenicia, I imagine these gardeners spend a lot of time on their gardens – it is their passion.

  • Reply
    Catarina Alexon
    August 3, 2015 at 6:55 am

    Beautiful pictures. Personally love flowers, gardens and nature as a whole. Must admit though that I can’t remember the last time I did a gardening tour. Having said that such tours are popular all over the world. Most likely the visitors love gardening themselves. I never have and doubt that I ever will:-)

    • Reply
      Donna Janke
      August 3, 2015 at 10:12 am

      Catarina – gardening isn’t for everyone. But one can still appreciate the work of others. I’ve done some gardening in my life and enjoyed it, but am at a point now where I don’t want to invest too much time into it. I still like to tour gardens though and see what beautiful things others create.

  • Reply
    August 3, 2015 at 9:36 am

    I’ve never heard of a garden tour where you go and visit ordinary people’s gardens. How fun! The pictures were beautiful and I want to spend hours sitting in those chairs around the campfire by the lake. We aren’t even supposed to water our lawns here in California due to the draught so it is nice to see such beauty sitting right in people’s yards.

    • Reply
      Donna Janke
      August 3, 2015 at 10:15 am

      Erica, there are several such tours of “ordinary gardens’ in my home town. Unlike you, we’ve had quite a bit of rain this summer. I recently visited Vancouver on Canada’s west coast. They are also experiencing a drought and have watering restrictions in place. In previous visits, gardens looked so lush and green. Not this year – lots of brown.

  • Reply
    August 3, 2015 at 6:36 pm

    I used to go to garden tours in Chicago and even though they always ended in a beer tent the concept of seeing these gorgeous gardens was very cool. I love the one with the shed by the river. I could myself there.

    • Reply
      Donna Janke
      August 4, 2015 at 5:32 pm

      Tim, unfortunately this tour didn’t end in a beer tent, but the gardens were gorgeous. That shed by the river was quite a surprise.

  • Reply
    Ken Dowell
    August 3, 2015 at 8:51 pm

    I have another one. If you’re like me, it might inspire you to pull the weeds in your own garden, something I am otherwise loathe to do. Some beautiful photos, Donna. Your blog has virtually bloomed.

    • Reply
      Donna Janke
      August 4, 2015 at 5:33 pm

      Ken, I too need something to inspire me to pull weeds – not my favourite job.

      • Reply
        Rose Mary Griffith
        August 8, 2015 at 2:58 pm

        Hi both Donna and Ken. I am known as the Mad Weeder. I love to weed! Sick, isn’t it? I weed and my husband plants. Donna, this garden tour was spectacular. Thank you for sharing. I’m sitting on my deck, looking at how we have transformed the Hill from Hades over the last six summers…and you’ve given me more ideas of what to do next!

  • Reply
    August 4, 2015 at 8:12 am

    Beautiful pictures Donna! Those carrots really caught my eye. They looked so fresh. We have garden tours in our area too but, I’ve never gone to one. I appreciate living vicariously through your post!

    • Reply
      Donna Janke
      August 4, 2015 at 5:35 pm

      Thanks Pat.

  • Reply
    Susan Cooper/
    August 4, 2015 at 12:12 pm

    I do enjoy garden tours. I don’t do enough of them. With our ongoing drought, I am envious of the all the green in your images.

    • Reply
      Donna Janke
      August 4, 2015 at 5:37 pm

      Susan, we’ve had a reasonable amount of rain this summer and no watering restrictions. I feel for you and the drought. Hopefully you get some good amounts of rain soon.

  • Reply
    August 4, 2015 at 12:36 pm

    I really enjoy garden tours. My favorite tour here on Maui is the Upcountry Lavender Farm which is located high up on the slopes of Mt. Haleakala. When I used to travel out of the country a lot on business I always tried to organize my schedule so I could be someplace relaxing over the weekend and would often roam the local gardens and zoos. Some of my favorite gardens were in Melbourne. As always, love your photos Donna!

    • Reply
      Donna Janke
      August 4, 2015 at 5:38 pm

      Thanks. I love lavender when it’s in bloom, so would like to take that tour in Maui.

  • Reply
    Jeri Walker (@JeriWB)
    August 5, 2015 at 12:04 am

    I will readily admit being a garden peeping tom! I love to look at gardens for all the different reasons you’ve listed here. I need to get better at picking plants that work with the high desert climate I’m in, but the live and learn aspect of gardening is perhaps the most fun part.

    • Reply
      Donna Janke
      August 6, 2015 at 8:19 am

      Jeri, there certainly is a live and learn aspect to gardening. It takes time and patience and luck to find the plants that work best in one’s particular environment. The thing with the master gardeners is that they never seem to tire of trying and experimenting.

  • Reply
    August 5, 2015 at 7:41 am

    Now I know where you got the idea of adding dill to your flower beds. Doesn’t that look amazing. i can hardly wait to try. Being such a garden lover I still have to admit that I have never gone on a garden tour but I can see what I have missed. I’ve pinned some of my favourite photos – 1 and 3 – to my beautiful garden board and the whole post to my Pinterest site. Thanks so much for taking us along on this tour.

    • Reply
      Donna Janke
      August 6, 2015 at 8:20 am

      Lenie, I usually get a few ideas I can use from a garden tour, but even if I don’t, it’s fun to see how creative and beautiful the gardens are.

  • Reply
    August 5, 2015 at 10:21 pm

    Such stunning photos Donna! They truly show the attention to detail and craft behind gardening. Even as memorable are the personalities behind these natural havens.

    • Reply
      Donna Janke
      August 6, 2015 at 8:22 am

      Tatia, it does take attention to detail (along with a lot of patience, experimenting and passion for gardening) to create these beauties.

  • Reply
    August 6, 2015 at 11:57 am

    How absolutely lovely! Personal home gardens are my favorite! so much love and care is put into creating them. I believe the home garden has a different energy than the manicured estates.

    • Reply
      Donna Janke
      August 6, 2015 at 5:13 pm

      Pamela, I hadn’t considered that there was a different energy to home gardens, but you are so right – that is part of the appeal.

  • Reply
    Mina A Joshi
    August 6, 2015 at 12:35 pm

    They often have open garden days in my area but I have never been to see them as I am always busy and never think about them on a weekend. Looking at your post has got me motivated. So many beautiful gardens and so many simple ideas!!

    • Reply
      Donna Janke
      August 6, 2015 at 5:14 pm

      Mina, it’s nice to hear this motivated you. I am also surprised at what brilliant and simple ideas I find on a garden tour.

  • Reply
    Jeannette Paladino
    August 7, 2015 at 11:22 pm

    Donna — what a lovely gallery of gardens! Thanks for this virtual tour. I’m not a gardner myself but I admire the effort that goes into creating a beautiful garden. It’s been many years since I visited Longwood Gardens in Pennsylvania but I still remember what a breathtaking experience it was.

    • Reply
      Donna Janke
      August 9, 2015 at 7:43 am

      Jeanette, one needn’t be a gardener to appreciate the gardens on these tours. I’ve not been to Longwood Gardens but have heard about it from others. I will certainly visit if I get to Pennsylvania.

  • Reply
    Jason @
    August 8, 2015 at 8:55 am

    I’ve never been on a garden tour. It seems like it would be pretty cool though.

    • Reply
      Donna Janke
      August 9, 2015 at 7:44 am

      Jason, it’s easy to imagine relaxing in some of the gardens (especially if someone else were maintaining them!)

  • Reply
    Anita and Richard @ No Particular Place To Go
    August 8, 2015 at 9:23 am

    I used to love to garden and used my time digging in the soil and tending plants as a sort of way to unplug from everyday stresses. At some point in our travels we hope to set up an apartment as a base somewhere and I love the idea of creating a patio or vertical garden of edibles and flowers. Great nourishment for both body and soul! Anita

    • Reply
      Donna Janke
      August 9, 2015 at 7:46 am

      Anita, I like the comment “nourishment for both body and soul”. So true!

  • Reply
    William Rusho
    August 8, 2015 at 11:47 pm

    I never thought about taking a garden tour. I do miss having my garden, I have been unable to keep one in the last couple years. If I start up one soon, taking a tour is a wonderful way to get ideas. Thanks for sharing.

    • Reply
      Donna Janke
      August 9, 2015 at 7:48 am

      William, during the tour I felt a few pangs of missing my larger garden, but I don’t miss the work and the mess it could become if I was unable to keep up with it. I got a number of ideas on the tour for my current smaller space.

  • Reply
    Home Jobs by MOM (@HomeJobsbyMOM)
    August 25, 2015 at 9:22 am

    Lovely pictures! I even think my kids might enjoy a garden tour – at least one like that!

    • Reply
      Donna Janke
      August 26, 2015 at 12:40 am

      Thanks. I’m not sure how many children would enjoy a garden tour, but this tour was pretty cool for the adults.

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