Opening Your Garden

Opening Your Garden

Opening Your Garden
by Barbara Blossom Ashmun

Opening your garden to strangers is the fastest way to make new friends. What could be more fun than standing around the garden you have labored to make beautiful,and greeting visitors who are interested in the plants and how you have arranged them? The highlight of my open gardens over the years was the day a visitor came towards me on the path, enveloped me in a big hug, and exclaimed, "This is so wonderful!"

Like a lot of new ventures, opening your garden for the first time will both thrill and terrify you. But I promise that once you get over any fears, you’ll want to do it again and again. Besides making new friends who love what you enjoy, you will teach and learn, give and receive in endless ways.

Forget about waiting until you garden is perfect—that day will never arrive. Besides, it will just make everyone else feel inadequate: they will tour your perfect garden and feel sick at heart with envy. Instead, leave a few weeds and visitors will sigh with relief. "It’s great to see some dandelions, and unfinished beds," said a recent visitor. "I feel so much better about my own hodgepodge."

Of course you will want to make it as wonderful as you can, for after all, opening your garden is an opportunity to finish up those projects that have been lingering on the shelves of your imagination. Time to paint the garden bench, fill the feeders and scrub out the grungy birdbaths. Dig out that hybrid tea rose that suffers from black spot and replace it with an easy-going butterfly bush.

The week before your open garden invite all your gardening friends over for a cleanup party. As you deadhead and weed talk about plants and nurseries and gardens to visit; the time will fly and the garden will shine. Remember to send everyone home with starts of all your favorite perennials and promise to divide or propagate anything they covet.

While you’re weeding, take along a shallow basin billed with soil to heel in all those excess seedling lady’s mantles and cranebills that your yanking out but hate to throw away. Pot them up and save them for guests at your open garden—visitors love to go home with a little piece of your garden that will remind them of their outing. Pass-along plants are a sure way to start a new friendship. When you send out invitations, ask your friends to wear their garden hats. This will make the day more festive and turn the open garden into a party. Have a few extra bonnets on hand for those who forgot to wear one so everyone can get into the spirit. Fill a big cooler with mint iced tea and a wicker basket with crisp cookies. Put your tools away, throw your jeans in the hamper, and slip on your favorite long flowing dress. Add a big straw hat with flowers on the band and prepare to have yourself a fantastic day!


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