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Janice Peterson: Why you should attend the Rotary Botanical Gardens Home Garden Tour

By Janice Peterson
June 25, 2015

Last summer I was asked to be on the 2015 Rotary Botanical Gardens Home Garden Tour (held this July 11 from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m.). I gladly agreed and was rather pleased that my garden was considered “garden tour–worthy”. There's a certain amount of trepidation thinking about hundreds of people viewing (and judging!) my garden, but it's also exciting to have a chance to share my love of gardening with others.

Many communities throughout the country hold annual garden tours and we are incredibly fortunate to have one right here in Janesville. It's amazing how many different gardening styles there are! Garden tours are a great way to get ideas for your own backyard. I know I've stolen, er, “borrowed” many ideas over the years that I first saw on a garden tour. I recall a stone-lined berm we built soon after attending the Home Garden Tour several years ago. Each of the eight homes on the Home Garden Tour will have knowledgeable docents (most are Master Gardener Volunteers) and often the homeowners themselves –great resources for answering all kinds of gardening questions.

What's it like to be on a garden walk? The RBG Home Garden Tour Committee views potential gardens a year in advance to see if they are a good fit for the next year's tour (they try to group homes near each other so sometimes it's a matter of location). They visit the homes again in early spring and decide where musicians can set up. A few weeks before the big day the homeowners meet with the committee and the docents to learn all the final details. The docents usually visit the homeowner's garden ahead of the tour to learn about the plants and the history of the garden. The homeowner can be in their garden the day of the tour or can choose not to. You bet I will be in my garden that day! There is an after-tour party, and often the homeowners take a quick tour to view each other's gardens the following day.

It's been a great experience getting ready for the garden tour. I'm putting that last extra layer of “finish” on my garden and sprucing up some areas that I've been putting off for years. My husband and I have put in extra work in our garden this year to be sure, but we also have maintained our gardening mantra: If we're not having fun then we're not doing it right. And the reward after the tour is over is that our garden will look the best it has in years!

So don't miss the RBG Home Garden Tour! You may find a solution to a problem area in your yard, or you may discover a new plant to love. Ask lots of questions and take photos! Here's your chance to see my garden which I've often mention in this blog. And if you have a garden that you are proud of, consider being on a garden walk. Contact Rotary Botanical Gardens and let them know you are interested in being a future Home Garden Tour garden. I assure you, if you do it right, it will be fun!