Earth friendly gardening in the Kootenays region of British Columbia, Canada

Kootenay Gardening

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Kootenays  Garden Festivals and Tours
To see  the schedule of this year's festivals and tours click  Gardening Events - Schedule
Trail Garden Tour
Beaver Valley Garden Tour
Slocan Valley Garden Tour
Castlegar Garden Tour
Nelson Garden Festival
    For those of us who live in the country gardening is a natural thing to do. When the sun eventually melts down the snow and warms up the soil we feel irresistible urge to participate in the nature's scheme of renewal and we rush outside to dig the soil and plant our gardens. The longer the winter lasts the stronger the urge becomes. No wonder we have so many avid gardeners and beautiful gardens here in the Kootenays. We love our gardens and, as all proud parents, we like to show our babies to others and hear their prizes. From this need arose the idea of Open Garden Days and Garden Tours.

    It all started in Cranbrook when members of the Cranbrook Garden Club first decided to open their gardens to the broader public. The first annual Cranbrook Open Garden Day in 1997 was a great success and has become a much anticipated annual event since. The organization of the tour is perfect. It is only in Cranbrook that there are two or three garden club members in every garden on the show, dressed in green aprons to distinguish themselves from the visitors, ready to answer all questions you may have. With hundreds of visitors it would be too difficult to do that for the host alone. The Cranbrook Garden Club will celebrate its twentieth anniversary later this year, 2011.

    Grand Forks and the Slocan Valley were first to follow. In 1998 there were two Garden Tours in the Slocan Valley. One in the Lower Valley, from the Crescent Valley to Slocan City, organized by the Slocan Valley Community Arts Council. The second in the Slocan Lake area, with gardens scattered through Silverton, New Denver and Hills, organized by the Slocan Lake Gallery Society.

    Other cities and towns in the Kootenays picked up the idea and started organizing open garden shows and tours in their areas. Now we have garden tours in the Beaver Valley, Castlegar, Cranbrook, Creston, Grand Forks, Kimberley, Harrop-Procter, Rossland, the Slocan Valley, the Slocan Lake area, Trail and Warfield.

    There is a lot of work involved in preparation for a garden tour. The gardens have to be chosen. Tickets, maps and posters have to be designed and printed. Advertisements prepared and sent to the advertisers. Garden hosts supplied with signs helping visitors find the gardens. Guest books made ready for the visitors to write their prizes for the gardens and for the gardeners. On the day of the tour directional signs have to be placed to make easier locating the gardens. These are some of the activities that make the show possible. Often other events are organized together with the garden show, like arts and crafts shows and sales or performances of local musicians. Often money is being collected either from the sale of tickets or from donations from the visitors and put to a worthy cause. Usually the work begins in January and ends only after the show is over.

    In areas where there are strong gardening clubs, like Cranbrook and Castlegar, the tours are held each year, in other areas they may happen only occasionally or once in two years or so. Over the years both towns perfected the organization of the show that can now serve as an example to the organizers in the other areas.

    Our garden tours are a great opportunity not only to see the beauty of nature and human creations, but also to learn first-hand how to garden.

    Nelson took different approach. Instead of a garden tour, each year, since 2002, they

have a Garden Festival. It always takes place on Saturday, Mother's Day weekend.  Gardeners can buy there everything what they need to make their gardens beautiful and enjoyable, from plants to garden furniture, all made in the Kootenays.  Creston has also held Garden Festivals for several years.  Kaslo joined in 2008 with their own Garden Festival which is now part of the traditional annual celebration of Queen Victoria’s birthday, the Kaslo May Days. Last year, 2010, Castlegar joined the pack with the first Annual Castlegar Garden & Nature Fest.

   The amount of work in preparation for the festival is no less than amount of work in preparation for the garden tour. All this is done by volunteers.

    Both, garden tours and festivals, became much awaited and anticipated events here in the Kootenays. When visiting our beautiful gardens or enjoying our festivals don't forget to appreciate and give credit not only to the gardeners but also to the enthusiasm and work of all the volunteers who make all this possible.

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