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