How our Garden Tour Went Virtual

How our Garden Tour Went Virtual

The informal Gardening Boosters group that I helped launch in January planned to have all sorts of in -person gardening events here in Old Greenbelt, Maryland. When those ideas became impossible this year, we turned to the trusty old Internet to create a reasonable alternative, hoping it could serve the same purposes as a normal tour. But it’s proving to be different in more ways than just the virtual bit.

More Tours
Instead of just one tour, we’re having a Spring, a Summer and a Fall Tour.  The Spring Tour is now online!

More Gardens
18 gardeners submitted photos or videos for the “tour,” which includes another 5 gardens I snapped photos of from the street on my walks and rides around town (my gym’s closed, of course). In-person tours would include no more than 12.

More Diversity

Our gardens didn’t have to be traditionally tour-worthy, since no one’s being asked to travel to see them, so it’s less intimidating. It became a garden and plant tour, with shots of favorite plants in their spring garden. We used photos taken March through May.

Rashi’s front-yard garden
More Gardening Friends
Best of all for me as the organizer has been getting to meet more avid gardeners who live near me. For example, I’m getting to know Rashi Jain, whose front-yard organic veg garden is amazing. And she makes videos about it  Here’s the first of her two spring videos.
Many In-Person
Many of the gardens are identified by address and visitors are encouraged to see it from public space. (Like my own garden and Rashi’s, most or all of these gardens can be seen from sidewalks along the front and back). So some in-person visits are possible. A few of us even invite visitors inside the garden and make ourselves available to answer questions, if arranged by email first.
My friend Amethyst Dwyer’s front garden.

For example, visitors can see this charming container-veg garden from the sidewalk.

Same Income
Since our tours are always free, we’re not losing any income by going online. I know that’s probably not the case for most tours.
Less Work

Collecting photos and descriptions is a normal part of garden-tour planning, followed by the printing of brochures, organizing volunteer docents, et cetera. Virtual means avoiding most of the actual event planning and ALL the worry over weather!

More Tour-Goers?
We don’t know yet how many “visitors” we’ll eventually have to the tour page, but I’m guessing it’ll be more than the number of attendees for our in-person tours, on nice weekend days when they have so many other choices.

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Susan Harris

Susan’s a garden writer, teacher and activist in the Washington, D.C. area. Co-founder of GardenRant, she also wrote for national gardening magazines and independent garden centers before retiring in 2014. Now she has time for these projects:

  • Founding and now managing the pro-science educational nonprofit GOOD GARDENING VIDEOS that finds and promotes the best videos on YouTube for teaching people to garden.
  • Creating and managing DC GARDENS, the nonprofit campaign to promote the public gardens of the Washington, D.C. area, and gardening by locals.
  • Creating and editing the community website GREENBELT ONLINE to serve her adopted hometown of Greenbelt, Maryland (a “New Deal Utopia” founded in 1937).

Contact Susan via email or by leaving a comment here.

Photo by Stephen Brown.

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