Garden Walk Organizing

Garden Walks That Is….

Garden walks give the visitor an opportunity to find inspiration, gardener or not. Homeowners open their gardens to strangers that can quickly become friends. It is funny how many communities have jumped on the bandwagon and decided to open the gates of cities and towns by sponsoring a garden walk. And now is the time to start the planning.

I think this is quite wonderful if your town or community can come together and make this a pleasant experience for those taking the time to visit. By making it pleasant, the visitor should feel safe and be greeted by a clean and well cared for community. Urban blight is not going to be blanketed by flowers and expect not to be noticed. It is important to have a community that people want to visit and feel safe in doing so.

I have been invited to work on the second largest garden walk in our area. I am very honored to assist a local garden club in preparing and presenting their summer GardenFest. This town has charm and pride in community and is always well-kept. It is a place people come by the thousands and is just as gorgeous a place to visit any time of the year. And no, it is not the community in which I live, but one where I do much of my design work. One property of which I showed recently can be found on this post.

The group running and sponsoring this walk are the nicest people to work with and are all hard-working and very knowledgeable, people I greatly admire and respect. I am part of this wonderful team of individuals all having one objective which is to have a beautiful and fun experience for the garden visitor. They roll out the red carpet and greet the visitor with class.

My responsibilities will be much of the graphics and advertising, such as creating a poster for the event, designing print ads and designing a website. I will look to see if some of my clients will wish to show their gardens for the event and will talk to some of the nurseries with whom I deal.

Last year, I was one of the Master Gardeners answering questions for gardeners. This is where I met some of the organizers of this event.

This year I will be helping to work the event wherever they decide I am needed. Many more responsibilities will develop over the next few months and I am up for the challenge.

I am very eager to do what I can and share my abilities and talents. I am so excited to be a valuable team member. They have booths featuring nurseries, landscapers, garden artists and yard and garden supply vendors to delight the visitor.

Master Gardeners will be on hand like I was last year, along with various floral societies offering advice of the highest caliper.  And of course, beautiful gardens will be so graciously open.

These images are all from Garden Walk Buffalo, the largest Garden Walk in our area and most likely the country.  I will get images from the walk where I am helping when the time grows near. You will see a great community rich in history and charm. In fact, I may give you a peek as the weather warms. And once I get the website up and running, I will be adding all the information and images. So stay tuned. I am going to busy.

This walk is held weeks before the Seattle Fling, so I am planning to join the fun. I would love to know if you are planning on going!


About Garden Walk Garden Talk

I love to photograph, paint, draw, design, garden, travel the world, and pass on a few tips and ideas that I learned through experience as a Master Gardener and architect. I am highly trained in my field and enjoy my work each and every day. I garden in Niagara Falls, NY in zone 6-B. Find me at:
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57 Responses to Garden Walk Organizing

  1. lifeshighway says:

    Donna, I wish I lived up there for your area’s garden walk. Last year’s gardens are outstanding and then with you assisting and doing the artwork and graphics!! Epic. Will there be a poster for his event?

    • Hi Cheri. I am working with a neighboring town, Lewiston, New York. The Garden Club is sponsoring the event like they have done for the last five years. It really is a festival atmosphere and I am so looking forward to it. They asked me to do a poster and I am hoping to come up with something that they are going to really like. Our next meeting will give me a direction.

  2. Missy says:

    I’m looking forward to seeing the website when it’s up and running. Having seen some of your talent through the blog I know you will do a great job. In Australia we have an open garden scheme where private gardens open and some regions have gardens that join together as a group (something that sounds similar to your event although nowhere near as large), but nothing around our district. Will the garden walks be all on one day or spread over some time?

    • This event is a two day affair. I do like that because it give the vendors some time to make some money and I heard last year was a banner year for them. I have gone to the GardenFest each year, and last year was a Master Gardener for the event and had a wonderful time.

  3. One says:

    I wish I could walk with you too. Since I cannot do that physically, I am glad I get to enjoy some of the best landscape photos in GWGT. Looking forward to more of such terrific views after your next walk.

    • Thanks One. These images are from last year and I will be attending as many of the walks in our area as I can. I enjoy getting inspiration and new ideas. Since we still have snow, I am going to post images from the walks I took last year. It will get me in the mood for Spring.

  4. Artie says:

    Hey Donna,
    I’m so happy that you’re going to be a part of the Lewiston Garden Fest. I’ll be there with bells on. It’s really a great festival, and I hope that you’ll urge them to have more gardens involved than they have in the past.
    Additionally, in reference to your comment on flowers covering urban blight: I agree that flowers can not possibly mask the difficult and often struggling areas surrounding our particular community, however, we have to gather and start somewhere. One planter, one basket, one tree, one box at a time. People will see how beautiful an area can be, and it will give them the incentive, the iniative, and the pride of creating a beautiful home, business, and overall – community.
    Rarely to people have the opportunity to start at the top, and building something from the ground up is a fulfilling experience that once you’ve had the opportunity to gain, is something you can carry with pride for a lifetime.
    I wish you the absolute best in the Lewiston adventure, and I’ll see you there!

    • I agree Artie. It is important to start somewhere to start something good. I too wish you the best on your upcoming garden walk. The challenge is getting residents and businesses alike to cooperate in the efforts. I worked on a art/garden, show/walk many years ago with a business association in Pennsylvania. A three day event was developed and became a very successful one time event, but it took tremendous community involvement and town hall meetings for it to come to fruition. Again, good luck with your event.

  5. LYNN ROGERS says:

    Loved the photos of your garden walk. In our small town, Fayettevile, Arkansas, pop.50,000, we have a Through the Garden Gate tour, which covers several other towns in our area. It is well attended every year. I was fortunate to be on it last year. We hosted 320 people at our garden in one day!

    • That is a great showing and I am impressed that it included several towns. It is wonderful when these walks spread and grow. Garden Walk Buffalo is a great example of success and growth. They set the high mark for all others to meet. Gardeners in Buffalo have set the bar high for gardeners everywhere. I love visiting their walk each year and always see something new and fun.

  6. Andrea says:

    Wow Donna, that’s another big event, looks like your hands will be full for the next few weeks. How i wish i am nearer to join everybody and to take photos too. I am excited to wait here again for your posts. I’ve already replied to your comment in my post with a post-like comment, LOL. Now, i hope this is still uncommon for you, why do Hydrangea flowers in two pots have different colors, even if they came from same mother plant?

  7. I’m green with envy at all those beautiful flower filled gardens…….sigh…….will I ever have a garden with just half as many flowers……sigh,

    great work Donna, Frances

  8. Hi Donna – what an amazing event to be a part of! We have these “Open Gardens” event here in South Africa too. For any gardener its an amazing privilege to be able to walk through and appreciate these awe-inspiring gardens. Oh if I lived closer I would come and admire these gardens you are going to be show-casing. I hope there will be something to see in December when I am in New York 🙂

  9. Donna, do you ever sleep? You are a busy woman! I think this is wonderful that you are helping out. My MG group holds a Garden Walk every other year and this year is it. I will be one of the MG on hand to answer questions. I love garden walks because like you say, they are a great place to get ideas and I just love seeing other people’s gardens.

    • Master Gardeners do so much for their communities and it is all volunteer. From city planting to helping and teaching children, to organizing gardening events, they are a great group of knowledgeable and helpful individuals.

  10. Such events are great and the gardens you use to illustrate this post are beautiful and alluring.

    However, although I would not think people should be made unsafe by being guided into dangerous areas, I imagine people who are gardening amidst urban blight might be hugely encouraged by people coming along to see what they are doing. It shouldn’t only be the wealthy who are congratulated.


    • I agree Esther. I live in a city and so do all the gardens I showed above. And there are areas that surround me that are less than ideal for visitors, but like Artie above mentioned, you have to start somewhere and it does become infectious like what happened in Buffalo. Beauty breeds beauty. But my training in architecture school for urban planning taught me that blight and crime are the first to be addressed because when people feel safe and have a caring environment the rest will follow naturally. Slowly, but eventually a turn around will occur. It takes a concerned community and some brave residents to start the process.

      In Buffalo last year, an older neighborhood got some help at making their street more beautiful by group of concerned citizens and generous landscapers. It was a media event too, so a lot of pride was generated and I believe pride is the key to it all.

  11. Lovely gardens and just thinking of seeing unfurling green again . . . though it is so far off for New England. Our library has a fundraiser garden tour some years. It is fun to see neighbors walking around in the gardens and to have had an early walk with all the gardeners who open their gardens. Alas, I must work in July. If only there could be a fling in winter! Ha! Who would want to visit winter gardens! I think I will try to organize a more regional alternative to the Seattle fling for those that cannot get away for so long. I am green with envy!

    • A regional meet would be great. I am still not sure I can attend in Seattle because of work also, but am really hoping to get away. I would love to meet everyone. And the winter walk would be great. Maybe horse drawn carriage rides on snow covered streets too.

    • I would be so excited about a regional get together, especially if it was at Flower Hill Farm. Meanwhile I am organizing a very impromptu blogger get together at my nursery in Bryn Mawr, PA, this spring. No date yet, anyone is welcome. So far: Jean’s Garden, Pam’s English Garden, skchris at Garden Sense, Donna at GWGT, and donadonnabella (spelling?) have expressed an interest. Anyone else?

      • Carolyn, A fine idea getting the ‘locals’ together. It will be fun. I hope it can be right after tax time in April. My involvement with this garden fest I wrote about is fairly recent and I want to get a time secured ASAP so I can let them know too. I am hoping that work can be flexible. Often I can do this if there are no commercial projects at that time.

  12. Marguerite says:

    Donna, I’ve never heard of a garden walk. I was thinking a garden tour at first but it sounds like this is something the whole community is involved in? I’ll have to visit your new website to see all the action as it sounds quite interesting.

    • Marguerite, most walks do not involve a community, but the one I worked on in PA did. A wonderful affair bringing together businesses, local government and residents. A series of town hall meetings helped to galvanize an ideas. The one I am working on is sponsored by the garden club, but the businesses benefit and some participate with deals and sales.

  13. Alistair says:

    Donna, great gardens you have shown us today. I was considering opening my own garden if it were to be accepted, I will make more enquiries. I will look forward to seeing how everything goes with this years garden fest
    and your new website.

  14. Donna, I agree with whoever asked if you ever sleep. This sounds great. It is wonderful that you live in a community where you can walk from garden to garden safely without fear of getting run over. We have garden tours where you drive between the gardens because the streets aren’t made for walking and the gardens are too far apart. Carolyn

    • Each garden walk with which I worked (3) has been a walkable tour and was designed that way, but if some just outside the area wish to participate they are welcome too and will be included on the map with a note on driving. My garden was only on one tour that was walkable (the one last year that I was on the committee), I am out of the town in which they were held on the other two.

  15. makarimi says:

    Wow…so interesting. Too far to join the fest…but I love to see what you are doing. You show us the great garden. Thanks for sharing.

  16. Karen says:

    Wonderful photos of lovely gardens. We usually attend two major garden walks every year and I know how much work goes into planning them. You are so busy, Donna, I don’t know where you find all the time and energy. (I could really use your assistance here at my garden too, my first tour group arrives the first week in June…I wonder if the snow will be gone by then?)

  17. b-a-g says:

    Donna, After reading your post, I feel a bit guilty about wanting to keep my garden private – but then let’s say it isn’t quite ready for public display yet. Anyway, I can’t even imagine such an event happening in my neighbourhood, because we don’t have a sense of community. I wonder if it’s possible for just one person to change this ….

  18. Bom says:

    How lucky for the group to have you and for the community to have such a group. We don’t have a garden walk here, I think. Perhaps Andrea can correct me on this. I would love to see other people’s gardens. There is one residential garden that I am dreaming to see here but there are security issues about its flora and fauna so I doubt it will ever be open to the public even if we have garden walks. Do keep us posted. We will walk along vicariously.

    • It takes hard work to get a community involved. I did it once in Pennsylvania, and learned quite a lot doing it. I also worked on Community Town Hall meetings in Buffalo., where hundreds of residents and business owners got together for round-table discussions. This was organized by the Mayor’s office and the University School of Architecture. I was the assistant to the the professor working as the mayor’s right hand in this process. So locally, I am one with a lot of knowledge and experience how to get this kind of meeting formed and working. This event was televised on Public TV and was a really big deal. It was not about gardens, but what we needed to turn the city around and grow. And that included ideas like the garden walks around the city.

      So when I mentioned that I know what should come first when starting a garden walk in a city, I am not just saying it without tons of experience and knowledge. MAKE people feel safe and clean up first. Then start your planning for a walk. Cleaning up a local neighborhood will make people feel safer and being safer means they will start cleaning up. Residents need to take action and get rid of the drug dealers and bad influences in the neighborhood first. Who wants to walk down a street like that. By caring for a neighborhood and having police presence, the riffraff leaves on their own.

      • Bom says:

        Oh, our neighborhoods are very clean already. Our neighborhood is composed of gated, guarded subdivisions. Each subdivision has a homeowner’s association and we pay dues for the association to hire people (e.g. cut grass in empty lots, tend to common gardens, security guards, community plumber, etc.)

        You can’t even just drive into any specific residential area, much less walk through one. Most require a numbered car sticker (changed annually) which marks you as a homeowner. Otherwise, the security guard has to call the homeowner you are visiting to verify if you are expected or you leave your driver’s license with the guard and pick it up on your way out.

        We do have “walks” around the city. Philatelic walks. Food walks. History walks. Private gardens, unfortunately, none.

        • That is so cool you have a safe and clean neighborhood. Too bad it is restricted and you can’t have garden walks. I have a client in one such neighborhood, with an association and guards. I have to be ‘approved’ before I am granted access. But once in, it is like entering a garden of Eden. They are nowhere near where I live though. It is funny, because a couple of residents have brought up gating our block. Impossible but a worthy thought.

  19. Mac_fromAustralia says:

    So the gardens on these walks are actually all within walking distance of each other? I am surprised that it’s possible to get sufficient people interested. Well done to everyone who participates! Sounds like a wonderful event. Like b-a-g I sometimes wonder if it’s possible for one person to start changing a neighbourhood? Missy mentioned the Open Garden scheme here in Australia. We’re lucky if we get more than a couple of gardens open on the same weekend, and they are very rarely in the same area, though there were two in neighbouring streets once last year.

    • Mac, a garden walk that is designed and marketed that way has a great chance of becoming walkable. Neighbors encourage neighbors, and who wants to be the ‘messy’ yard in the neighborhood filled with pretty front yards? They can grow on their own, which is what happened in Buffalo I believe. It became a phenomena of great proportion.

      And there is no problem with starting as one person. My project in Pennsylvania started with one business owner tired of the blight around him. He contacted the big department store I had previously worked for as a fashion illustrator. Owning a business in the city now, the department store contacted me. Together we formed a small group of business owners who decided we could make a difference. So my campaign was borne, Making a Difference.

      From there we got the artistic community involved, myself being one of them. I got the two galleries where my work was sold to sponsor the event. It became a large art show.

      Then we went back to the original premise of making the city prettier and clean. After all that work was done, we contacted the landscape industry and the the town was adorned.

      Then the town Hall meetings started and residents became involved. The residents said if the city is getting spruced up, can their front yards participate. Well anyway…. this just grew and grew. So yes to you and b_a_g, this started with one fed up business owner who brought it eventually to our business association.

  20. dona says:

    I really loved the pictures and these so natural gardens! Congratulations and good job!

    • Thanks Donna. No congrats yet. I am new to this committee. so I have a lot to do and prove. I just did the poster yesterday with my painted art and sent it to the Chairwoman this morning. I am hoping they like my work. Once we have them eventually printed, I will post what I did.

  21. fer says:

    I wish I was able to go to one of those garden walks. It would be an amazing experience. Maybe I can find something similar here, tho they don’t have many big gardens.

    • You could have balcony shows. I can visualize that. A town or city with balconies draped in beauty lining streets. But it would have to be a place with balconies. Well anyway, small gardens are perfect. Mine is really tiny and they are the best for walkable tours, because the homes are in close proximity to each other.

  22. Jennifer says:

    The gardens you show in the post are fantastic. Our community is too widespread for a garden “walk”, but we do have garden tours (same idea really, but you drive the car from garden to garden).

    • Driving tours are popular too. If I am not mistaken Philadelphia does that and so does Buffalo. You can find maybe 30 or more gardens on a street in Buffalo all within walking distance, but so many neighborhoods participate, you must drive between them to visit them all. I love doing this. I always map out my route and make a day of it.

  23. p3chandan says:

    A very unique idea of opening your garden for strangers to walk in and enjoy the beauty and your plants! Never heard of the Garden Walk here though. Are they charged entrance fees to walk in your garden? Looking forward to this project and see your great photos Donna!

    • Some walks do charge a fee. But none I have worked with have done that. The walk on my street took donations, which they donated to a food bank last year.

      I am not working with the walk on my street this year. I did work with a committee last year, but now the business association is taking over from our Block Club. The Block Club sponsored it for the last three years, and now it is in the hands of the business association, of which I am not a member.

      You can be assured I will have photos posted of whatever they do. Then you will see what the city I live in really looks like. In fact, since the weather is nice this week, I may get out and take some photos. I will show you Main Street, Niagara Falls. I will try to show the good points, after all, I do want people visiting.

  24. patty says:

    That neighborhood is a beauty. My kind of place. They obviously take a lot of pride in their gardens – and probably do the work themselves. I look forward to the walk (by photos).

    • Patty, all the gardens in Garden Walk Buffalo have not had professional design that I am aware, or so says the advertising. I know I have designed two on a street in the walk, but I am not sure if they have opened their gardens. This year I will check it out.

  25. lula says:

    Donna, the pictures in your post are a feast for the eyes in February! but most important is all the encouragment you bring to stand up and get moving for projects that make a difference. I wish I could be part of your walk! I was planning to work on something where I live, not easy for many reasons, but let’s see how it turns out.

  26. lula says:

    Donna, I am looking forward to readng your post on the walks and visits, this a marvelous way to enjoy your work. Thanks, Lula

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