One of my most memorable overseas experiences was on a trip to England with my good friend, Mrs. Grindrod. Mr. Ross had given me two round trip tickets to England for Christmas and said I could take anyone I wanted as long as it wasn’t him. We planned our trip around the locales of two series of books we were reading at the time written by Miss Read, otherwise known as Dora Saint. We even got to go to lunch with her one day. Afterward, Debbie and I toured several private gardens that were open to the public in aid of a local charity. We ended the tour at the rectory garden where the ladies were serving a cream tea. It was absolutely delightful. If you are interested in touring private gardens in England you can plan your trip using the National Garden Scheme’s Yellow Book, where you can search to find gardens open in the area. Here in the states, The Garden Conservancy has a similar program. The gardens listed by this organization tend to be large, private gardens. The schedule lists open garden days in many states and we are fortunate to have a few here in Illinois. The nearest open garden for us in Crystal Lake will be June 28 in North Barrington. This garden features a unique garden railway. On July 27, four gardens will be open in Glencoe, Lake Forest and Mettawa and on August 3, the Gardens at Ball, in West Chicago will be open to the public. The greenhouse department at Countryside usually goes to see the gardens during their "trade only" field day, so this is a great opportunity for the general public to see new varieties of perennials and annuals being trialed as well as great container designs, and woodland and wetland restoration projects. There will be guides available to answer questions. You can check out the details and get directions by going to the The Garden Conservancy website.
Closer to home is the upcoming McHenry County Garden Walk sponsored by the McHenry County Master Gardeners. This walk takes place on July 12 and features five local gardens, including that of my neighbor and another of a woman from my garden club. These are both great gardens, cared for by two people who truly love gardening and plants. I am sure the others are fabulous as well. These are great places to get new ideas and also to reassure yourself that your own garden looks pretty darn good.