To really understand how a garden works, you need to travel through it to experience all its dimensions. Walking down a path, rounding a corner and ducking under an arbor lets you feel a designed space, as opposed to simply seeing how it looks. You can smell the jasmine overhead and the sage at your feet, or hear the rustle of bamboo leaves. These sensations cannot be gleaned from gardens seen on a glossy page.
Garden tours — where owners bravely open their gardens for a day or two to benefit a good cause — let you experience landscapes firsthand.
Over the next three weekends, a baker’s dozen of tours are scheduled in the Southern California area, from Redlands to Pacific Palisades, from Thousand Oaks to Corona del Mar. The tours “are a lovely peek at other people’s gardens,” said Judy Horton, who organized the garden tours that benefit the Garden Conservancy, a national organization dedicated to preserving historic and unique gardens.
“People travel to other states and other countries to look at gardens, but often the gardens don’t translate well. What you see probably won’t work here,” said Horton. On a local tour, you know that what you see, you can indeed grow and probably get at the local nursery.
All garden tours are self-guided — you follow maps that come with the tickets. It’s a good idea to carpool, since parking can be a problem in some neighborhoods.