Happy 25th an­niver­sary Open Gar­den Week

The Hamilton Spectator - - A & E - ROB HOWARD

This 25th an­niver­sary is not sil­ver. It’s green.

Green like the trees now com­ing into full leaf. Green like spring’s emer­ald lawns. Green like the shoots push­ing up through our flower beds. Green like the haze hov­er­ing over the land­scape where, just weeks ago, it was all browns and greys.

This green an­niver­sary is the 25th edi­tion of Hamil­ton Spec­ta­tor Open Gar­den Week, and this year it runs from Friday, June 30 to Mon­day, June 10 — a day longer than usual, which gives us all a chance to see even more of this area’s loveli­est pri­vate gar­dens.

This mile­stone year, I’d re­ally like to make a splash. Two lo­cal hor­ti­cul­tural so­ci­eties are get­ting their mem­bers in­volved, which is won­der­ful. And I’m ask­ing ev­ery­one who has ever opened the gar­den for Open Gar­den Week, and ev­ery­one who has ever thought about open­ing their gar­den, to hop on board. It’s go­ing to be a lot of fun — and you get a handy lawn sign that dou­bles as a great sou­venir.

This spring has been wet, yes, but also rel­a­tively mild. Gar­dens are com­ing up at a rapid pace, fruit trees are in won­der­ful blos­som and even marginally hardy peren­ni­als seem to have come through the win­ter with vigour to spare.

We are on track for a great gar­den­ing sea­son and I hon­estly don’t know of a bet­ter way to cel­e­brate it (and this 25th year) than by shar­ing our gar­dens with vis­i­tors.

I’m thrilled but not re­ally sur­prised that Open Gar­den Week has lasted — has ac­tu­ally thrived — through a quar­ter-cen­tury.

Hamil­ton, Burling­ton and sur-

round­ing ar­eas are not only rich in gar­den­ing his­tory and tra­di­tion, but also in the un­qual­i­fied gen­eros­ity and hos­pi­tal­ity of their gar­den­ers.

With Open Gar­den Week, you’ll get to meet the gar­den­ers, chat with other vis­i­tors and get ideas and in­spi­ra­tion. Quick his­tory: Open Gar­den Week be­gan in 1993 with six gar­dens open to vis­i­tors. It dou­bled each year for the next sev­eral years, peak­ing five years ago with more than 100 gar­dens open from Ni­a­gara Falls to Oakville, from the shores of Lake Erie to the wa­ter­front of Hamil­ton. It’s be­come a big deal to the many peo­ple who open their gar­dens (we call them hosts) and to the vis­i­tors who come to see them.

Here’s how Open Gar­den Week works:

We pick a pe­riod for it. You pick the days and hours you are will­ing to open your gar­den to any and all vis­i­tors. You send the in­for­ma­tion to me, I com­pile it into easy-to-fol­low list­ings. The Spec­ta­tor pub­lishes those list­ings, in the pa­per and on­line, in the days shortly be­fore Open Gar­den Week be­gins. Vis­i­tors show up at the posted times, ad­mire the gar­den, say nice things to the owner(s), and ev­ery­one is happy.

It’s that sim­ple. No charge, no tick­ets, no tour sched­ule to stick to.

Ev­ery gar­den is a work in progress, ev­ery gar­dener thinks their gar­den looked bet­ter three days be­fore or will do a week later. But vis­i­tors are in­vari­ably grate­ful.

This is a com­pletely free event, so there are no ex­pec­ta­tions. If a vis­i­tor isn’t crazy about a par­tic­u­lar gar­den, so what? It didn’t cost them any­thing.

Rus­tic coun­try gar­den dur­ing a pre­vi­ous Open Gar­den Week event.

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