Calling all gar­den­ers

The Hamilton Spectator - - Style - ROB HOWARD Rob Howard lives and gar­dens in Hamil­ton. He has been co-or­di­na­tor of Hamil­ton Spec­ta­tor Open Gar­den Week since 1992. Spe­cial to The Hamil­ton Spec­ta­tor

It’s like all of spring was poised un­der­ground, strain­ing to break free of win­ter’s grip. Sud­denly, we went from cold and wet and bar­ren gar­dens to warm and sunny and gar­dens over­flow­ing with flow­ers and that gor­geous green of new fo­liage and flow­er­ing trees just blan­keted with ev­ery colour in the artist’s paint­box.

And so all the more rea­son for you to de­cide — now — to open your gar­den for Hamil­ton Spec­ta­tor Open Gar­den Week 2018. It runs from Sun­day, June 24 to Sun­day, July 1. And for it to be a suc­cess, it needs you.

The idea is sim­ple: we pick a pe­riod for Open Gar­den Week. 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.

Per­haps you’ve never opened your gar­dens to strangers. Per­haps you have opened your gar­den in past in­car­na­tions of Open Gar­den Week but haven’t done so

in a few years.

This is the year. This is the sum­mer in which to par­tic­i­pate in one of Hamil­ton’s great gar­den­ing tra­di­tions and throw open, or re­open, your gar­den gate.

Why? Well, here’s a handy six-pack of rea­sons for you to be part of Open Gar­den Week this year. 1. Your gar­den will never

look bet­ter — all sum­mer. The great thing about open­ing your gar­den to visi­tors is that it makes you want to implement all those gar­den­ing ideas that have been rat­tling around on to-do lists for years. You’ll get your gar­den in lovely shape for your day(s) on Open Gar­den Week and then reap the re­sults all through the rest of the sum­mer. Knowing visi­tors are com­ing will make you fo­cus on your gar­den. Trust me, I know this.

2. You will meet the nicest

peo­ple. You will find visi­tors are kind, ap­pre­cia­tive and grate­ful to you for open­ing your gar­den. I’ve opened my gar­den a half-dozen times now for sev­eral hun­dred visi­tors (over the years), and I’ve yet to have a bad en­counter. It’s a lovely way to meet neigh­bours and dis­cover strangers re­ally are “the friends you haven’t met yet.” There have been many friend­ships formed in open gar­dens and, re­port­edly, a cou­ple of ro­mances. 3. Your gar­den is much bet­ter than you think it is. Do not be afraid your gar­den will not mea­sure up. One of the beau­ties of Open Gar­den Week is that it is about “real” gar­dens made by “reg­u­lar” peo­ple. If you find any joy in your gar­den, so will oth­ers. Open Gar­den Week is made up of great gar­dens, and gar­dens on their way to great­ness. Wher­ever yours is on that jour­ney, please share it. 4. You will get some great tips and ideas for your gar­den. I’ve heard re­peat­edly from gar­den “hosts” — peo­ple who opened their gar­dens — that they get great in­spi­ra­tion from their visi­tors. I get great ideas from visi­tors. If you have a gar­den is­sue or prob­lem, chances are good that one of your visi­tors has dealt with it in the past. 5. You get to cel­e­brate your achieve­ments with peo­ple who know how much work you did. Gar­den­ing is very sat­is­fy­ing, and most of the time it’s fun. But it’s also work, and your visi­tors ap­pre­ci­ate that. You will feel good — re­ally good — about your gar­den and your efforts. 6. It’s not just about flow­ers. Open Gar­den Week cel­e­brates ev­ery type of gar­den, from col­lec­tions of trees or shrubs to “ur­ban farms” where a whole gar­den is de­voted to ed­i­bles. Whether your gar­den is an over­flow­ing cot­tagestyle gar­den or a min­i­mal­ist de­sign, there are visi­tors who want to see it.

7. Bonus: You get a nifty Open Gar­den Week sign to let visi­tors know they’re at the right place — and it dou­bles as a sou­venir of your par­tic­i­pa­tion.

Con­vinced? I hope so. Be­lieve me when I say you will en­joy it and you will be in great com­pany. So here’s how to be part: Send the fol­low­ing in­for­ma­tion, in this or­der, to gar­den­writer@bell.net

• Ad­dress

• Near­est in­ter­sec­tion or com­mu­nity if it’s a ru­ral ad­dress. (Al­most ev­ery­one has ac­cess to GPS or Google maps now.)

• Your name.

• De­scrip­tion of your gar­den in 25 words or less.

• The dates (from June 24 to July 1 in­clu­sive) and hours you will open your gar­den.

• A phone num­ber by which the list­ing can be ver­i­fied (it will not be pub­lished).

Email me the in­for­ma­tion by

Mon­day, June 11. This is a firm dead­line. The list­ings will appear in The Spec­ta­tor shortly be­fore the event be­gins.

That’s it, folks. Hope to hear from you soon.

BARRY GRAY HAMIL­TON SPEC­TA­TOR FILE PHOTO

Hamil­ton Spec­ta­tor Open Gar­den Week 2018 runs from Sun­day, June 24 to Sun­day, July 1. And for it to be a suc­cess, it needs you.

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