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When secret gardens open their doors

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If a gardener can’t be in his or her own garden, where’s the next best place? Someone else’s, of course. And thanks to the Garden Conservancy’s Open Days program, you can walk through the gate of private gardens that you might not otherwise ever be able to see.
The program began in 1995 and is modeled on England’s National Gardens Scheme. Since then, thousands of gardens from coast to coast—including my own garden in New York’s Hudson Valley—have been included.
Each year, almost 50 percent of the gardens are new to the program, and I knew a road trip was in the offing when I found out the Garden Conservancy was going to have its first Open Day in Jacksonville, an hour and a half up the coast from me, last weekend. Just as I expected, the gardens offered beauty and inspiration at every turn.
This year the program includes gardens in 16 states and runs through the beginning of November. To find an Open Day near you, see the schedule here:
https://www.gardenconservancy.org/opendays/open-days-schedule

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  • Glenda
    Glenda Dixon, IL
    on Mar 25, 2014

    Inspirational! Thank you for sharing.

  • Barbara Sawyer
    Barbara Sawyer Umatilla, FL
    on Mar 25, 2014

    This is a lovely garden, enjoyed the pictures. Are there other gardens in Florida that are open to visit - specifically Central Florida?

    • Douglas Hunt
      Douglas Hunt New Smyrna Beach, FL
      on Mar 25, 2014

      @Barbara Sawyer Sometimes there are local garden tours but it can be hard to find out about them. Try checking with your local garden clubs. The Fort Lauderdale Garden Club, for example, has a "secret gardens" tour every February. I did speak with the head of the Open Days program, who was in Jacksonville, about having an Open Day in Orlando next year in conjunction with Leu Gardens.

  • Sue Dietz
    Sue Dietz Bristol, TN
    on Mar 25, 2014

    Thanks for sharing. This is a beautiful garden and one that inspires.

    • Douglas Hunt
      Douglas Hunt New Smyrna Beach, FL
      on Mar 25, 2014

      @Sue Dietz I'm so glad you enjoyed the visit.

  • Kathleen
    Kathleen Chattanooga, TN
    on Mar 25, 2014

    Beautiful garden, Douglas. I am thinking about putting in a smoke tree/bush at our new home as a front yard feature. Would love your input on these.

    • Douglas Hunt
      Douglas Hunt New Smyrna Beach, FL
      on Mar 25, 2014

      @Kathleen I never had the right spot for one, but I like the purple-leafed cultivars of smokebush. They're pretty trouble-free and a good size for many yards.

  • Rose S
    Rose S Marietta, GA
    on Mar 25, 2014

    Love it, love it, love it. The big fern in picture number six is one I tried to overwinter in zone 7a. It did not work. So I went and got another one from Melbourne Beach, and now I keep two of them in the house during Winter. I can't remember the name, it is not the Maidenhair, but the huge one. I first saw it in Hawaii and fell in love with it. Every picture such great color and texture. ThanksDouglas. :-)

    • Douglas Hunt
      Douglas Hunt New Smyrna Beach, FL
      on Apr 7, 2014

      @Rose S I was at Longwood Garden today and there was the same fern, ID'd as "Phlebodium aureum "Blue Star."

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