Tapping into the booming growth of garden tourism

garden tours
Green Mountain Garden Tours. Photo provided.

REGION – July 2018 will be a busy month for garden tours. On Saturday, July 21, Green Mountain Gardeners will host Mountain Garden Walks, a tour of gardens in Peru, Weston, and Landgrove. And on the same day, the Mount Holly Community Association will host their 11th annual Garden Tour in Belmont and surrounding communities.

Vermont’s penchant for gardening events and tours was influenced by trends in England. Throughout Vermont, garden clubs and community organizations reflect the English tradition of hosting gardening events and tours to benefit restoration of historic properties, civic beautification, and scholarships for local students pursuing horticulture and related fields.

Opening private gardens to raise money for charities began in England in 1927. The National Gardens Scheme responded to a request from the Queen’s Institute of District Nursing to raise needed funds. As of 2015, an estimated £50 million has been donated to charities across the U.K. thanks to the private garden owners participating in the National Gardens Scheme program.

Londonderry Historical Society – now the Londonderry Arts & Historical Society – initiated annual garden tours in 1997 to preserve and renovate the artist Bernadine Custer Sharp’s property that had been bequeathed to the town. Led by a core group of Green Mountain Gardeners, the 1997-2007 annual tours raised over $15,000. Building the success of the historical society tours, Green Mountain Gardeners initiated public garden tours in 2016 across the towns of Landgrove, Londonderry, Peru, and Weston to support the Lib Thieme scholarship fund for local students.

garden tour
Mount Holly garden tour. Photo provided.

Mount Holly Community Association has been following a similar path of Londonderry since launching their annual garden tours to restore their historic building in the heart of Belmont, which houses the Mount Holly Community Center and the Mount Holly Town Library. Originally a Methodist Church, this building is now owned by the town of Mount Holly and maintained by the volunteer, nonprofit Community Association.

Summertime is the busiest time of year for tourism in Vermont with more than 5 million visitors who account for peak spending of Vermont’s $2.6 billion tourism industry. The “aesthetic” beauty of Vermont’s gardens and landscape are cited most often in visitor surveys and as one top reason for brides selecting Vermont for their weddings. A big thanks to all whom till the soil to create such beauty; what a wonderful way to contribute to local economies, charities, and scholarships.

For more information on GMG Mountain Garden Tours, please go to www.greenmountaingardeners.com. Mount Holly Garden Tour updates can be found on the Mount Holly Community Association Facebook at www.facebook.com/mounthollycommunityassociation.

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