Monday Opinion: The Garden Cruise Event

It is never that hard to spot a gardener.  They treat everything associated with it as an event worthy of celebration. Ther excitement is genuine-even when there is a threat of thunderstorms looming, and an unwavering forecast for 89 degrees.  The weather proved to be something other than predicted; an overcast sky made it infintely easier to tolerate the heat.  By day’s end, people began to filter in to our reception; we were ready for them.  Christine, Monica and Jenny-looking good!

Ms. Minnie has a garden every bit as exuberant and extravagantly dressed as she is.  I would never garden as she does, nor would she garden as I do-but we are gardening friends.  She came with friends in tow all looking like they were all on their way to church.  This analogy is not far off, really.  Gardening people, people concerned about the environment, naturalists, zoologists and biologists, horticulturalists-no end of people have the idea that anything associated with the living world demands proper respect. As in, go to church, and thank God for what you have.  

I do not own a single outfit as sumptuous as Minnie’s, but I view every aspect of landscape and gardening as an event.   This is why I so enjoy the garden tour.  I have long since quit fretting about the one rose I missed in my deadheading rounds before a tour.  Gardeners understand that a landscape is an evolving set of events that even the most dedicated would be hard pressed to keep up with. They talk lots about what looks good and is working, and studiously ignore what languishes.  Sometimes things in a garden just sulk, no matter what you do.

Judy presented a rather extraordinary picture with this maple helicopter firmly affixed to her nose.  Did you know that is you split one open, it is sticky on the inside?  I did not.  Apparently she and her brother would stick themselves all over with helicopters when they fell.  I was glad I had missed picking some up before the tour-how else would I have learned this, but for my less than perfect housekeeping? 

Skirts and shorts were the order of the day.  This picture says nothing about the heat, just everything about a group of devoted gardeners getting together, and happy to share their love of gardens.

Julia Hofley, noted garden speaker, and her husband Eric, owner and publisher of The Michigan Gardener, are gardeners of the most serious sort.  They go as many places, in as many countries as they can manage-visiting and learning about gardeners and their gardens. They study and are most articulate about everything from dwarf conifers to roses hardy in our zone to design to effective deer repellant. They are enthusiastic and articulate advocates of the natural world and all that goes with.  They managed to take this picture of themselves with my camera; I have no idea what their process was here. This might be the most evocative picture of the day-intense interest and pleasure in participating in the event-all over their faces.

I used to draw conclusions about women and gardens, based on the footwear-but no more.  I have seen no end of open toed high heels, snappy sandals and dressy outfits navigate a landscape without any problem.  Why not-gardens are for partying as much as anything else. In this case, I think there may have been a change of clothes for the reception on the part of one guest, but not the other. Do not they both look great?

No matter the dress, it was clear there was an event going on.  As long as as there are gardens, there will be garden events. Celebrations around the seasons.  It is important and satisfying to help make things grow. 

If you were not able to make the reception for the 2010 garden tour, perhaps you’ll be available in 2011.  It was a heck of a lot of good fun. Fast and furious discourse.  Exchange.  Intelligent and imaginative exchange.  All the things that people do best.


  1. Looks like fun! I love garden tours for gardeners … everyone understands when the slugs have destroyed a hosta or the monarda just didn’t bloom like it usually does.

  2. Hi Deborah,
    I live in Texas and couldn’t make the cruise, but my sister and her friends who live in southern Michigan made the drive north to see the gardens — and had the good fortune to meet you at the shop afterward.

    She’s filled me in on nearly every detail, including that she’s spent several hours today googling hydrangeas. She loved your use of them in so many of the landscapes. If convenient for you, perhaps you could do a “blog lesson” (post) on ‘hydrangeas for novices’ at some point in the future? We’re certain you have your usual good tips and techniques for making them look so magnificent.

    Pls know how much your loyal readers appreciate all that you do and share. Even though we don’t always take the time to comment to your posts. Frankly, at least for me, it’s becuase you leave me speechless. But don’t ever interpret the lack of comments to mean a lack of interest. We read you faithfully every day!

    It appears the Cruise was a HUGE success — congrats to you and your hardworking team (and the host gardeners) for doing this for such a worthy cause! Especially in all that heat (before AND during) — you all are very special people.

  3. What a fabulous group. Love the bright colors! And I really need to spiff up my straw hat.

  4. Judy Cornellier says

    You have to keep the child alive inside or miss the simple things in life. A maple helicopter on my nose makes me feel young again. Thanks Deborah for a wonderful day of gardens and friends.

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