Honoured to have guest blogger Alexander Campbell here advising us how to use social media to find hidden gardens:
Would you like to see private gardens while you’re on holiday? Open gardens schemes all over the world – and social media – mean that you can!
I recently went to Australia to visit family. Before I left the UK, I found @opengardensvictoria on Instagram. I spotted a garden I wanted to see – and it had an open day while we were there. It was Gunyah Garden, a small suburban garden showing how much food you can grow in a small space. And it specialises in native species.
When we got to Australia, I spotted a leaflet for that very garden pinned to my sister-in-law’s fridge. I felt as if I was already part of the community.
She and I visited the garden together, and were asked where we’d heard about the garden from. She said she’d picked up a leaflet at her local horticultural society (known as The Hort). I said ‘Instagram’!
It’s relatively easy to find professional or semi-professional open gardens as most tourist authorities list gardens and parks (just Google open gardens + your destination). Finding the smaller home gardens in some countries means exploring social media and getting lucky…
I’m one of the organisers for our own local open gardens event, Faversham Open Gardens & Market Day (25th June, 10am-5pm). Faversham is an ancient town and we’re now the largest one-day open gardens event in the South East, with over 30 private gardens open. We get visitors from all over Britain, Holland and France.
We use Facebook and Instagram (@favershamopengardens) to help get our message out. We post updates from the gardens. We also share news of other local garden openings.
Many of our visitors find us on the UK open gardens directory: http://www.opengardens.co.uk . This is a useful resource for finding local garden events that aren’t part of the NGS Open Gardens scheme. Of course, the NGS (www.ngs.org.uk) is a fab place to find open gardens all over the UK, too.
And if you’re going abroad, there are equivalents in some countries: there’s a directory of French open gardens on http://www.opengardens.eu/ on Facebook. There is the Danish Society of Open Gardens: https://www.danishgardens.dk/ or @danishgardens.dk on Instagram. And so on.
When you’ve booked your flight, simply type ‘open gardens + destination’ into your Twitter, Instagram or Facebook ‘search’ box.
The results are very variable, and you have to do some digging (excuse the pun!), but that’s part of the fun. Some open gardens open an Instagram account, then only post five photos. Others, like @opengardensvictoria or @opensquaresweekend (London Open Squares Weekend) are worth following even if you’re never going to Australia or London.
Once you find a garden or a garden-lover on Twitter or Instagram, look at the accounts they follow. You’ll discover gardens that you won’t find on the tourist listings. For example, I found @brockwell_greenhouses when poking around in @opensquaresweekend’s followers on Instagram. They’ve got a project on growing ginger in a traditional Victorian hotbed. Now there’s interesting!
So I rootled about to see who @brockwell_greenhouses was following in turn. As well as finding other South London garden initiatives, I also found gardeners and gardens in Yorkshire, Pittsburgh and @guerillagarden who do ‘rogue rooftop gardening in New York City.’
You can do the same thing on Twitter. Actually, you don’t need to go on holiday at all! Just follow local and international gardens and gardeners on Instagram or Twitter. You’ll find out what gardeners all over the world are up to.
Alexandra Campbell writes the highly acclaimed Middlesized Garden blog, click here to visit.