As much as we enjoy pottering around our own gardens, touring a public garden can offer a refreshing change, allowing us to appreciate plants without constantly adding weeding, pruning, and other chores to a mental to-do list. Public gardens provide inspiration, education, and a chance for a relaxing stroll with friends or family. Many also offer fun events and facility rentals. With all of these wonderful benefits, it seems fitting that we should celebrate National Public Gardens Day.
Although in 2022 National Public Gardens Day falls on May 6, the exact date changes each year. This annual celebration of public gardens falls on the Friday before Mother’s Day.
History of National Public Gardens Day
The American Public Gardens Association partnered with Rain Bird, an irrigation company, to create National Public Gardens Day, which was officially recognized by Congress in 2010. In addition to raising awareness about public gardens, the American Public Gardens Association states that “the day honors the roles that public gardens play in promoting green living, sustainability, plant and water conservation, and healthy outdoor activity.”
The Association has since dedicated a full 10 days to the occasion with Go Public Gardens Days, from the Friday before Mothers’ Day to the Sunday following. This initiative encourages people to value, visit, and volunteer at public gardens, both locally and when traveling.
How to celebrate National Public Gardens Day
How do you celebrate National Public Gardens Day? By visiting a public garden, of course! If you’re not sure where the nearest public garden is, check out the American Public Gardens Association’s handy map.
In addition to botanical gardens, public gardens include arboreta, historical gardens, and even some zoos. Visit one just to walk through and look at all of the plants, or check their website for special events like special tours, educational talks, or children’s activities.
If you don’t have any public gardens close enough for a day trip, consider taking a long weekend to visit one you’ve been wanting to see, or do some research to find out if there are any near a planned vacation destination. Butchart Gardens are a must-visit you don’t want to miss.
Another option allows you to visit a variety of public gardens without going anywhere at all: the Norfolk Botanical Garden’s Virtual Garden Profiles. This free online event takes place during Go Public Gardens Days (May 7-16, 2021) and features tours and talks from public gardens across the country.
Finally, consider signing up to volunteer with a local public garden. Not only is this a great way to support public gardens, but it’s sometimes more fun to work in someone else’s garden than your own! Plus, becoming a long-term volunteer often comes with perks, such as free admission, free or discounted events, and gift shop discounts, not to mention what you learn while working.
Even if you don’t get to visit a public garden this National Public Garden Day — either in-person or online — I hope you get the chance to tour one soon because they’re a lot of fun. And you might just find yourself appreciating them all year long.
Serena Manickam is a freelance editor and writer and sustainable market gardener in rural Virginia. She holds a BA in environmental science and runs Fairydiddle Farm, a small market garden in which she grows no-spray produce and herbs to sell at a local farmer’s market.