The Garden Conservancy is kind enough every year to send me a copy of the Open Days Directory, and I always enjoy having a look, but the 2008 edition is noteworthy. Never mind that the process by which it's produced is far more "green"; the book is much more attractive than in the past. The cover is a rugged, textured stock, and the inside pages are thin, like parchment. And there are color photographs now—beautiful ones. The printing is very well done, so the pictures are very clean-looking. There are also some new sections (OK, I'm rummaging around and can find 2004 - 2006, so who knows how new they really are) outlining, in a very nicely designed format, how to use the book and what's going on.
So. What IS going on? The Garden Conservancy is an organization that works to preserve important American landscapes both public and private. It funds this work partially through its Open Days program, which allows visitors (like us!) to access mostly private gardens, each for one or two days a year, that aren't usually open to the public. (There are some public gardens that are involved too, and the access for those varies.) Admission to each garden is $5, and if you get the book, you get one free admission ticket. If you're a member, you get the book free, too.
The book lists all the gardens, with descriptions, directions and what days they're open. You can get the same information here, but the book is prettier and you can keep it in your glove compartment.
The Open Days program is fairly well represented in Ithaca and the Syracuse area. If you're in Rochester or Buffalo, not so much. This coming Saturday, April 5, Hitch Lyman's legendary snowdrops are on display in Trumansburg. There are other Ithaca area gardens open June 14 and July 12 and on July 13 there are four in Cazenovia.
If you travel a lot, the book is definitely recommended. If you carry your AHS membership card too, there's pretty much nowhere you can't go. You can purchase the book here.
Photo credit: I swiped this from the Garden Conservancy's Web site.
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