COVID-19 Gardening Garden visits Gardening Public Gardens

Public Gardens Reopening After COVID-19 Shutdown

Butchart Gardens, in Victoria, British Columbia, was one of the first gardens to reopen after the COVID-19 crisis. It’s been open since May 1st. Photo: w4nn3s, Wikimedia Commons

After many months of closure, public gardens are (modestly) reopening after the COVID-19 confinement. 

I’m not going to produce a list here, as the information changes practically on a daily basis, but probably well over half are now open and ready to receive visitors, both in North America and around the world. In fact, if I chose to write this article on June 20, National Garden Day in Canada, it’s because I’ve found that it appears to be “the big day” for a particularly large number of gardens.

Hershery Gardens, in Hershey, Pennsylvania, is scheduled to reopen today. Photo:

So, do check head on the garden’s website or by phoning ahead—you don’t want to be disappointed!—but there are likely to be public gardens open right now near where you live and if you’re looking for a bit of a break from your own confinement, a visit to a beautiful garden, out in the fresh air, might be exactly what the doctor called for! For example, when I checked on Longwood Gardens in Pennsylvania, my favorite, I found it was open, but had recently opened, but to members only and that reservations were required.

Visiting Gardens… Differently

Of course, visiting gardens in the COVID-19 era will likely be a bit different.

  • You may be checked at the gate and asked questions about your health. Obviously, you shouldn’t even be considering visiting a garden if you present any symptoms that could be linked to COVID-19, like a cough, a fever or difficulty breathing. You will likely also not be allowed in the garden if you’ve been in contact with someone suffering those symptoms in the last 14 days or have been out of the country in the last 14 days.
  • There will probably be hand washing/disinfection stations at the entry point and possibly elsewhere in the garden. Make sure you use them.
  • There may be restrictions as to how many visitors are allowed in the garden at any one time, so be patient and wait your turn. 
  • Some gardens will be offering timed tickets you can purchase online and that will allow you ready access. Just buying tickets at the door may result in a delay.
  • Always maintain the appropriate physical distance (6 ft/2 m in most areas).
  • Wear an appropriate face mask, even if this is not yet required by law in your area.
  • Stay on the paths and follow any directional arrows. 
  • Children (and pets, in gardens where they are allowed) should stay with parents at all times.
  • Do enjoy your garden visit, but if there are many people, don’t linger too long in any one spot; that will slow down everyone’s visit.
  • The use of water fountains may not be authorized: bring your own bottled water.
  • Restaurants and cafés may be closed or functioning on a reduced level, so you may want to bring a picnic lunch (where allowed).
  • Many gardens are only opening outdoor parts of their garden at this point: greenhouses, boutiques, pavilions and other structures may still be closed. 
  • Other services (guided visits, special events, groupings of more than a specific number of people, etc.) may well be temporarily canceled as well. 
Adelaide Botanical Garden, one of my favourite gardens in Australia, is presently open. Travel restrictions being what they are, I won’t be able to visit any time soon, but I have plenty of local gardens to visit. Photo: Bahudhara, Wikimedia Commons

So, do visit a garden today! And visit many others over the summer. They’ve all lost revenue due to this COVID-19 crisis and desperately need your help.

And a final suggestion: yes, most public gardens charge an admission fee, but please consider making a further donation. Let’s show our favorite gardens we really care!

Garden writer and blogger, author of 65 gardening books, lecturer and communicator, the Laidback Gardener, Larry Hodgson, passed away in October 2022. Known for his great generosity, his thoroughness and his sense of humor, he reached several generations of amateur and professional gardeners over his 40-year career. Thanks to his son, Mathieu Hodgson, and a team of contributors, will continue its mission of demystifying gardening and making it more accessible to all.

4 comments on “Public Gardens Reopening After COVID-19 Shutdown

  1. It looks like a flying saucer crashed in Adelaide.

  2. I love that buchart gardens photo. I actually have the jigsaw puzzle of that picture and it’s hanging on my bedroom wall. I’d love to see it.

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