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.
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.
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!