Gardening Geek: Travel Edition

Spring is taking her sweet time this year, with the first daffodils finally blooming yesterday. But it is still cold and cloudy and rainy with no warm up in the forecast for the next several days. What better time is there to leave the garden, even for just a few days, to go someplace warmer, where spring is much further along?

Yes, it's time for a little traveling, gardening geek style.

You might be a traveling gardening geek if…

You plan your vacation destinations based on what gardens are nearby. Bonus points if your primary vacation activity IS visiting gardens.

When you arrive in a new city, you look in the yellow pages to see if there are any interesting garden centers nearby. Bonus points if you looked online before you left home to read about those garden centers ahead of time.

As you are driving to your actual destination, you make an unexpected stop to see a garden because you didn’t realize you would be that close to it. Bonus points if it was 100 degrees in the shade on the day you toured the garden.

You pack a few extra plastic bags to put plant cuttings in for the return trip home. Bonus points if you actually brought home new plants.

When you visit a book store out of town, you first go to the gardening section. Bonus points if you bought yourself a new gardening book as a souvenir.

After a few days, your hotel room looks like a well-stocked conservatory with recently purchased plants in the window. Bonus points if some of those same plants could be bought at your neighborhood garden center, but you bought them out of town because they just looked better to you. Double bonus points if you asked for a hotel room with a south facing window because the light would be better for the plants.

You chose to drive instead of fly to your destination so you could bring back more plants. Bonus points if you always keep an extra bag or two and a little spade or trowel in the trunk of your car for digging up a plant, should one be offered to you when you visit a friend’s garden.

You are willing to fly to your destination, even though you hate flying, because the gardening event is too good to miss. Bonus points just for doing this one.

When you get home from your trip, it is another two days before you unpack because you are too busy getting caught up in the garden to bother with something like unpacking. Bonus points if you remembered to at least unpack any plants right away. (Thanks to MSS at Zanthan Gardens for this one, the inspiration for this post.)

When you arrive home from a trip at night, you go straight out to the garden with a flashlight to see what has grown since you left. Bonus points if you worked in the garden with flashlights and spotlights the first night home. Double bonus points if you have a hat with a spotlight built in that you use for night gardening.

When you get home from your trip and look at your pictures, all of them are of gardens. Bonus points if you at least asked your travel companions to be in some of the pictures, mostly so you could add something of known size to the picture so you could later recall the size of the plants around them.

You are NOT a gardening geek if you collected any plants, cuttings from plants, or seeds from the wild or from a public or private garden without permission. If you did that, you forfeit all regular points and do not get any bonus points. Turn your Felco pruners in at the exit on your way out of the garden geekdom.

Are you a traveling gardening geek?


  1. You bet and I know I am in good company! LOL at this one Carol.

  2. Hah! I love the de-throning at end of this post. People who take plants (or plant labels) from public gardens are SO uncool and definitely don't deserve to call themselves geeks. (I might not have earned all of the bonus points but I'm proud to be a TGG in good company)

  3. definitely a travel garden geek. and i never return home without new plants and books.

  4. Absolutely! Thanks for the packing the plastic bags to bring stuff home idea. How will this work with the airlines new rules?

  5. You can take cuttings, divisions etc. on the plane in a bag...I've dug up things in my garden in the morning and planted them in my daughter's garden later that one's even questioned me about them. As for other daughter travels a lot and now takes photos of gardens for am I an armchair gardening geek?

  6. Leslie, thanks. Do you put them in the checked luggage or carry them on?

  7. Your post brought back memories of tenderly carting a liriope plant from NC to IL in July. Liriope seemed so exotic before I had 200 running feet of it.

    There's a rooted piece of stapelia waiting for you in Austin, Carol the Garden Geek.

    Annie at the Transplantable Rose

  8. I've taken divisions as carry-on in a plastic bag inside a cloth shopping bag. Iris rhizomes have traveled in my suitcase also as carry-on. In case it makes a difference it's always been Southwest.

  9. Stumbled on your blog. Ill definitely come again. Lovely photo.

  10. Oh Carol, great post..Again! Hope you all do take lots of pictures to share with those of us who aren't going. I'd say have fun, but I already know you will.

  11. I've never brought plants home from a vacation, but I think I qualify for this on the basis of my honeymoon alone. We went to the Lake District in Italy at the end of April. We spent most of our time visiting all the gardens there, so nearly all our photos are in gardens.

  12. Ok, When I was a kid I would dig up plants from the woods behind my house and bring them home (like wild stawberries, johnny jump-ups, and various wildflowers)- I am so busted! I was just a kid - I didn't know any better. Please forgive me! (Oh, the shame, the shame)I don't do that anymore though. Now I just collect seeds and cuttings ;)

  13. Fellow Traveling Gardening Geeks, Thanks for the nice comments and the tips on taking home plants on airplanes!

    Carol, May Dreams Gardens

  14. Yep, I am a TGG. I have brought Plant starts home in plastic bags. Sometimes in carry on but lots of times in the big suitcase. They are only in there for a day so they do ok. Kind of like air mailing them.

  15. I am quite sure I am a gardening geek. I'm looking forward to meeting a bunch more in Austin..If I can just clear off this spot on my desk first.


    Robin at Bumblebee

  16. Oh yes. I laughed out loud at the bit about coming home in the dark and going straight to the garden with a flashlight to see what's happened while I was gone. Yes, I scope out gardens to visit ahead of time. Yes, I buy gardening books while I'm there. I don't usually bring plants home, but that's only because I think of Austin's climate as being too picky for most plants from other parts of the country.

    Can't wait to meet all the traveling garden geeks this weekend.

  17. Ha ha! I've turned my traveling husband into a traveling garden geek. He goes all over the world on business trips and I've got him taking photos of plants and gardens just for me :) Thankfully, he's very obliging and enthusiatic about it all.

  18. I garden-geeked out on a trip to Austin. Even considered stalking Felder Rushing's house to see his truck vegetable crop!
    Looking forward to hanging with the rest of the geeks out there this weekend.

  19. Heh...very funny post Carol! I don't travel all that much, but I do carry a shovel and baggies at all times for any "emergency collecting". And the night gardening...all the time. (I do actually plan to buy a hat light this year! :)

  20. Um... you mean people actually travel for reasons OTHER THAN looking at gardens?! ;-)

    I think another trait is that you're actually reluctant to leave your own garden for fear of missing something bloom at home, as much as you love seeing other gardens! I tend to plan my travel around less exciting bloom times locally. It was major trauma when I had to leave a few days last May during my peak smoke tree bloom. (It's small. It has been through trauma. It was its first years plume bloom!)

    ~ Monica

  21. I came across this post a few days ago, didn't bookmark it, but it stuck with me. Finally, I found it again!

    I've just started gardening again after a hiatus that was partially brought on by (non-gardening related) frequent travel. I just wasn't able to merge my interests and responsibilities at that time.

    But I'm back into it and am also planning a trip in the near future. So I've now got some items to add to my travel checklist. ;)




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