Peer over your neighbour's fence
• To find gardens, comb the community and ask other gardeners for recommendations. Try to have at least half of the gardens clustered near each other. For a one-day tour with nine or 10 gardens, you may need to check out twice as many or more. If you're planning a year ahead, visit gardens at roughly the same time as the proposed tour date. If you don't have the luxury of planning this far in advance, talk to each gardener about what they expect to be in bloom at the time of the tour and how lush the overall effect will be. Then use your imagination. Line up gardens that offer varied inspiration and information; for example, small creative spaces, vegetable gardens grown by the square-foot method, Japanese-themed gardens, expansive beds and borders, water gardens and drought-tolerant plantings. If this is to be an annual event, keep an inventory of gardens you don't use this time around for future tours.
• Make sure all the owners of gardens on your tour have homeowners' insurance that covers any accidents that could occur on their properties.
Wear a sandwich board
• Is your budget for posters and leaflets tiny? Consider a barter arrangement: seek out a graphic designer who may welcome gardening advice or labour in return for design skills. Or run a local art competition to find a winning image for your poster. Ask local businesses to sponsor or subsidize printing in return for acknowledgement of their involvement—it's good promotion for them. Trade garden tour tickets for favours.
• You'll need the usual five Ws on all promotional material—who, what, where, when and why—and don't forget the price of tickets and where to buy them (tickets are commonly sold at local garden centres). Proofread everything carefully.
• Advertise well ahead of time and wherever you can. Keep in mind that garden magazines that list events should be contacted three to four months in advance; local radio stations and newspapers need less lead time.
• Brainstorm about possible places to put up posters and hand out leaflets.
• Consider having other events at the gardens. Plant sales are very successful, as are sales of garden-related items. Vendors selling pre-selected wares should pay a fee to your organization.