Please, let there never be a Yelp or a Tripadvisor for garden tours

I know some people hate this; I can see it in their faces.

I was just reading about visitors to Sequoia National Park and Yellowstone leaving 1 star reviews for the natural attractions because they didn’t have a great meal at the cafeteria, or, as the reviewer would call it, the “crappy lodge.” (DO click on this compilation of such reviews; it is hilarious.)

Then I checked the TA and Yelp sites and only found three or four adulatory general comments about Garden Walk Buffalo on Yelp. BUT, what if people zeroed in on individual gardens and said the kinds of horrible things some say when they go to such monumental and amazing places as the Grand Canyon? Stuff like this: “let me tell you, it’s a big ole waste of time! There was dirt EVERYWHERE, and the hiking trail was too long! Also where are the vending machines??”

I can imagine my garden receiving comments such as:

  • “Seriously? We had to wait to walk into this place because the pathway (if you can call it that) is super narrow and surrounded by overgrown weeds (or whatever, I couldn’t tell what they were). It was a good thing I didn’t trip on the stone pavers which are uneven and really need to be fixed.”
  • “Has this person ever heard of design? Color coordination? Everything is planted way too thick and plants are just jammed up against each other.”
  • “Super creepy! They have a hanging torso and other body parts made out of metal in the corner, thankfully obscured by some kind of overgrown shrub. Who would even think of making something like that and who would buy it if they did? These people, I guess.”
  • “It took us forever to find parking. They should really do something about that.”
  • “We almost didn’t walk into the garden because the front part is so boring. Just green, green, green. There were some flowers in the back, though. It was kind of worth it.”
  • “Someone should tell this owner that when hundreds of people are coming through her garden she could at least comb her hair and have a clean shirt on.”
  • “There were no restrooms within walking distance.”

For now, I am going to assume that, as incredible as it seems in today’s world, people are still too nice to do this. But it could happen!

P.s.: Just one more. Someone really said this about Yellowstone: “Was extremely underwhelmed. If you want a similar look, just boil a pot of water at home.”

Previous articleBorder Control
Next articleParkland, FL School Garden as Place for Learning and Healing

Elizabeth Licata has been a regular writer for  Garden Rant since 2007, after contributing a guest rant about the overuse of American flags in front gardens. She lives and gardens in Buffalo, N.Y., which, far from the frozen wasteland many assume it to be, is a lush paradise of gardens, historic architecture, galleries, museums, theaters, and fun. As editor of Buffalo Spree magazine,  Licata helps keep Western New Yorkers apprised about what is happening in their region. She is also a freelance writer and art curator, who’s been published in Fine Gardening, Horticulture, ArtNews, Art in America, the Village Voice, and many other publications. She does regular radio segments for the local NPR affiliate, WBFO.

Licata is involved with Garden Walk Buffalo, the largest free garden tour in the US and possibly the world, and has written the text for a book about Garden Walk. She has also written and edited several art-related books. Contact Elizabeth: ealicata at


  1. I’m certain there are people out there who would criticize gardens on tour because there are always people like that; however, I think the criticism says more about the person than the garden(s). Some may be clueless about how much work goes into a garden or the additional work necessary to display a garden on tour. Some simply lack tact. Plus, for those who are avid gardeners, their garden is an extension of themselves. such that the criticism may be taken personally. This has happened to me.

    I think it takes guts to put ones private garden on tour.

    Garden styles vary widely so what appeals to one may not appeal to another, but regardless, I think most of us would agree that comments should stay respectful. That said, while I’ve always supported anyone who gardens, I’ve not been a fan of every garden I’ve viewed.

    I hope, at least online, that I’ve never offended anyone by writing, “Oh, I’m not crazy about those types of plants” when the person’s garden is filled with them. I admit to being stupid sometimes and saying/writing things that weren’t meant to be offensive, but probably were. Mea Culpa!

    • I think many are real. Some are probably t-i-c. Your never know with Tripadvisor. And from what I see in the mainstream public discourse these days, I take nothing for granted.

      • Sadly, have to agree with Elizabeth here. The dumbing down of America seems to accompanied by a marked rude-ending Up of it. I think we can blame the Internet and its anonymity; worse, many people seem emboldened by His Orange Rudeness in the WH.
        Elizabeth, your post is terrific and as always, I appreciate your sly, quirky humor! As for Emperor Rump, am fervently hoping that Congress will soon tell him,
        “You’re Fired!”

    • Having heard some similarly bizarre comments in National Parks (“Don’t they publish a schedule for when the geyser’s gonna go off?” at Yellowstone, and “Do they turn it off at night?”), I have to say I think those are real comments. Some people cannot grasp Nature’s grandeur. They really think it’s all just programming of one sort or another.

  2. It is unfortunate that the Internet seems to empower people who have nothing to say, and to encourage negative comments. I find it appalling that anyone would make such comments regarding our great natural wonders. Perhaps our society is getting to blind to anything not man-made. At least no real gardeners would turn a blind eye to nature!

    • Ha! If Garden Walk becomes famous enough so that people who really should not attend just come blindly because it’s a thing (like the Tetons), I full expect those comments will exist in reality.

  3. If someone leaves a bad review about the Grand Tetons, I’m going to punch them in the face.

    All right, all right, I’m not a violent person, but I do remember when my hairdresser (when I lived in Los Angeles for a little while in the 70s) complained to me about Oregon’s ocean beaches. She said, “We were bored, there was nothing to do.” Guess she thought she would find a Magic Mountain Park, or Disneyland on the coast. So yes I believe people really do leave reviews like that.

    • Well I feel her pain. In the type of dry shade conditions like I have, ferns cannot always stand in for hostas, as much as you might like them to.

  4. I’m a survivor of a Private Garden Tour hosted by our Botanical Center. I suspect there was some mumbling about the bare patches in my newly planted groundcovers and maybe a few about my exposed drip irrigation. But those comments about our National Treasures- hilarious and sad. I recall an ex-sister in law proclaiming how much she disliked the Upper Peninsula of Michigan because the roads were too “wind-y”. Darn engineers for not laying out straight, boring roads! It takes all kinds.


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here