We’ve put together these FAQs based on the questions we get asked most often. If you have any specific questions or would like a copy of our full Terms and Conditions, don’t hesitate to send us an email to [email protected].

Q: I’d love to show interested people around my garden… but my garden’s not perfect!

A: Secret Gardens is not about perfection. In fact, we believe that there’s no such thing as a perfect garden – gardens are ever-evolving, year by year, and across the seasons. Our aim is to make a whole range of diverse and inspiring gardens available for curious gardeners to visit, and we think there’s plenty to be learnt from even an ‘imperfect’ garden, or a garden that’s ‘work in progress’ (let’s face it, aren’t they all!).

Q: How much does it cost to list my garden on the Secret Gardens website?

A: There’s no up-front fee for listing on the Secret Gardens website, however we do retain a 20% commission from booking fees for all garden visits and workshops.

In return, Secret Gardens takes care of all website set-up, hosting and maintenance, visitor enquiries and pro-active marketing. We collect payments and handle cancellations, refunds, vouchers and all the other associated admin, so you can focus on what they do best – gardening, and talking to visitors about their garden!

Q: How do I go about listing my garden on the Secret Gardens website.

A: Our collection of Secret Gardens is curated – so garden owners need to apply to be listed, by filling out an online application form.

We have a panel that meets every month to review all the new applications and identify those that we think could be a good fit for Secret Gardens. In terms of criteria, we assess each garden on a case by case basis – taking into account your location, the types of gardens our followers are interested in, and your specific areas of interest and skills.

The next step is to meet you over the phone/or by Zoom, and ideally one of us would also visit your garden in person too.

Q: If I’m listed with Secret Gardens can I take bookings through my own website, or take part in other events like ‘Open Garden’ fundraisers or garden festivals etc

A. If you are listed with Secret Gardens, all paid visits to your garden are required to go through the Secret Gardens website booking system. If you have existing relationships with community groups or local garden festivals etc these can be excluded – we just need to talk this through upfront.

This ‘exclusivity clause’ is in place for a couple of reasons. Firstly, from a purely logistics point of view, our booking platform isn’t designed to synchronise with other booking systems – so it could all get very confusing if you had multiple systems running and result in double bookings.

Most importantly though, we put in a significant investment up front when on-boarding new Hosts – travelling to visit and photograph you and your garden, writing and compiling your webpage and training you up to use your platform confidently. So you can see that the business model simply wouldn’t work if a Host were to use Secret Gardens as their ‘shop window’ while taking bookings through their own site, or as cash sales. We rely on the commission from your bookings to help cover these set-up costs, as well as the ongoing costs associated with site maintenance, admin and promotion etc

Q. How often would I need to be open?

 A. It’s entirely up to you when and how often you are open – there’s no minimum commitment but obviously if you were only planning to be open one day a year, this would be taken into account at the application stage.

Q. What if I want to go away or need to change my opening times at short notice?

As a Host you have secure access to your own portal, so you can easily manage opening days/times, and block off days/times as and when you need to.

Q: My garden is at its best in spring… do I have to be open for the whole year?

A: Of course it’s not mandatory for Hosts to keep their garden open all year round, but we do strongly encourage our Hosts to think about what their garden has to offer at different times of year, and what garden practices/tasks may be of interest to curious and beginner gardeners.

For example, a rose garden might not look great in winter… but there are plenty of people who’d love a lesson on how to prune them. Likewise, there will be people who would love to see how you manage your vegetable garden over winter – what still grows (and what definitely doesn’t), what should they be doing to prepare the soil for spring crops, when and how to start propagating seedlings.

We’ve said it before, but Secret Gardens isn’t just about seeing gardens in their prime, it’s about experiencing first-hand the changes that take place in a garden throughout the year and the work that goes into maintaining a thriving garden. You may even find that you get repeat visitors, across the seasons, as visitors become engaged in, and curious about, your work calendar and seasonal changes.

Q. How long do I have to commit to being a Host?

A. We expect a minimum commitment of twelve months, but either party can opt out at any time if it’s really not working out. 

Q. What are my Health and Safety obligations?

A. To ensure the safety of visitors, Hosts must take all practicable steps to identify any hazards on their property. Once identified the hazards should be eliminated, or if that’s not possible, minimised. The Health and Safety at Work Act requires you to have a Health and Safety Plan in place for garden visits and workshops.

If you have more questions, or would like us to send you a link to our online application form, we’d love to hear from you – [email protected]

Secret Gardens Host Ruth, from Grow Nurture Nourish in Christchurch

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