I learned to garden by visiting other people’s private gardens… And, while I do love being handed a cool cocktail and welcomed properly through the front gate, I’ve also come to see my fair share through the brambles and peep holes ‘round back.

Let’s say I’m here, and the garden I want to see is over there. Truth be told there’s no stopping me. Electrified gates, jagged fences, No trespassing signs, snarling dogs, menacing moats and other prohibitive barriers are all just pain-in-the-butt nuisances to my garden hopping exploits. On the cusp of this brand new gardening season, I’m drunk with the thought of all the gardens beyond…Actually, I’ve been thinking of little else over this ridiculously frigid and dragged-out winter. I’ve also been thinking: Does the forbidden nature of one garden make it somehow more tempting and alluring than the ease and accessibility of another? Is there truth to the proverbial forbidden fruit theorem? Is it more fun being slightly naughty? I say yes to all three and have come to learn that many others feel the same way.

Worth it: This garden took some sleuthing behind a gated driveway in Carmel, CA

Clapping my hands together calling, “ here kitty, kitty, kitty,” is my go to “cover” in case I’m found out. “Ah, seriously officer, my cat Jinxie (hat tip to Meet the Parents) is lost, lost I say!” I rehearse this line in my head just in case I’m ever caught, which as of this posting I have not been. But, I’ve come dangerously close. And I don’t slum. We’re talking Palm Beach, Lake Forest, Carmel, and Newport—fancy-pants places all over America with incredible private gardens just begging to be ogled. Like they say, gotta go where the going is good—or something along those lines… The key to effective garden hopping is to be armed with two things: a sturdy milk crate and ample amounts of chutzpa. At present, the milk crate rattles around in the back of my car poised for those times when I just have to pull over and sneak a quick peek above an imposing fence. It’s a trick I’ve learned from other GardenFreaks who, like me, get a rush seeing beautiful gardens the hard way.

The key to effective garden hopping is to be armed with two things: a sturdy milk crate and ample amounts of chutzpa.

Like this little old sign could actually keep me from checking out the tempting garden beyond.

My friend Ann confesses to driveway swoops…”especially those round driveways that bring you up close and give you a better view.” And one of my all-time favorite stories was when I learned from a friend that a very proper and unassuming older gal had scoped out my garden using the milk crate method. I was flattered and glad to learn this is a sport you can play at any age. Who knows, it might even keep you young!

A not-so-hidden statue garden featuring Marilyn Monroe discovered on a “walk” in Palm Beach, FL.

So what if we steal glimpses of other people’s gardens– it’s not like we’re really hurting anyone–right? In my book, it’s the very definition of a victimless crime. We’re a quirky but calculating lot of horticultural voyeurs: the equivalent of people who flip through magazines in check out lines, or others who go out of their way to catch a “free” whiff of someone else’s delicious perfume. We’re proud members of a kinky Mile High Club for GardenFreaks! The only difference is we “score big” here on earth.

Photo credit: Google images

Question: Do you like to carry your own welcome mat when it comes to visiting forbidden gardens?

If so, join the GardenFreak! Mile High Club and share your tales of garden marauding. I’d love to hear your adventures. Email me and don’t you dare leave anything out!