Garden tourism is a type of niche tourism involving visits or travel to botanical gardens and places which are significant in the history of gardening. Garden tourists often travel individually in countries with which they are familiar but often prefer to join organized garden tours in countries where they might experience difficulties with language, travel or finding accommodation in the vicinity of the garden. In the year 2000 the Alhambra and the Taj Mahal both received over two million visitors. This poses problems for the landscape manager.
The list of famous gardens which attract garden tourists from afar includes:
Despite its popularity, garden tourism remains a niche commercial enterprise. Throughout the world, there are a limited number of boutique tour operators offering guided tours to the public.
Initially, the garden tour in England and Wales involves private gardens and gardens that does not accept visitors regularly under the National Gardens Scheme, when "Gardens of England and Wales Open for Charity" (the 'Yellow Book') served as a guide book for those seeking to visit gardens in England and Wales. The first issue of the Yellow Book was published as a supplement to a British magazine "Country Life" in 1931, after Elsie Wagg of an institution serving for district nursing came up with the basic idea of National Gardens Scheme, in which a charity and garden tour was combined when gardening was quite popular in the UK.
The movement to open gardens for charity spread to private gardens when it was announced in 1927, and owners of such gardens agreed to collect 1 Shiring fee from each visitors that they donated to the charity. 609 such gardens raised £8,000 and in 1928 the institution renames to The Queen's Institute of District Nursing ("The Queen's Nursing Institute" of later day). With the publication of the first Yellow Book, there were 1,000 gardens to participate in the Scheme, and in 2015 they have donated £4.5 million since 1927. Those owners of private gardens sometimes donated to those charities they choose, amounting to £40,000.
As the garden tour expanded since 1948 when the National Gardens Scheme involved the National Trust: while National Trust offered important gardens for garden tours which they have restored and conserved, and number of visitors increased. The Queen's Institute of District Nursing offered them funds which in turn encouraged the Trust to work on additional garden projects. It was in 2013 when the Yellow Page was officially renamed as "Gardens To Visit".
Michel de Montaigne was one of the earliest garden tourists to record his impressions of gardens (c1580).[a] John Evelyn also recorded his visits to gardens in France and Italy, as did Fynes Moryson.[b] Maggie Campbell-Culver wrote a biography of John Evelyn as she sourced from woods and gardens Evelyn took steps in, and described trees from oak as an Evelyn's symbol to evergreens he favored the most.
At the start of the 21st century, with a history of over 100 years of garden tours, Britain had the largest number of gardens open to the public for tourist visits: in 2013, 3,700 gardens are listed in Gardens of England and Wales Open for Charity, when the Yellow 3,500 gardens are listed in Gardens of England and Wales Open for Charity.