Friday, May 11, 2012

The American Horticultural Society's Reciprocal Admissions Program

If you enjoy visiting botanical gardens, but are put off by admission fees, consider taking advantage of the American Horticultural Society's Reciprocal Admissions Program. Here's how it works. Purchase a membership card from the AHS or from one of its participating gardens. That membership can allow you entrance, usually free admission or parking, to other participating gardens. You may also enjoy discounts in their gift shops, and other member perks. A printable guide, called the RAPLIST, can be obtained online which informs of the benefits at various member gardens.

Keep in mind, however, that the Reciprocal Admissions Program may not allow free admission to every garden listed in the guide. Furthermore, some gardens listed don't charge admission in the first place. Check out the benefit symbols carefully to make sure you understand. If you're not sure, contact the garden in question.

Travel Advisory: If you are a member of one botanical garden on the RAPLIST and go to visit another, make sure you have your membership card in hand along with a printed copy of the latest RAPLIST. Of the last five botanical gardens we visited, three admission desk attendants didn't know what I was talking about. Though I presented my papers, they had to find someone else to consult. It can be a bit disconcerting. If it happens to you, just be patient and gracious. All in all, it's a fine program that I highly recommend.

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