Tuesday, 30 August 2011

Sunday here we come!

Well the time for our NGS opening has finally arrived...The garden has been painstaking weeded, the terrace has been power washed and all the niggly little things that we had been planning on doing for ages have been done. I am now praying to the Sun God for good weather and a few hot days to bring out some more flowers. At the weekend the parentals were unstoppable, with my Dad being great at doing some major bits that need doing....his arrangement of the architectural fragments of the ‘Roman’ temple are inspired as I was wondering what to do with a pile of old rocks...
Before I forget some practicalities and an advert to visit our local area! Come and visit!
The NGS says:  ‘A garden to surprise and delight with a pond, sunken terrace  and bold, big leafed planting of exotics that reach for the sky in late summer, achieving  a crescendo of colour with  dark dahlias, ricinus, bananas and tetrapanax . New interest this year from a huge secret garden with more jungle plants, developing potager and cutting garden. Plantsman’s garden with lots of interesting and unusual hardy exotics and a greenhouse with carnivorous plants only for the brave to investigate.’

Come and have a nosy! come eat cake!
Money raised from the door (£2.50 to get in, kids free) and from cake sales go to the many NGS charities including Macmillan, Marie Curie and Help the Hospices.
Don’t be put off by rain! in a worst case scenario we will be covering our terrace to make a rain proof area to laze on our outdoor sofas and chairs eating lots of cake. Our house is at 24 Grove Park, SE5 8LH numbering on our road is odd, but we are at the Chadwick Road end. Nearest rail stations are Peckham Rye or Denmark Hill

Come visit Camberwell and Peckham
We are lucky to live between Camberwell and Peckham and both have some great places to eat lunch if you wanted to eat locally as part of your visit. A few of our nicest local places:
Ganapati: one of our favourite restaurants (in all of London!) South Indian 10 mins from the house
Victoria Inn: also 10 mins away on Bellenden Road, good Sunday lunch
Crooked Well: new gastro pub in Camberwell Green just had a good review in the Observer
Angels and Gypsies: ‘Camberwell’s destination restaurant’ tapas, nice for a swish meal. Camberwell Green
Franks Cafe: uber trendy pop up cafe/restaurant/bar on the top of a multi-storey car park in Peckham.  Amazing views, interesting art and great place to go which is part of the Peckham art scene. Central Peckham near the station
South London Gallery: great restaurant and space. Very yummy. on main road between Peckham and Camberwell
There are of course loads more places, especially in Camberwell Green, Lordship Lane and a few on Bellenden Road....
I hope that if you come you have a nice visit, and do say hello! also don’t be put off from the front garden which has suffered from the recent building work and appalling soil....the main focus is the back garden which is very very different. I don’t know if gardeners are ever completely happy with their creations as there is always more to do but I am very happy how things have turned out as it is looking very special at the mo and friends have been saying the right things, come see for yourself!
It’s so odd that the day has almost come, as we applied to go in the Yellow Book 14? Months ago, and it has been such a focus of the year. On Sunday we went to see 2 local gardens in Brixton and Wandsworth as a) they sounded great and b) to do a final reccy to see how the openings were functioning (one made 13 cakes, had 130 visitors...paper plates with forks..(note to self: must buy paper plates and forks)
I was particularly pleased to be able to visit Victoria’s garden which was just as an NGS garden should be. It was very established with some great mature plants and was very well thought out and full of interesting things. I was very jealous of its maturity both in terms of having established clumps of things, and also the time to learn about what grows best where...having a young garden I have a lot to learn! The cake was also perfect with lots of seats to ponder the beautiful surrounds. Do visit her blog as she writes very well, and was lovely to meet.
We also met a lovely couple from New Malden who had just been accepted into the NGS and as such were scoping out all the gardens they could to help plan for their June opening. It was great to see people who were just like we were last year and going through the same stages of panic.
Stage 1: Assessment nerves
Stage 2: Is my garden good enough? I need to completely re-design it immediately
Stage 3: I need more plants, now!
Stage 4: That NGS garden was so much better than mine, I need to do so much more
Stage 5: That NGS garden was so much worse than mine, this will be a piece of cake
Stage 6: Cake?! How much to make, should I make 10 or 20 cakes? how many people will come?
Stage 7: Will anyone come?
Stage 8: Blimey I have a hole there, X will be past its best, can everything just grow please, what happens if it rains, how did those weeds get there?!
Obviously this is the stage I’m now at, and there could be a whole lot more stages before Sunday so I will keep you posted! I will also buy myself more Camomile tea and try not to develop a drinking problem
Finally a big thank you to people who have helped and who have offered to make cakes and help on the day. Stevens parents are coming down to help look after the door, Leslie who is a very clever volunteer Kew tour guide will be helping in the garden and perhaps running mini tours, and Hannah who has been testing cake recipes will be helping in the kitchen with Tim, Mum and Steven.


  1. The weather looks promising Clive :) I'm sure everything will go fine and visitors will enjoy your lovely garden. Good luck and have fun!

  2. Thank you for saying such nice things about my garden - I'm blushing! I'm really looking forward to seeing yours.
    Re cakes: we've found that carrot cake goes well, as does coffee and walnut. We've never had much success with chocolate. Maybe it's my cooking!
    I'd aim for 12 cakes (that's roughly 120 people). You can always give them to friends/family/colleagues if no one turns up - believe me, they won't go to waste! And if you run out - well, that means you'll have loads of people, which is great!

  3. I'm sure you'll have a ball. It's such a worthwhile thing to do. The only problem is how to get your swollen head through the door after all the compliments!

  4. Thanks! interesting about chocolate cake...V your lemon one was lovely!

    I think the hardest thing about cake is as we have 6-7 people bringing them that I will want to try them all

    I made the mistake of looking at the 5 day forecast today (it looks fine for Sun) that is bound to have jinxed it. ug!

  5. loved the garden (especially the wealth of dahlias) - and wondering how you keep it so unslug-damaged. Next time you walk down Camberwell grove have a look out for our front garden - I've planted up a roll-top bath...

  6. We had a fantastic afternoon today Clive. Such beautiful and interesting plants, and some great features. I especially loved the artistic feature made out of objects dug out of the ground. And the cakes were fab too. Well done