Monday, 3 September 2012

The garden opening: plants at their NGS best, success and fabulousness

Hurrah for a successful garden opening! We had 189 visitors and raised about £930 which is way beyond what we were expecting!

Look at all these people! they arent even a rent a crowd!
One day on and I’m still feeling frazzled as it was a lot to do, and I’m worn out from running around tweaking and talking plants with so many lovely people. The great thing about opening for NGS is that it is a prompt to do all the little things you have been meaning to do for age like finally planting those impulse buys, cleaning the windows or erecting flag I have been running around for a few weeks trying to get things ship shape. Compared to last year Steven was also really calm, however this only lasted until about Friday when he suddenly started marathon cake making sessions

'What do you want?! keep away Im baking!'
On the day its self we were up early looking at the sky wondering if it was going to rain....having been tracking 4 different weather websites over the last week in an OCD way I was still none the wiser (BBC said rain in the morning then fine, Met said rain, then drizzle). A lot of shrugging of shoulders followed with a decision not to put up the emergency tarpaulin. I garden tweaked further, Steven made more cakes, and upstairs made a good lunch. The bets as to how many people would come this year varied greatly from 80 to 200....last year we had 135 but this year we thought it wouldn’t be as popular as it was the second year opening, and a lot of friends were away..however the weather was looking better and people may want to follow in Carol Klein’s footsteps...

By 1:50 there still seemed a lot to do, and a worried front of house reported that people were already there queuing! This was rather different from last year when rain kept people away till 2:20.. and gave me a warm, ooh people really want to come and see my garden moment (probably warmer from the wine) however there was still lots to do and 10 minutes of blowing up balloons and finding NGS posters ensued.
More and more people came, and by half past the garden was looking full....I had roped in Peter to help with plant talk as he is very clever and can blag easily, and Charlie was on hand to show people the bees as the wonderful Sharon had leant us a perspex top to put on top of the hives and even mini bee keeping hoods. People were really interested in all of it and I was amazed at how long people stayed for.

There were friends, lots of new people, other garden openers and lots of people coming back for the second year which was nice and people were very complimentary. All could see the huge differences and were surprised at how much it had changed. Several people thought me a garden designer (yes flattery will indeed get you everywhere) and one lady who was bought up in Malaysia said it reminded her of home and a holiday she had been on to Bali. Result!

The top plants people asked about were the Paulownias and the Kangaroo apple, then followed by the Amicia  Zygomeris and the Salvia involucrate bethelii.

So lots of pictures of the garden at its NGS best

A surprise feature was 'fairy mushroom corner' as over the last 2 days loads of mushrooms have appeared from the wood chip which was fresh this year!

Walking from the mushrooms...lots of Daturas with tall screening from Jerusalem artichokes

My Garuda on a post underplanted with 7 Tetrapanax and dark almost black Phormiums which Im all waiting grow big and tall

The far corner with new Paulownias bedding in....Im so pleased with all this as this was newly cleared this year. Last year we just covered the ground with weedproof membrane and grew pumpkins!

This is the pond we found now looking rather lush!

View of the Jubilee pavilion though bamboos, Paulownia, Dahlia imperialis and Indocalamus

Can I just ask what that tall plant at the end is?

So lots of things werent as big/good as they should have been, particularly the Ricinus or the 7 Cannas that arent yet flowering, however some things like this Hedychium were late! 

Thalia dealbata (with a red stem thalia at the side) all delightfully tall and imposing

This Rudbeckia was the other winner as loads of peple were talking about it

Everyones fabourite salvia!
I had a wonderful afternoon chatting to people, apologies for any babbling I did but by 3 I was already feeling a little fried. I was also being grabbed all over by people wanting to know about plants or say hello so sorry if I disappeared, it would have been lovely to have more time!

The odd thing was also meeting people who read this blog (hello!) as I kind of forget there is a world out there as this started as something to keep me focused and track developments. I am glad people read it and enjoy it.

A particular hurrah must also go out to the Lincolnshire gang of 4 who came down to see things, especially as they managed to return from Dulwich village after my directions.
 So thank you to everyone who came, you helped us raise loads of money which will go to support lots of different charities. A huge thank you to everyone who helped on the day from the in-laws who came down from Lincolnshire to do the door, to Peter and Charlie, Tim,  my hard labouring parents  and Steven the champion cake maker. Also big thanks to Hannah, Emelda and Kate who all came to look at pretty plants but were roped into doing washing up!

Finally a big thank you to everyone who has helped with the garden over the last year from people who have given me plants, to those who have helped weed, dig, plant or pot things up or been made to assemble summer houses which are far too heavy. It has been a huge project to do and without help it wouldn’t have happed. There is still lots to come, but now the ground has been dug and the structure put in it should (nervous laugh) be plain sailing from now on. I look forward to a lack of heavy digging, lots of tweaking, plants getting bigger and being able to share more plants. Hurrah!

  Thank you!
Ian ventured from the front desk to tell us we have got over 150 people!


  1. The garden is looking fantastic Clive! And glad to know that your open day was a success! Hopefully next year we'll make it :) Enjoy the rest of the season, you can relax now!

  2. Superb! I am having terrible plant envy - and also creating a shopping list for you for all the stuff I havent got room for and that you don't yet have! What about Melianthus? and Romneya, the tree poppy? xx

  3. Thanks you for coming and saying all the right things! I do have a sulking Melianthus but am happy to take refugees :), Romneya would be fabulous as thats on the list. thank you!!

    Relaxing would be nice! Im trying and lasted until 5pm yesterday before pulling up a couple of weeds and dead heading...

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    2. ...oops I mean that I dont have myself either! however I am planning to get a Romneya to replace the Tithonia - and I gather that it is rampant...x

  4. Wonderful--wish I could have been there too!

  5. Fantastic, fantastic,fantastic... Everything looks wonderful. Can you come over here now and do some weeding for me as you are in relaxation mode:)Pictures are fun. Congratulations to everyone on pulling off the grand day in style and so many people. Great job on the charity money. Looks like weather held...yeah. Looking forward to more posts on next years endeavors.

  6. amazing brilliant...what happens to all this tropical stuff in the winter???

  7. Thanks! it is rather nice to bask in how good it all is at the moment however winter is looming which means a combination of digging things up, protection and collecting seed.... there is more of this in an older post I did