This week we received the National Gardens Scheme fabled ‘golden trowel’ which is given to people who have opened their garden for 10 years. We now need to do another 10 to get the matching fork….
|Me with the engraved trowel which has now been mounted on a plaque!
We wanted our 10th opening to be memorable, and
we got what we wanted with it being in the middle of the pandemic! The timed
entry and longer hours actually made it one of our best ever openings as
everyone was just so happy to be able to be out, eat cake and buy plants!
In total we have now made over £16,000 for NGS charities,
and had over 2200 visitors. Our open day has turned into one of the big
highlights of the year. It is a great way to bring people together, and very
easy to make money for charity. I am very lucky that so many people want to
help out, from my parents who do so much, to those who help on the day with the
refreshments and plant sales.
It was kind of an accident that we agreed to open the garden.
The NGS had always been on my radar as, but it was not something for the immediate
future. It only happened when my neighbour, who was opening for NGS, mentioned
to the formidable NGS volunteer who was visiting him that I may be interested in
opening that I received an on-the-spot visit and inspection and acceptance! At
that time the garden was fairly embryonic and we hadn’t any idea that we would be
buying the derelict land adjacent to our garden within 6 months. This make a smallish
job into one that was bigger than we had possibly imagined!
The terror of preparing for our NGS opening along with the
huge task of clearing the land and creating a garden was what led to this blog.
I also volunteer with the NGS helping to look after other garden
openers in my area. Working full time, and with a garden that is a very demanding
mistress has been a challenge, and I know I have not had as much time for this
as I would have hoped. However, this role and opening the garden has given me a
great insight into the NGS world and I have met some marvellous people and friends.
The gardening world is full of good eggs! There are also lots of random things
that have happened as a result of ‘being in the book’ such as filming Gardeners
World with Carol Klein, The Instant Gardener, magazines and even some random artists
using the garden for a photoshoot.
Don’t get me wrong, opening is still a stress…as it draws
closer so does the frenzied weeding and watering, often late into the evening.
But, every year it is easier and I now don’t wake up in the night in a sweat
about how much to charge for tea and cake and how acceptable Styrofoam cups are.
I have also come to accept a certain element of que sera as you can’t control the
weather, and some years plants are early/late or eaten by slugs!
The opening days themselves have always been a lot of fun….it
has become a ritual for all our helpers to have lunch on the lawn before we
open and put bets on how many people would come. Afterwards, when the doors are
shut we then open the wine and see who was right…
Every year we are always amazed at how many people come, and
it is lovely to see how many people come back. In a way it is a bit like a
party! I love it!
So, thank you to everyone who has come, and everyone who is
part of the NGS and makes it the great thing it is. For those of you with great
gardens and who are vaguely thinking about opening get in touch and do it!!