Open Garden - July 2005

There is a separate page with pictures of the garden throughout the year - please click here to look at those pictures

We opened our garden (for the first time ever) for St. Christopher's Hospice. The team were brilliant. They arrived with home made cakes, crockery, stalls etc. and plenty of volunteers and left our house as clean and tidy as when they arrived. They raised £291.60 on the day which seems pretty good to us but we have nothing to compare it to. St. Christopher's must have been quite pleased though as they've asked us to open again next year!
We had about 100 visitors through the garden on the day. They entered the garden down the side of the garage so all they could see to start with was a pyracantha bush! The passage way was lovely and cool on such a hot day.
A quick look to the left and you see the clematis and winter jasmine in pots with the water butts nearby (almost empty at the moment as we're sadly lacking rain).

Turning to face the garden, across our (very uneven) patio and the seats are already for you to sit on for your tea and cake. A few people asked us which way round was "right" - answer - whichever way you want to go!

The silver bed has lots of verbena bonariensis floating about in it to balance out the solidity of the hydrangea and the eucalyptus tree. Wherever you look in the garden, there'll be some lavender not far away.
The right hand side bed has the statuesque acanthus and the buddleia bush - this year we have been so lucky with the butterflies - all colours and sizes have been visiting us. This bed was supposed to have cornflowers in but it's been too dry for them to grow so they're only very small!
A quick glance behind and you can see the silver birch and what we call the woodland garden. You can see from the light in the photo how strong the sun was!
Back on the path and wander a bit further. The tree on the left that I didn't know the name of is a Judas Tree (cercis siliquastrum) - thanks to Yvonne for helping out with that! As you can see, more lavender which brushes your legs as you walk past and smells delicious.
At the end of the garden we have a small "food" area where we grow a few veg and the odd bit of fruit. This year everything seems to be doing very well. We've had our first courgettes and carrots and plenty of potatoes and peas (not to mention strawberries, rasps and gooseberries!)

Next to the food garden is the pond. The cooling sound of the water was very welcome with the sun beating down. One visitor asked me if it was a garden or a fish farm (we think there are about 150 goldfish in the pond but they never stay still long enough to be counted!)

The fountain attracted quite a lot of comment - it's made of copper and brass and Pete Wheeler was the man who created it based on a design by Shirley.

The wires are a heron deterrent.

Up 3 steps from the pond and looking back across the garden to the house. The larger trees give a good feeling of permanence (not to mention provide some welcome shade!)
Again, a backward glance and the pampas provides the green on one side of the path with spiraea, loosestrife and a small fir tree on the other - this is a lovely little path to walk through.

Back on track and a glance to the right gives a good bird's-eye view of the pond

The grow bags are full of tomato plants. They usually live nearer the shed but we had problems in the new strawberry bed and had to dig the plants out so they're there instead this year.

Follow the curve around past a couple of roses, the smoke bush and a couple of acers - we're now on our way back to the house.
Again, looking back, you can see the veg frames (we net them until the plants get established or we don't get any food!)
The yarrow steals the show on this side of the garden and the robinia tree looks lovely with the light shining through it.
This seat was very well used during the course of the afternoon - a lovely cool spot where you can see everything that's going on!
Looking across to the house across the gravel bed (aka the Mediterranean bed), there are usually loads of birds around in the garden but many of them stayed away when the visitors arrived. Within minutes of everybody going home they were back - cake crumbs for tea as a special treat!!
A bit closer in and you can begin to see yet more lavender (which has now surrounded the base of the Indian Bean tree) and the geraniums we have in tubs and pots around the edge of the patio.
The cakes and tea/coffee etc. were served from our big wooden table just outside the back door. As you can imagine, there was lots of pedestrian traffic in this area.
The petunias are lovely this year - both in the pots and in the beds.
This gives you a better idea of the flame red colour of the geraniums that brighten up the patio
There are 3 "urns" on the patio that we fill up with colour every year. 2 of them mark the edge of the steps down to the main part of the garden.
The views around the lawn were somewhat disguised with the chairs, tables and general activity so we took a few pictures when no-one was around.
I love foliage (apparently it's a sign of middle-age!!) but there's nothing better than lots of different colours and textures all working together and it's not half as much trouble as bedding!
Having said that, the nicotania is thriving this year and it's so pretty so there's probably room for both!
Mix up bedding and shrubs with majestic trees and it's a magical combination. We are so lucky to have the space to include all different shapes and sizes of plants.
One last look at the peace and quiet before the visitors arrive - this is the view from my bedroom - it's lovely to see first thing in the morning.
It was interesting (but not surprising) that everyone sought out shade while they drank their tea/coffee and ate the yummy home-made cakes the St Christoper's team had brought.
Most of the people who came we hadn't met before but lots of them came up to say hello. Thankfully the technical questions about the pond filtration system etc. were addressed to Jonathon rather than me!
This man looks like he's wandering in a jungle! How sensible to wear a hat on such a hot day.
Some other sensible people brought umbrellas to use as parasols and create their own shade.
In general, there was plenty of socialising going on - ie. lots of chatting.

Finally, everybody went home, all the clearing up was done and we were back to normal!

We had a really good day - it was lovely to share our garden and we hope to do it all again next May!

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