Open Garden - June 2007

We opened for St. Christopher's Hospice on Sunday 10th June this year and we raised a grand total of £626 including donations. HSBC came up trumps with their £ for £ thing again so our grand total was £1,126 (HSBC's limit is £500 per member of staff p.a.).

In anticipation of the day (and in case of rain on the day itself) I'd been round the garden to take a few photos before we were "invaded" by our guests and I've put them below so you can have a virtual wander round the garden. I've interspersed them with photos from the day - the garden has a totally different feel to it when there's only Jonathon, me and the wildlife compared to when there's a hundred or so folk wandering about.

I also took some photos of the individual plants etc as I never have time on the day. I've scattered them about on this page so you can see what there was to see.

view across lawn
This is one of my favourite views of the garden with all the colour from the foliage. The California Poppies in the foreground were well and truly squashed by the fox cubs who seemed to like them!

Here's a couple of our regular visitors - doesn't the squirrel look cute whereas they're little devils really - always up to some kind of mischief but incredibly intelligent.
silver birch and patio

The weekend before was lovely - sunny and warm so that gave me loads of time to finish the weeding, edge the lawn etc. etc.

At this point the only thing I was really worried about was what the weather would do because the forecast for Sunday was changing on a daily basis.

The day arrived and it was bright, sunny and warm - perfect! We were really busy as you can see from the number of people milling around the entrance.
Jenny had her usual card stall and Gill was the door-keeper and raffle ticket seller. There was also a gift stall and a plant stall so plenty of ways we could take people's money from them.

Down the (newly topped) path and into the garden. The new patio shows all the birds' mess so that needed a jolly good hose down before we opened to the public!

The solar lights don't really provide much light at all - just a glimmer. We're not sure why - perhaps they don't get much sun during the day or perhaps they're just not supposed to get bright.

path down rhs
I'm not sure where the rest of the alliums have disappeared to - we used to have quite a few but only 2 grew this year. We ordered a few more at Chelsea last month so we should have a better show in 2008. The 2 that did grow were very pretty - so intricate despite being so tall.
California Poppies

We knew the wall round the woodland bed would come in handy and these people are making the most of it. It was one place in the garden where you could find some shade.
view past silver bed
The grass immediately around the tree never grows too well, possibly because the tree takes all the moisture. We enlarged the bed around the tree last year and the tulips were lovely earlier in the year. The iris leaves have grown well and we've had a couple of flowers on them. The bed on the right is called the silver bed. We replanted the camellia and a heather into this bed when the landscapers moved them from the patio area but only time will tell whether they've settled in OK - they're not looking too promising at the moment.

We have several bird houses around the garden - one for robins, a few for bluetits and one for sparrows. The bluetits have nested with us for a few years but the other boxes still seem to be too new. Perhaps one day they'll get used.
right hand bed
This is the right hand bed and could well be next year's challenge but it does seem to be coming together pretty well so I might well leave it alone in a major way and just plug the gaps and give it plenty of feed.

It was lovely to see so many of our neighbours and friends and we were very grateful that they'd all come along to help us raise money.
food beds
Now we're at the food beds. Gooseberries, raspberries and rhubarb on the left with one of the raised beds on the right. This bed has strawberries, onions, carrots (those that haven't been dug up by our furry friends), beetroot and leeks. The bed further to right has potatoes, broad beans (black fly problems), french beans, peas (slug problems), courgettes and spinach so quite a good variety this year.
The pond continues to thrive and goodness knows how many fish we have now as they seem to keep on breeding and growing. The wires are in place to try and keep the heron away. It seems to work most of the time although some mornings when we go down, a wire will be snapped and the fish skittish so we can only assume that it's less successful at some times that it needs to be.

We put a couple of seats by the pond in addition to our usual bench. All of them were well used and people seemed to enjoy watching the fish swimming around. The dragonflies came and danced for us all as well - very pretty colours.

The foxgloves have been lovely this year. Some popped up in places where I'm sure I didn't plant them

... whether the wind's helped them self-seed or whether the squirrels have replanted them I'm not sure!
pond bed
This is the bed facing the pond. The rose is a David Austen variety and has settled in well after a couple of years. The marigold is self-seeded from earlier years.

John and May had a good look around. They were 2 of our friends who joined us for a BBQ afterwards - great fun and a nice way to end the day.
big bed
The grass is lovely but self-seeds everywhere. Still, that does give us the chance to pot up the new ones for St. Christopher's and sell them on their plant stall. This foxglove is a good example of "How did it get there?"
big bed from lawn

The St. Christopher's team brought a couple of extra gazebos with them which provided some very welcome shade for the tea/cake stall and one of the tables on the lawn.

small bed

For once, nobody asked me the name of a plant I didn't know. There were plenty of questions about how we keep the pond clear (Clarity from and how we stop the squirrels eating the bird food (we don't apart from a couple of the feeders that they simply can't get into!). This year also brought a lot of questions about the Indian Bean Tree - very popular. I wonder if it's because it stands out more with the new patio design?
looking towards patio
This gives a good view of the new patio area. The little plants in the new gravel bed should soon fill out and the gaps close up a bit but they look quite cute while they're small! Believe it or not there's a seat hidden in the foliage on the right.
gravel bed
This is a closer picture of the new area. We don't know whether the new gravel will blend in with the older stuff in time or whether we'll need to restock etc. The bird bath is well used for both drinking and bathing (the blackbird really prefers the pond for his baths but occasionally he'll use this one).
This is one of the beds I've filled up with bedding for this season pending making longer term plans. We've ordered a few hundred tulips for these lower beds and expect them to arrive sometime in Autumn for planting.
cosmos 1
When the cosmos plugs arrived they were very damaged and only 4 survived. We got our money back so these were effectively free. They are stunted in height but the flowers are still lovely. We've put them in the lower beds in the new patio area along with other bedding. We're hoping there'll be plenty of colour in those beds this year pending our deciding what to do on a more permanent basis.
cosmos 2
This gives you an idea of the different levels of the patio. It was taken the day before we opened in the drizzle! The limestone does look nice when it's been raining but everything seems to look better in the sunshine. At this point, my fingers were tightly crossed for the weather to cheer up a bit before tomorrow afternoon!
view from patio
When the sun's shining and the table's set so we can eat outside, this is the view we enjoy from the patio. The house at the end used to be disguised by conifers but they were severely lopped by our neighbour last Monday. I'm still getting used to the new view but it does make that end of the garden a lot lighter even if it does mean I can no longer pretend we are away from everybody.
spiraea pink
We have a variety of spiraeas around the garden. We love the foliage colour in both Spring and Autumn. The flowers give us an added bonus at this time of year too.
spiraea white
Briar made plenty of friends and said "Hello" to those of us she already knows - she's always a popular visitor!
nigella 3
rose 1

Paul came along and brought some of his family with him to show them what he'd been up to over the weeks he was here doing various jobs - the last one being all the brick work for the patio area.
rose and nigella
The roses have been lovely this year - warm April, wet May seems to suit them well. The nigella is all self-seeded but is so pretty I don't like to pull it out.
nigellaa 4
This little family of pigs is relatively new. Mum pig seems to attract quite a lot of attention from the foxes and she's had to be pinned down to prevent her being knocked over too often. They seem quite happy here and we are hoping that Mandy (Simply Rewired) will be able to make us a sheep family to go with them in due course.

The tea stall went down well as always so much so that we ran out of cake and there as a quick dash down to M&S to restock!
big bed shrubs
rose 2
rose 3
People could chose to go up the steps or back up the ramp then off they went down the side of the garage when it was time to go home.
A final look at the front beds on the way out. The paeonies are really lovely this year - they are such pretty flowers.

A final note to thank everybody for coming along and making a success of the day. We can relax now until we start all over again for next year!

A final request ... if you are in one of the photos on this page and would prefer the photo not to be in the general public domain, please let me know and I'll take it down.

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