Well, here we are.
It’s the day after the one before.
Actually, it’s the day after the one before the one before because numpty-me didn’t get round to posting this the day before.
The day before (the day before) being when we had our first, ever, NGS Open Day with a local Gardening group coming as the first, ever group to see the garden beyond friends, neighbours and family.
I needn’t have panicked, it went very well, from the initial introductory talk to the garden to the cakes, it was all well received and I’ve a guestbook with some very glowing comments to prove it. The volunteer help I had on the day were fantastic, ensuring visitors’ safety on dodgy steps and serving drinks and cakes a-plenty, as well as staying on afterwards to help clear up after the final visitors left.
Could we have been better organised? Perhaps
Could I have done a bit more in the garden to make it look better? Probably
Could there have been a more efficient way to lay out the drinks and cakes and table arrangements? Maybe
Does any of it matter?
Did I manage to get any “action shots” of the garden mid-visit with people milling around and enjoying food on the terrace? Of course not, but thankfully, the group organiser was better organised than I, and took some. I would have loved to have analytics into which parts of the garden were most popular, which were not really visited, which were explored, which plants were appreciated most, which route did people take. Did they spot the plant labels, the watchful hare, the three monkeys, the fact that the Armillary Sphere is facing backwards? Which benches and bistro sets were the most popular? Which one did they think had the best views? and so on.
In the end, if everyone seemed to have a great time, great cake and didn’t leave in the first 30 minutes, does it even matter?
I think that’s what I’m trying to convince myself of the next time we have one of these (in three weeks for those counting).
It didn’t matter that not all the pots were planted, that the bedding was three weeks behind, that there is still a large gap in the main border where there should be a stand of Crocosmia, that I hadn’t pruned all the roses back.
In the short introductory talk I gave about the garden, I said that I tried to make it in the Romantic Style, which affords a certain looseness and flexibility when it comes to ensuring garden jobs are done when they should be. I said that a Romantic garden – above all – is about atmosphere, perhaps a sense of faded past and neglect coming from overflowing borders. A few rough edges shouldn’t spoil that, it might even enhance it. The garden has enough plants, interest and atmosphere to support a rose that might still have its hips from last year, or a gap in the border where something hadn’t survived.
Being gardeners, they could also sympathise with the fact that the statement phormium is most likely dead, because theirs is the same. They also understood why the patio bedding plants weren’t brimming with flowers – because theirs were just seedlings as well.
In the end, the evidence is in the comments written in the guestbook, the few crumbs left behind when 26 people have 36 slices of cake, the continual stream of questions about pristine hostas, scented roses, the quirky compost heap. It’s in the round of applause from the group and most tellingly, in the much-relieved face of the trip organiser, who saw the garden as it was in mid April, when the patio had no pots and wasn’t washed, when the borders weren’t edged and hadn’t had their full winter clean up, when we had yet to assemble the Armillary and screen off the compost heap.
She had a combination of confidence and blind faith that in just four weeks (much of which was wet), the garden would go from an embarrassment to a jewel worth visiting.
She put her reputation on it.
I should learn from that.