Sunday, 28 June 2015

Time to smell the roses ...


The way I am currently feeling reminds me of something, and it has taken me a while to identify what it is ... it is that Post exam feeling, which is a  strange mixture of relief and anti climax. Trouble is, it wasn't my Finals, or my 'A' Levels, but our NGS Open Day which was the cause!


Now, at last, we have free time to relax and smell the roses, but I am really missing that burning focus which propelled me from my bed at an unGodly hour to weed or hoe or stake, to get the garden ready before the gates opened. I can remember that same feeling after all life events which have taken a lot of preparation, and it takes a while to get back to normality. Prior to the big event, all you can think about is how wonderful it will be afterwards, and how great it will feel to do nothing, but the reality is often very different.


We opened last Sunday, 21st June, and had an excellent day, making the best part of £500 with entrance, plants and teas. All proceeds went to Macmillan, Hospice UK and other cancer charities.


So, cakes were eaten, plants were discussed, plants were bought ... and the sun shone! That is a minor miracle in this summer of cold grey skies. The day before was grey and rainy, as was the day after, so we were extremely lucky. We met lots of lovely people, saw many friends and made new ones. People were very kind and many said lovely things about the garden.



We found it very inspirational to be in the company of people who are so passionate about plants and gardening, and it has really fired us up for the future.



Since we opened though, we have worked really hard making changes and improvements - so much for sitting in deck chairs! I have already re-worked part of a bed, and re-planted it, and we have developed the more formal area further, adding more pots and rearranging.




We have another open day in a month, as we open along with lots of other gardens in our village, to raise funds for the church. This gives us time to make  any changes we want to, and to cut back things which have already gone over. It also gives time for me to plan and sow all the biennials for next year. Over the last few years I am becoming more and more reliant upon the colour they bring to the garden.



For 2016, I have chosen to grow foxgloves (Suttons Apricot), sweet williams (Single, mixed), dwarf wallflowers (Scarlet Bedder) and Sweet Rocket.

The biggest success, from seed, this year, for me, has been Suttons 'Apricot' foxgloves and I recommend them wholeheartedly. They are the most amazing soft colour, and make fabulous companions for roses and delphiniums. I will certainly be growing them every year from now on. They were easy to grow, and seem able to cope in varying conditions around the garden.



I also grew Sweet Rocket for the first time this year, but it had nearly finished by the time we opened the garden. In its prime it filled the garden with colour and scent. Again I will grow them again next year, as I have really enjoyed them . I believe they self seed, but I will give them a helping hand, anyway. They really fill the garden out at a time when their presence is much appreciated.


I have grown Sweet Williams again this year, and they are a very useful thing to grow, with their stabs of dark, jewel-like colour, and amazing scent. They are just coming into their own now, and are a very easy, cost effective way to introduce more colour into the garden.






Meanwhile, back in NGS land, we have already had the discussion! Are we going to do it again next year or not ? The Exotic Gardener is up for it, and would open again in an instant. I am not convinced.


I think it would be good to have at least a year off to relax and enjoy the garden without having to worry about how it is looking. We can make big changes and experiment with things.We have reached an impasse at the moment and I think we need lots more discussions over lots more cold beers, drunk from deck chairs in the sun ...






















32 comments:

  1. Your garden is looking fabulous Jane and well done on your open day!

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  2. It's such a lovely place to visit even from a laptop, Jane! Congratulations to both of you on doing it all so well! I see why you are so pleased with those foxgloves - they look fantastic. And if I may ask, what is the dark, purple-red rose hedge along the lawn?

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    1. Hi Amy, thank you for your kind comments.
      The rose is an Old Rose 'Charles de Mills' the most exquisite of roses. I bought them as bare roots and planted them as a hedge a couple of years ago.

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  3. I'm so glad it was a success!!! Your garden is stunning all the way around!! My goodness! And how fantastic that the proceeds go to help others!!! Beauty for all!! Your foxgloves up there are extraordinary!! Happy days to you! Nicole

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    1. Hi thanks Nicole! I can highly recommend Suttons Apricot as they are truly gorgeous!

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  4. Dear Jane, your garden looks absolutely amazing! That must have been an awful lot of work to get it to that level of perfection, but I sure hope you and your husband enjoyed the ride. I love that light apricot colored foxglove that you are recommending. It is a very lovely variety that goes so well with the light colored rose that you have it combined with. May I ask what variety the rose is? It reminds me of 'Cymbaline' an older David Austin rose, but it is unlikely that it is that rose.
    I am curious what you decide in the end if you are taking part next year in the NGS or not. I can completely understand that you want to take a break and just enjoy the garden for yourself without having the pressure to open it to the public on the other hand that must be a lot of fun and very rewarding, too.
    Wishing you a nice week!
    Christina

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    1. Hi Christina and thanks for your kind comments. The rose is a David Austin and it is 'Gentle Hermione', a glorious rose and covered in big beautiful flowers at the moment.

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  5. Congratulations on the amount raised, Jane. The garden looks wonderful and is a good example of a garden that opens for the NGS, plenty of places to sit. More gardeners seem to be growing biennials again, sweet rocket is one of my favourites, I grew the white one for the first time this year.

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    1. Hi Brian, I agree about the biennials, they did seem to fall out of favour for a while, goodness knws why. How did your Sweet Rocket perform ? Were you pleased with it ? I have just sown another packet of seed for next year.

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  6. Great work, Jane! The Apricot foxgloves are indeed fabulous against that English rose (Heritage?).

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    1. Ooh good guess Professor, very close ... Gentle Hermione. Another David Austin.

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  7. Great to hear that it was a success! It looks fantastic.

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  8. Hi Jane, Thank you for the tour! Every nook and corner of your garden is wonderful......I'm sure everyone had a wonderful time being in it. Your Foxglove is beautiful.....I'm not one for the color peach but, these are so soft and they're growing beautifully. I am a lover of Sweet William....They bring back childhood memories of a little flowerbed I had. There's a bit of it in my gardens but I need to grow some more. They make great fillers. Happy Gardening!

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    1. Hi FF, I know what you mean about peach ! I usually hate it, but this one is much more of a pink that it is as you say very soft. I think Sweet Williams are very evocative plants and bring back memories with just one inhalation of their scent !
      Thanks for your kind comments !

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  9. Congrats, your event running smoothly and reached your wish. I'm so impressed, your garden and those flowers look so fabulous. Really enjoy watching your beautiful roses...

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    1. Hi Normal and thank you. The roses are really late this year and some of them are not even now in bloom. It is my favourite time of the whole year when they are at their best!

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  10. Well done! I can imagine the anxiety before opening day. I think opening on alternate years is generous enough. I love the way the English have cake at everything, so civilised.

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    1. Ha ha Susan, we eat cake at the drop of a hat! It goes so well with the 'nice cups of tea' we are always drinking !

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  11. Hi Jane. I love this post. Your garden is amazing - like a dream. My favourite picture is the gate with the garden and deckchair in the background. I would love to walk through there. The apricot foxglove is beautiful. Never seen that before. Lovely. Well done on your fundraising and hope the village church days go just as well for you.

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    1. Hi Ali and thank you for your comments.You are too kind! I am just heading for that very deckchair now!!

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  12. Your garden is looking absolutely wonderful, I'm sure all your visitors really enjoyed visiting! Good for you, raising so much money for such worthwhile causes. I know all the work that you must have put in, we opened for 5 years a while ago and I remember how tired I a;ways felt afterwards, tired but glad we had done it. You can sit back now and enjoy your garden, all the work has been done!

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    1. Hi Paulien and thank you for your comments. Five years must have taken its toll! I know someone who opened 'by appointment only' for the NGS and that sounded harder than anything else, as the garden had to be 'match fit' at all times. At least we only had to peak once ! Are you tempted to do it again ? The day itself is so enjoyable but the work is prodigious !!

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  13. Well done. I can't even imagine getting to the stage where I could open the garden to scrutiny but I'm sure I'll get there one day. I'm toying with biennials. It always seemed like a lot of faffing about, but having seen the difference they make to the garden I really need to try. And hopefully the plants will be strong enough when I put them out to resist all my many nibblers.

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    1. Happy toying Jessica ! I have only started this last few years and I do enjoy it, as it seems much gentler than the mad spring queues for the propagator! Much less frenzied and very rewarding . It has been my first season for Sweet Rocket and that has been amazing. I have vowed to grow it every year.

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  14. Well done, you clearly had a very successful open day, your lucky visitors must have enjoyed themselves. Your garden looks stunning. I have Gentle Hermione too, it is always so healthy and full of flowers. I think I spotted Digitalis Pink Illumination too which is a real head turner. I love foxgloves and Sutton's Apricot is a beauty.

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    1. Chloris , you have sharp eyes !! There are two in that bed - 'Pink' and 'Raspberry'. I love 'Raspberry' as it is a deep shade of ... well ... raspberry!! I was distinctly underwhelmed the first season I grew them as they were very slow to establish but I am a total convert now, and they some of my current favourites in the garden. Do you know if there is any way to propagate them as I know that they are sterile?

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    2. This is my first year so I hope they are truly perennial. I suppose they have to be propagated with root cuttings but I am not brave enough to start chopping them up yet.

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  15. I can imagine the mixed feelings and emotions you must experience in the run up to your event and how then our minds and bodies react when it's finally passed. It must take it's toll. I'm sure what ever decision you come to, it will be the right one for you both.
    Your garden is looking amazing and no wonder your day was a success, I could not imagine anyone feeling disappointed after a visit there Jane.

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  16. I'm far behind with commenting on blogposts this moment but now I'm here and I have to say your garden looks gorgeous. So nice you had so many people visiting your garden for the NGS. When we visited England in former years we also tried to visit gardens open for the NGS, I like the private gardens, the teas and the chat.
    I understand you do not yet know to be open next year. It is a lot of pression to get it all spic-and-span for the day. Anyway now you can relax in your garden, over here it is very hot and I suppose on your side of the sea it's the same.
    Wish you a lovely new gardening week!

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  17. Absolutly gorgeous Jane.
    Have a wonderful week ahead.

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I really welcome comments and have learned much from them, over the years of leaning over the virtual garden gate ...