The Garden will open on September 19th and 20th. Advance booking only.

This is a short blog post to let everyone know that we’re opening our garden for the weekend of September 19-20th, 2020. Because of Covid-19 restrictions, the National Gardens Scheme are only allowing visitors who book in advance. Everything seems to be constantly changing, including the NGS website, which is currently introducing improvements. I’m told these will make it easier to book in. Visitors will be admitted in hourly slots which can only be reserved through the NGS website. Download your booking to your phone, or do a printout as you’ll need to provide proof when you arrive. But in common with other larger gardens, we aren’t insisting on an exit time. In other words, your hourly slot only applies to your arrival time. The garden will close at 4.30. Sadly, the insurers behind the NGS are insisting that we cannot provide tea or non-emergency toilets, but we are planning to offer visitors home-made cake and there will also be a plant stall. For reasons of hygiene, we cannot offer change, but don’t worry: everything you give will go to the medical charities supported by the NGS – and their finances have taken a big hit thanks to the pandemic. So feel free to throw money at us! Oh, and one other innovation: we’ve introduced a picnic area, next to the vegetable garden. It’s a very sheltered small paddock, surrounded on all sides by hedges and a tall stand of black poplars. We haven’t allowed any sheep in it for a month, so you shouldn’t have to contend with wet sheep poo! Gentlemen might choose to visit some of the larger trees in the wood from time to time…

It has been a very challenging year in the garden. Last winter was very, very wet and the damage it caused is still becoming evident. We’ve lost an apple tree and most of a box hedge; several shrubs are barely hanging on. But other plants have thrived. Some of the roses have never looked better. One big surprise was the Pyracantha (Firethorn), ‘Orange Glow’, which covers part of a wall in the front garden. Every late summer I trim it back to reveal the berries. Often I do this job with a hedge-cutter or shears, but last week I had to resort to a pair of secateurs. It proved quite a task: there were so many berries.

Wet-loving weeds (a weed, after all, is merely a plant in the wrong place) have also thrived. Having provided a magnificent spring display in the meadow, where they provide a deeper, more golden hue to the paler yellow of the cowslips, the many thousands of dandelions formed their fluffy air-born seeds, which were duly distributed all over the garden by the northerly winds which were such a feature of the early summer. Seedlings emerged in the borders and flower beds, in late June and July, and grew into large plants, in August. We’ve been weeding them out relentlessly ever since (a slow process, given their deep tap roots), but I don’t think we’ll ever complete the task. Please be understanding. But on the positive side, Jason’s superb re-styling of the bamboo is greening-up and the asters in the main border should be in full flower. Storm Francis did a lot of damage, but we’ve managed to clear most of it up. We won’t be displaying many posters, as we don’t want to attract casual visitors, so do please make a careful note of our post code (on the NGS website). I do hope you’ll be able to come: both Maisie and I feel very strongly that the nursing profession and medical charities urgently need all the help they can get this year. It would also be nice to see so many of your friendly faces again!

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