Charity Open Garden Day

On 23rd July this year, I opened my garden to neighbours, friends and members of groups I belong to.

Main border

Main border

It was something I had been planning for about a year, taking cuttings and potting up plants ready to sell.   As I spend so much time (and money) on the garden I thought I should try and do something with it. It also gave me a good excuse to spend even longer and even more money on it.

As the time grew closer I began to get more and more nervous. I was worried that the garden would be in that awful stage between early summer flowers and late summer flowers. I was watching plants daily and looking at photos from previous years trying to work out what would be out.


Gorgeous blue of Tradescantia

Gorgeous blue of Tradescantia

As you can see I needn’t have worried – the garden did its very best for me.

These were supposed to be navy blue and white, but some paler blue ones sneaked in!

These were supposed to be navy blue and white, but some paler blue ones sneaked in!

Once the plants were looking OK I became a little concerned that no-one was going to come! I had put RSVP on the invites, but two weeks beforehand the only replies I had were people who were going to be away, or were going to have visitors, or birthday celebrations, or graduation ceremonies! It looked like I was only going to have about 20 people and that was including helpers.  That was OK but I had about 200 plants to sell and friends were making about 10 cakes. That is ten plants and half a cake each!

Geranium Rozanne - a reliable, prolific flowerer.

Geranium Rozanne – a reliable, prolific flowerer.

Again, I shouldn’t have worried. The sun came out and the people came. I had between 40 and 50 people on the day and with the plant sale too we made a good sum of money.

Paul and Mike at the start of the sale.

Paul and Mike at the start of the sale.

I had some very good friends helping me on the day. Two ladies, Gillian and Chris made delicious cakes for me. Just as well because despite trying several times my Lemon Drizzle Cake just wouldn’t rise! They then manned the kitchen providing tea and coffee for 4 hours. A new friend, Paul, offered to help with the plants and did a stunning job sitting in the garage for a couple of hours.  That left me and Mike free to circulate and show people round the garden.

We put up a pagoda just in case. .. .

We put up a gazebo just in case. .. .

My young friend, Ashley, had brought her spinning wheel and people found her knowledge of all things sheep related very interesting. I don’t think she had any takers for trying it themselves though. Perhaps they were afraid they would prick their finger and fall asleep for 100 years!

Spinning wheel

Spinning wheel

People were very complimentary on the garden, with the two favourite plants being a climbing rose that I have had long before I kept plant labels, and a small penstemon ‘Husker’s Red’ that was flowering beautifully.

Penstemon Husker Red

Penstemon Husker Red

Local gardeners were also surprised that I had a Cistus ‘Alan Fradd’ and a woody Salvia ‘Royal Bumble’ obviously thriving.  I don’t think I will take any chances next winter, though, and will be taking some cuttings.

Cistus 'Alan Fradd'

Cistus ‘Alan Fradd’

Just after the event

Just after the event

So, all in all, it was a wonderful event and I shouldn’t have worried so much. Would I recommend you doing it – absolutely! Would I do it again – the jury is out!





51 thoughts on “Charity Open Garden Day

  1. Yay! Good for you Annette. I’m not sure my nerve would have held out – I hate having people wander about the gardens without me explaining why such and such hasn’t flowered or why a particular area doesn’t quite work. Incidentally, I made my first ever lemon drizzle cake a couple of weeks ago. Beginners luck obviously as it rose nicely. Sorry. Sadly it didn’t hang around for long. D

    • You should have more confidence in your lovely work, David. I know on a blog we only get to see the good stuff, but from what we have seen your gardens are wonderful. Now then, did you really need to tell me that your lemon drizzle cake rose beautifully! I won’t give up though. I know the recipe is good, my daughter made one using the same recipe, the same tin and the same oven with no problem. I know I didn’t take it out too early so that leaves the flour or the baking powder.. . . . .I won’t give up!

      • Jim just had a failure on a cake – then saw that the baking powder was two and a half years out of date. Ooops. My recipe was from The Hairy Bikers (despite initial dislike of them, I’ve warmed). Now, of course, I expect all of my Lemon Drizzles to be perfect. Ha!

        • I don’t believe it – my recipe was the Hairy Bikers too! My ingredients were not out of date as I checked that the first time it didn’t work. I think I will have to do it next time with someone watching over me! On the third attempt I even weighed the eggs!!! Now I am even more determined to have another go.

  2. Well done Annette, we all worry the garden will not be at its best on a planned open day, I think that is because we see what is in flower the days before hand and hope they will still be. To add to it no two years are quite the same. It is enjoyable, I think to share the garden you have developed with other gardeners, you can learn so much talking to them. Best wishes for next time.

    • Thanks Brian. Yes, I wish I had managed to talk to more of the real gardeners that came that I didn’t know. I just know that they appreciated the garden as I heard of one lady that was sorry that she had missed it and wanted to come at another time. I was so chuffed! How many years have you opened your garden now?

    • Thanks Helen. I think the garden was almost at its best that weekend. I just wish the Coreopsis has been out and the Delphiniums not finished, but I couldn’t have had it both ways.

  3. Oh well done, your garden looks amazing. I have to admit, I wouldn’ t like to open my garden on 23 July. I find July a difficult time. Yours looks immaculate and do full of colour.

    • I had been worried about the date, Chloris, but it was the only date that all three of us could manage and I couldn’t have done it without my two friends. However looking back I think it turned out the best for the garden. It was so much fuller than earlier in the year and I do have quite a lot of things that flower later. I still can’t believe how everything came together on the day.

  4. Wow, this sounds amazing and your garden looks great. One day I would love to do this, but I’ve got loads to do and loads of ground to get covered. I’ve got many plans, but one day I will.

    • Hi Tina, thanks for visiting. I have just popped over to your blog and hope to read more about your garden. It is really good to have plans and having an open day certainly focuses the mind!

  5. Well done Annette. I like the idea of inviting people in but my (one and only) experience of having a garden open to public view (RHS Tatton Park) was such a nightmare (torrential rain coupled with plant disasters) that it put me off forever! Your garden looks lovely as always. No wonder everyone enjoyed themselves.

    • It could have been a different story Gillian if it had rained. I did have a Gazebo and the spinning and cakes inside and the plant sale in the garage so I was well prepared for our more typical weather. However I don’t think many people would have turned up if it hadn’t been such a nice day. Thanks for your kind words.

  6. I found your blog while Rambling through the Garden at Cathy’s. Your garden looks gorgeous, very welcoming with the tables and chairs scattered about. I enjoy seeing the plants flowering that burn up in our summers.

  7. Your garden looks a delight, obviously your hard work paid off and you were truly rewarded. And the sun shone! Your post would happily fit in with my garden challenge theme this month. I love all your blues, especially the Geranium Rozanne and the Tradescantia. And who can resist lemon drizzle cake 🙂

  8. What a wonderful event you made happen–and the weather cooperated for you too, which is lovely. You have every right to be proud. I can see why it could take a year of planning and work, so wouldn’t blame you if you gave yourself a break now.

    • I am actually having quite a break from the garden Julia. The weeds have stopped growing so fast and there isn’t nearly so much to do at the moment apart from enjoy it and a bit of dead heading.Thankfully we had a real downpour last night so no watering necessary either.

  9. The garden does look great with all the roses and other flowers. Congratulations, and I’m glad the weather and timing all worked out so well!
    It’s always nice to have people come by and make you feel like the work has paid off.

    • Thanks very much. I think my garden is really a late summer garden. I have often thought that, but when all the spring flowers are out it is easy to think differently.

  10. Many congratulations Annette – it looked wonderful!
    Whenever I’ve opened mine everyone’s been so enthusiastic. I always think it’s a lovely thing to share a garden you love with others, and make money for charity along the way.

  11. So good to read all the details, Annette, and I am sorry you were so concerned in the run up to it. It was clearly a big success and perhaps once the summer is over you might allow yourself to consider doing it again – the Scottish NGS perhaps…? I am currently working out the details of my entry for the Yellow Book and I think my main concern is the actual timing – but that will always be pot luck to a degree. Well done for taking the first step yourself!

    • Thanks Cathy. You have been quite an inspiration for me and especially in a Garden of the Year competition I have recently entered – see post coming up. Our gardening future here is rather unsure at the moment – with family all over the world it is difficult to know where we will be when. So with long periods of absence and periods of back trouble I am trying to get my head around making the garden easier to manage. I can’t quite do it though – not just yet!

      • Aw thanks, Annette ☺ But have you had the results of the competition…is it good news? Sorry about your back being a hindrance – I do try not to take my good health for granted and appreciate that opening your garden took a lot of effort. I have been hearing that there is a general uncertainty in Aberdeen too, with the oil industry as it is – will that affect you?

        • Hi Cathy. No results yet – they are making us wait and haven’t even told us when we will hear. At the end of the day they just want to sell newspapers. The fall in the oil price for such a long time has affected many many people in Aberdeen. There are so many people who have been made redundant. My husband is trying to get a new (oil related) business up and running. Couldn’t have been worse timing, but things are showing signs of improving.

  12. Well done Annette. It all looks gorgeous. I’ve opened my garden twice and it nearly killed me. We had 200 people troop through the garden. Completely sold out of cake and plants. All for a very good cause. I might do it again one day- when I’ve retired.

    • Hi Karen, thanks for visiting my blog and your nice comments. Gosh 200 people is amazing. Where is your garden? You have some lovely photos on your blog so I have followed you and look forward to seeing more.

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