Gatherings of Gardeners

Kate of Barn House Garden talked recently about receiving the promotional material required for opening her garden under the rebranded National Garden Scheme; on Sunday, The Golfer and I attended the Staffordshire, Birmingham and West Midlands ‘county’ lunch (although technically we live in Warwickshire, right on the boundary with Staffordshire… and Derbyshire, oh and Leicestershire too!) where we picked up our promotional bits and pieces – and had an extremely nice lunch as well! It was also a wonderful opportunity to meet other gardeners and lovely that many of them made a point of chatting to us because this was to be our first time – thus a great chance to pick people’s brains and get advice on all sorts of issues related to opening our garden for the NGS. The Chief Executive of the NGS, George Plumptre, was in attendance to talk about the funds raised (£3.5 million in 2016, a HUGE amount, and interestingly the NGS is the major benefactor of all the charities supported) and present long service towels for 10 years of  opening, and forks for 30 years. The fork, I think, will be beyond our grasp…

The excitement and anticipation of opening has been with me since we were first accepted for the scheme, way back in July last year, not diminishing even throughout the winter months as I continued to do as much in advance as possible, whether it be planning the logistics or preparing non perishable things like plant information labels. The lunch, however, and the fact that it is now only 3 months till the openings not surprisingly heightens the excitement, but also brings an awareness of how much there is still to do before then! The garden is doing its best by doing what it does best – growing! – whilst I am assisting by continuing to cram the greenhouse with seedling and making up (in a disciplined way of course) for not buying plants last year. A large order from Claire Austin has been planted up in the last couple of weeks, whilst this week my order of dahlias, lilies and some herbaceous plants arrived from Peter Nyssen as well as clematis from Thorncroft for the obelisks in the shrub border and a couple of posts. The clematis have to be hardened off for a week or two but all of the others have been dealt with almost immediately to give them the best chance of settling in as quickly as possible.

There will be no more bulk purchases of plants this year, but when not trying to keep on top of pricking out and potting on there are numerous other tasks to prevent me from idly twiddling my thumbs. Having had an email from Mason Bees UK to say that our cocoons were being dispatched, some last minute painting of their home was required, before it could be erected in the garden. New advice on how to install it meant a last minute bit of construction by the Golfer so the nesting tubes could be angled downwards to help drainage and for the release box to be attached underneath, but it is up now and the cocoons are currently incubating prior to (hopefully) hatching. I shall write about these bees more at a later date, but in the meantime do look at the website or see Jen of Duver Diary’s series of posts about her mason bees last year. I am very grateful to Jen for introducing me to the Mason Bee Guardianship scheme, which should be an interesting and worthwhile experience.

Painting has extended beyond the bee’s home to our own, with the garden opening encouraging a long overdue painting of our exterior woodwork and, when the weather permits, the very much larger task of the walls although the gable of the extension is a priority and needs to be done before the wisteria trained across it begins budding up – which means SOON! In the meantime, and before the required scaffolding is set up, I am getting on with other minor improvements, such as those that followed the edging of the heuchera bed with tiles – this job begot (with off cuts) the tile infill shown here which in turn begot the current work in progress, a further infill from off cuts of the first offcuts! This will take the form of a ‘starburst’ at the base of the recycled metal tree, which I don’t think has ever been shown on the blog before – made from a rainwater hopper, downpipe and various other iron artefacts from our local salvage yard.

Is there a collective noun for a group of gardeners? There doesn’t seem to be anything ‘official’ and although ‘spade’ or ‘plantation’ have been suggested neither of these seems appropriate and thus I referred in the title to ‘gatherings’ of gardeners. Last Sunday I attended a gathering of local NGS gardeners but I am taking up the suggestion of some fellow garden bloggers and offering to organise an informal get together in London around the time of the Chelsea Flower Show in May, perhaps the Sunday or Monday (21st or 22nd) before it starts. Would anyone be interested in this? Do let me know, as it would still be worthwhile even for only a handful of us.

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33 Responses to Gatherings of Gardeners

  1. johnvic8 says:

    Good luck and good weather for all your preparations. How about a “Gaggle” of Gardeners????

  2. jenhumm116 says:

    Oh Cathy! I’m sad enough already that the OH has managed to book us a holiday over Chelsea week, without also missing our gathering too! Any chance you could come up with another date?
    And PS well done for the bees. I haven’t even managed to open my envelope yet!

    • Cathy says:

      I will keep you posted, Jen – these were just tentative dates to see what interest there might be. With the bees I suppose I felt I ought to deal with them immediately but in hindsight a few days certainly wouldn’t have made any difference to them. There are still no signs of life stirring there yet…

      • jenhumm116 says:

        Opened mine up on Sunday and there were 5 or 6 already wriggling around – gave me quite a shock!
        I’ve put them out now, but I haven’t moved the tube and box around. (I noticed in your photo your tubes were above the box, but that’s not how they were set up last year, so I’ve just left them as they were. I reckon the bees are clever enough to work it out!)
        Happy bee keeping!

        • Cathy says:

          Oh how intriguing to see them wriggling around – I wasn’t sure what to expect. I have checked the weather for the next week and think I might put mine outside today as the nights are meant to be milder again. The new guidelines that came recommends mounting the release box below or placing it on the ground, so I had to have a last minute rethink. As you say, bees are clever little things and would probably work it out!

  3. Heyjude says:

    Sounds like it is all go in your garden. Good luck with all the preparations and I look forward to seeing the fruits of your labour as the opening date grows near.

    • Cathy says:

      Thanks Jude – I suppose I feel I need to keep on top of tasks so that the week or two before can be dedicated to cake baking and the last minute tidying

  4. G.F. says:

    a “bevy” of course 🙂 as in ‘ of beauties’

  5. Brian Skeys says:

    All power to your elbow Cathy (and the Golfers). An open day certainly concentrates the mind on the jobs to do list. I like the idea of the metal tree, all gardens should have something quirky/humorous, including the gardeners!

    • Cathy says:

      Oh we fit the bill in that case, Brian! You are certainly right in it concentarting the mind – all sorts of little jobs have been done that might not otherwise have been achieved yet, plus a few big ones!

  6. I have never heard about angling your bee tubes down. It makes sense though. My tubes have been used but not by mason bees. I really don’t know what kind of bees that use them but I have watched them going in and out of the tubes. Your garden will be ready and your house will look quite spiffy. Nothing like an open garden to get the gardener going. I have no idea what a group of gardeners would be called. A gathering sounds just fine to me. Your metal tree is intriguing.

    • Cathy says:

      The company that arranges the bee guardianship scheme have trialled different ways of improving hatching and nesting so I guess this is one of them. The Golfer probably angled the support a little too much though as the tubes were slipping out and we have had to wedge them in with pieces of bamboo 😉 Yes, there are more fun/productive jobs than painting the house (especially if it’s new project!) so at least it will be done and out of the way for quite a few more years…

  7. Alison C says:

    A deadline certainly focuses the mind…I’m sure you will get it all done and it will look fantastic. The bee tube is very interesting. I’m keen to do all I can to help the busy bees. We used to open our other garden in a local scheme and it was such a fun day. Talking to lovely people about plants!

    • Cathy says:

      When I opened the garden informakly and on a small scale lat year it was so good to be able to share it with others – seems selfush to keep it to ourselves! Do have a look at the mason bee guardianship scheme, Alison – as well as helping the bees, they are extra-efficient at pollinating so it will be good for your garden too.

  8. rusty duck says:

    I am delighted to hear that the bees have had their home painted. Standards must be maintained.

  9. homeslip says:

    Exciting to read about your NGS opening. Their new website is great, much more user friendly, with the emphasis on friendly I think. A ‘Grace of Gardeners’ (???) meet up just before Chelsea (or another time) sounds like a wonderful idea. Don’t worry too much about the painting, the planting’s the thing and the gable wall will be smothered in wisteria on your opening days. Although that said I have just painted my front door blue-gray and now have a yen to paint my allotment shed door with the leftovers … painting can be quite addictive!

    • Cathy says:

      I think the re-branding works well, although it surprises that even amongst people who like gardens there are many who have not heard of the organisation. Painting the house has been overdue for some time so it is an incentive to get it done. I am not entrusting the Golfer with the wisteria wall but I shall ‘let’ him paint most of the others although painting is not a task he relishes 😉 I will keep you posted on the meeting-up proposal

  10. Chloris says:

    There is nothing like a garden opening to concentrate the mind. A get- together for blogging friends is a lovely idea. Unfortunately I think I will be away for Chelsea week.
    I belong to a group of gardening friends and we meet for lunch and even garden visits. We call ourselves ‘The Women who Weed’.

    • I love that name ‘women who weed’ something that I love doing in my garden! Your words say it all.. a deadline focusing the mind. We find it does just that here too xx

    • Cathy says:

      Hmm, Women who Weed brings something else to mind and I definitely belong to that category…😉 Shame you might not be around for a possible Chelsea week meet…

  11. Hi Karen, I wish we lived closer! Last year we opened for the second time for the NGS, it was probably one of the most rewarding and memorable weekends of ours and our children’s lives! It will consume you from now until you open. However the joy from the outcome is priceless, I promise. There’s no denying, the buildup is quite immense and time consuming, but on the day…. you will feel on top of of the world and knackered at the same time!!! Please.. if you are traveling to North Wales, look me up and I would be happy to help xx PS. Remember the exam my son took..? They re marked it.. and there was a clerical error!!?? And 10 extra marks were found on his English paper and he shot up to the top of the scholarship rankings!!! Meaning.. he got it in the end… thanks for your comforting kind words xx my other two boy are dyslexic and have to work so much harder…

    • Cathy says:

      Not sure if all this comment was meant for me, as I am Cathy and not Karen…. Thanks for your enthusiastic words about NGS opening – are you opening again this year? I am so pleased with your son’s progress – having taught children with additional needs I know how hard it can be for them

      • Oh crumbs! Yes, I’m so sorry! We open every other year, so last year we opened and this year we are making changes. Because our garden is ‘in the making ‘ it gives us chance to have a bit of a breather.. more than happy to give any advice and offer you a place to stay if you’re over this neck of the woods x

        • Cathy says:

          I lookd it up in the book last year because you must have mentioned at some time. It has been good to pick the brains of other bloggers who have opened, so I may well be taking you up on your offer – thanks 🙂

  12. Christina says:

    Not quite sure how it happened but I nearly missed this post, which would have been a great shame for many reasons. I have tickets for Chelsea on Tuesday so far I haven’t booked my flights (need to do that soon) I would probably come on Monday but will come Sunday if you manage to arrange something.

    • Cathy says:

      Gosh, it would have been ironic if you had missed it, as the beginning of Chelsea week was your suggestion! Monday would be a better day for me anyway if I come on the train just for the day. Would you still be happy coming a day earlier to meet on Monday even if there were only 2 or 3 of us? Seems like the beginning of a plan … hurrah! 😀

  13. Anna says:

    I read this post when we were away last weekend Cathy but my iPad is rather truculent when it comes to posting comments. I love Sarah’s suggestion of a “grace of gardeners”. The get together sounds most enjoyable day out if I could get an advance return train ticket. Have you got any specific destination in mind on arrival in London? It sounds as if your preparations for the open garden days are keeping you fully occupied 🙂

  14. A get together sounds such fun, Cathy. At this rate, by May you’ll be ready for well earned days off.

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