A Nerve or Two

I recently reread posts from this time of year to remind myself how I was feeling in the lead up to garden opening days, but I seemed to have been strangely silent. A lot of the general preparation work had been done well in advance last year and I seem to recall feeling pretty well organised in those weeks, so I was a little perturbed to find myself feeling slightly nervous last week – aware, I think, of all the itty-bitty things that still had to be done and wondering if it would all be done in time. And in utilising fewer lists than last year, was I in danger of forgetting something important?

Although the garden was doing its best even without my input, there were certainly many challenges – like the heat and lack of rain which will be fine for the Open Days themselves but has led to the frazzling of young seedlings AND, despite the weather, many well-fed slugs and snails who seemed to be chomping almost anything that was freshly planted out if it was young and tender enough. It is making me think again about planting annuals out into the main beds – they do brilliantly in the cutting beds…

…but amongst established plants in the other beds they quickly become slug fodder, and I am reluctant to pop the pots of zinnias shown in the lower picture into gaps in the beds because of the same rapid demise that greeted the agastache in the top left:

Some of the hostas are still pristine, but others are not:

On the plus side though, the first dahlia bloom has arrived (‘Dorothy Rose’, albeit not the small ball shape she is meant to be) – and for the first time I have a bloom on Anemone coronaria ‘Sylphide’:

A flurry of activity and the completion of many little tasks since those fleeting moments of self-doubt, not to mention a baking blitz and the safe storage in the freezer of half the required cakes, has restored my equilibrium and although tasks will be tackled right up to the first visitors arriving once again I have every confidence that all will be ready. We know from last week that the roses are looking good, and as June unfolds most of the borders are now becoming big and blowsy (and perhaps next year the perennials will have filled out enough not to require any annual fillers to plug the gaps anyway). Looks like it is ‘all systems go’ after all.

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30 Responses to A Nerve or Two

  1. Sally says:

    Hi Cathy,
    Your garden looks perfect to me. I know you’ll have a wonderful crowd and you’ll hear lots of “oooh’s” and “aaaah’s”.
    It is disappointing to see holes in all those lovely Hosta leaves….but, on a positive note, it’s so exciting to have a plant bloom for the first year!
    Happy Gardening!

    • Cathy says:

      Thanks Sally – I am sure that will be the case. It was a reminder to me that I can still be prone to a little wobble occasionally 😉

  2. bcparkison says:

    Every thing is going to work out just fine.

  3. Lisa at Greenbow says:

    It is always nerve wracking to have a garden tour but your garden looks ready. Anyone that gardens understands about those rotten slugs eating hostas. What a pain they can be. Try to relax and enjoy it all.

  4. janesmudgeegarden says:

    I think everything will go really well, Cathy and your garden will bring joy to your visitors. I’m looking forward to seeing it via the blogosphere myself.

  5. Ali says:

    From your posts recently I can assure you thegarden is looking lovely! But it’s natural to be nervous, in the way you are (or I am) before a party. Or even an exam that you know you’ve revised well for. Out of interest, how many cakes do you bake? Was it a big process getting vetted for the scheme?

    • Cathy says:

      Thanks Ali – it was only a brief wobble but I wanted to record it to remind me for next year! Definitely onto the excited stage now, with only a few days to go. There is no way of knowing how many visitors to expect as some people can have 100s, depending on the location, but I wouldn’t expect that here and last year based my estimate of 150 on numbers visiting a local garden in a similar kind of location (and that’s about what I had over 2 days and 2 groups). I made 20 cakes (160+ slices) and rebaked about 6 for the second day. This year’s numbers could be different again of course but I am still baking 20 (10 types). You need to be able to provide at least 45 minutes of interest to be included, but the organisers will want to check safety and (to a degree) parking but most should be happy to advise on any tweaking. Mine visited a bit later in the year and we agreed to defer a decision till the following year when they could visit at the time I would open but they were very positive and made suggestions about some of the paths (safety issues). I certainly wouldn’t have wanted to change the character of the garden in any way – and didn’t need to. Any other questions just ask

      • I really appreciate the details in your comment, above, as I seemed to have missed in earlier posts what opening day meant. I briefly thought you had a community plot, but now I understand it’s your own home garden that you open to the public for a few days. What a fun tradition! I can well imagine why you would feel stressed (I would too) but what a lovely thing to do. I can’t wait for pics of the tour days. It all looks fabulous.

        • Cathy says:

          Thanks. I have to say I don’t get stressed, but I did feel a little bit pressurised at that point 😉 It isn’t actually a tour though – we are open for about 5 hours on both the days and people come and go over that period. I will try and remember to take some photographs although I didn’t last year!

  6. Christina says:

    You’ve been quite quiet in the run-up to the opening this year too; I was only thinking the other day that you must be very busy because there hadn’t been many posts from you. I’m sure it will all be fine and I know everyone will enjoy their visit to your garden. I saw a slug moving across the drive last week; they are such a rare sight here I left it! I might regret that.

  7. Good luck…wish I could be there! Be sure to take a big breath on the day, relax, and enjoy it all!

  8. Sam says:

    I wish I lived closer, Cathy, and I could come and give you a hand! I’m sure it’s perfectly natural to be a little nervous, the same way it is before anything that you’re responsible for and want to go well, but your garden is absolutely lovely and there will be so much to see. Bah to those pesky slugs and snails! And you have cake, which is always a bonus. I hope all your final preparations come together perfectly. Sam x

  9. Cathy your garden looks very beautiful. It is a shame to see the leaves of hostas with holes made by snails or slugs. Any gardener or garden fan will understand. The Dahlia flower is very beautiful and I love the Anemone flower. You have cakes Everything will be phenomenal when the visitors arrive. 🙂 Take care. Greetings from Margarita.

  10. pbmgarden says:

    Things are looking lovely Cathy. ‘Dorothy Rose’ is very pretty. Try thinking of nervousness instead as excitement! Trying to use that advice myself.

  11. tonytomeo says:

    It is amusing to see how different things are from year to year, even here in our very mild climate. I think it would be even more amusing where the climates are more variable.

  12. It is heartening to see great gardeners get their plants eaten by slugs too. The ugly stuff is always interesting!

    • Cathy says:

      I certainly make no claims to being a ‘great gardener’, Cathy. With lugs I try to take a laissez-fair attitude where possible, but the organic slug pellets have come out now!

  13. Chloris says:

    I’m sure everything will go well, I wish I was near enough to come and give you a hand. When is it?

    • Cathy says:

      Thanks Chloris – all will be well, I am sure. It’s this week, Weds 20th and Sun 24th. Hope your American visitors enjoyed their visit to yours

  14. rusty duck says:

    Good luck, will be thinking of you. But the garden won’t let you down.

    • Cathy says:

      Thanks Jessica – walking round the garden last night when I went out to close the greenhouses I certainly felt it was ready to do me proud. Thank you, Garden 😊

  15. The truth is people are just so curious to see what others are growing and how they’ve laid out their space. They are usually gardens as well, so understand all the issues of bugs and weather etc. and are forgiving. This summer I have a conifer group coming and, of course, I lost a ton of dwarf and medium conifers after our bad winter!

    • Cathy says:

      Yes, you are right – but I made sure in my description that people should not expect neatness, but informality. Hope your group visit goes well too

  16. So much to do and I feel the weather has not helped: snails and slugs are rampaging at night leaving holes on echinaceas, eupatorium and hostas. I am reluctant to put pellets down, but really could do with the help.
    My lists seem to be getting longer not shorter!

    • Cathy says:

      Yes, here too any annuals not in the cutting beds have struggled with the heat and my outdoor sweet peas are hardly worth sticking with. Theoretically there should be less slugs and snails when it is dry but they make up for it on the odd occasion when it feels damp, grrr! I have organic slug pellets but still avoid using them. Hey ho – at least genuine gardeners who visit will understand

  17. And I forgot to say, good luck, ( not that you need it) I hope the weather stays fine for you.

    • Cathy says:

      Thanks Dorris – and I am beginning to think there may be more visitors than last year, as the local paper ran a lovely feature. We shall see – not long now!

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