Rather than wait till the three group visits in July are out of the way I thought I would give you a brief update of how the garden openings went. As I had to scoot off to see Elder Daughter first thing on Monday (and had been on call to head in the other direction to my Mum’s later this week too), it is really only today that the Golfer and I have had the opportunity to sit down together and talk about how things went.
You can see from the above photo, taken on the Sunday, and the earlier Wordless Wednesday one, that both days were hot, dry and sunny, and with the advance forecast pretty confident that this would be the case so that was one less thing to think about. Everything was organised, ready and waiting on both days and there were only minor hiccups before opening – struggling to open the barrier at the local village hall for helpers’/overflow parking, misplacing the key fob sometime between Wednesday and Sunday for our neighbours’ electronic gates to access our main parking (thankfully found – much later!), and another neighbour helpfully avoiding our Sunday opening by choosing to take the render off his house on Saturday instead, covering pots, plants, paving, windows and vehicles outside our house in dust and pieces of masonry….hey ho!
Last year we had the ‘novelty value’ of being open for the first time, but in any year there is no way of truly estimating how many people might visit, although I was fortunate that our local paper published a full-page illustrated spread about the opening, an unexpected improvement on the 3 or 4 lines the event was given last year! My personal target was to raise more money for the NGS than I did last year and I dithered for some time about the percentage of plants and refreshment to give to my local charity, which I still wanted to do. I am pleased to say that with the three group visits I should still achieve this, although I was disappointed with the number of visitors on Sunday. On Wednesday, we had visitors non-stop from the moment we opened with a total of 63 altogether, half as many again as on the Wednesday in the previous year. I was therfore hopeful for a similar increase in numbers on the Sunday but the latter, it turned out, had to compete with open gardens at our neighbouring village and, more importantly, England playing in the World Cup!
There was definite lull in the afternoon so there were times when my helpers (twice as many as on Wednesday) were left twiddling their thumbs, and by the end of the day we had received a further 63 visitors whereas I had been hoping for over 100. We think it was probably more the football that kept people away, as there are always several village gardens open at this time of year. Two of our visitors had opened their garden for the NGS for the first time this year – on Royal Wedding day – and numbers were low, and this and the football are just two of the things we have no control over, like the weather. Rainy days would definitely keep visitors away too, and we are fortunate to have been blessed with good weather both years so far but need to be aware that there will be continue to be uncertainties every year we open.
All we can do is to make sure everything is organised and prepared and see who turns up, so I must put aside my initial disappointment and be thrilled that all those who did visit enjoyed doing so and made positive comments about the garden – and that we raised a healthy sum of money for charity. I shall write more about these openings once our group visits are over and we can begin to get the house back to normal, dismantling our ‘pop-up café’ in the back sitting room and returning all our NGS stuff to the loft until next year.