Done and Dusted (but without the dusting!)

With the final two group visits last week, our 2018 garden openings are over  and the house and garden are more or less back to normal routines, as are the Gardener and the Golfer. The most noticeable change, and the one I began implementing as soon as our last visitors had gone, was dismantling the pop-up cafe and returning the back sitting room and the downstairs bedroom (the latter shown above, in the state it has been for the last month) to their usual layouts. All the mugs and plates, the tea urn, bench cushions and tablecloths, signs and other assorted paraphernalia have been returned to the loft for a well-deserved rest.

The totals for this year were as follows (last year’s figures in brackets):
number of visitors           170   (155)
entrance                           £686  (£544) 
plant sales                       £280   (£213)
refreshments                 £292   (£281)
bits and bobs                    £60   (£39)
total                £1318   (£1077)

Like last year, I took 20% of sales for expenses (£126) and a similar percentage of sales went to my local charity, which meant a total of £1066 was raised for the NGS, up from £810 last year. This may be a drop in the ocean when you consider the £3 million raised for the NGS in total last year but as a sum of money raised purely from opening a garden and providing refreshments it is not bad at all and, more importantly, it was considerably more than I raised last year and topped the £1000 mark which, if anything, was my unspoken target.

I know some NGS gardens attract hundreds of visitors at a time, but I can accept that this largely depends on the catchment area and in many cases national publicity (apart from the NGS Yellow Book and website); also, some gardens are specifically geared for optimum flower power during their visiting season, leaving a largely bare plot for much of the rest of the year. Even just in terms of parking, we couldn’t cope with many more visitors at a time than we have had, and greater numbers would certainly affect the overall visiting experience for those who do come. I don’t aim to have a pristine and perfect show garden, and comments in the Visitors’ Book show that visitors like it as it is, quirky and unconventional, a garden for all seasons, and taking ideas home for their own garden is one of the most rewarding things that a visitor could say.

So will we do it again? Yes of course we will, with very little modification to this year’s arrangements and organisation, having already taken on board our 2017 experience. We may move our availability for group visits a little earlier to include June and hopefully reduce the opening ‘window’ that way, although we have so far been reluctant to have such visits prior to the main openings. We are also considering a second Sunday opening, to sandwich the existing Wednesday; there are gardens we would have liked to visit but if the date has clashed with something (like our own opening!) then we have missed our chance and I guess there will be others in the same position, so a second Sunday might help. That, however, would require more helpers and as they are such a valuable asset we would not like to overburden them. This year we had 6 to help us on Wednesday (including lovely blogging friend Anna of Green Tapestry again – thank you so much, and also to creative Mr Green Tapestry for supplying some of our bits and bobs items) and 9 on Sunday, although World-Cup-reduced  visitor numbers on the second day did leave helpers twiddling their thumbs at times. Details for 2019 openings need to be submitted early in September so we have not long to decide!

It may be hard work (and to a degree it can be as much work as you want it to be) but I like working towards a target and the whole process was again a most enjoyable experience, with preparations slotting into place and all the opening days and group visits such fun, with lovely visitors, willing helpers, much information and many ideas exchanged, cakes appreciated and many positive comments left. Roll on 2019 openings, but not yet, thank you very much!!



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31 Responses to Done and Dusted (but without the dusting!)

  1. Well done. I bet your lovely garden was a refuge from the hot weather and the football!

  2. Well done, it’s a blessing when visitors enjoy your hard work

  3. Cathy the results of opening her garden this year have been fanatical. Congratulations for all the hard work you have done. But it’s been worth it, do not you think? Greetings from Margarita.

  4. Shirley says:

    Very well done

  5. Kris P says:

    Congratulations! I’m very impressed. I hope you enjoy your break from the flurry of activity.

    • Cathy says:

      Thanks Kris – it is quite strange being able to ease off, but I shall get used to it. And of course there are lots of garden tasks pending!

  6. bcparkison says:

    I think it is much better to have a garden that visitors can relate to. That can encourage others with
    ” I can do this” instead of ” How many gardeners did you say you have.” Your seem to fit the bill and was a success.

  7. Ali says:

    Well done! It is such a generous thing to do, but a real treat for visitors. I love seeing real gardens, and chatting to the owners; you have such knowledge to share.

    • Cathy says:

      Yes, it is a good experience all round and I enjoy being part of it – as does the Golfer, who is not a gardener

  8. tonytomeo says:

    I do not know what that ‘L’ with the dash through it is, but those numbers look big. It is certainly more than we ever brought in from our Open House . . . because we only generate revenue from plant sales.

  9. Thanks for the information on how things went. We don’t really have an equivalent here in terms of a national event and the book etc. so it is very interesting to see and hear what you actually have to do if you participate. We had a tour last weekend with two groups arriving one after the other by bus. I provided some munchies and ice tea but I am not sure if I am up to all the prep you have do do. Congrats on your success this year!

  10. Christina says:

    Very well done. It is a wonderful scheme. I visited a SGS garden while in the UK, it was a great experience.

  11. Alison C says:

    Well done , it sounds like a great success and no problem with rainy days. I think visitors like to see real gardens and all the interesting plants and ways to use them. I know I do. Have a well deserved rest.

  12. Hope that you are both enjoying the calm after the storm Cathy 🙂 As Ali says opening your garden is “such a generous thing to do” and well done on the total sum raised. Thanks for the thanks which I will pass on to himself. I had a most enjoyable day and it looks from the visitor’s book that so did a lot of other folk. Will be interested to hear in due course whether you make any changes for next year.

    • Cathy says:

      Thanks Anna – at least after the first time the prospect is no longer scary! See you next year, if not before 😊

  13. Lisa at Greenbow says:

    You upped the ante this year. Well done. I know people loved your garden. I would treasure those comments. You and the Golfer worked hard to collect them. Keep on…

  14. rosejasm says:

    Thanks for sharing your progress – it is on my bucket list to open my garden one year – so reading your journey has been very encouraging xxx

    • Cathy says:

      Oh do give it a go – the first time can be scary but if you open for friends and groups you are involved in yourself then it gives a non-threatening taster of what it is like.

  15. Brian Skeys says:

    It’s the little drops that create the ocean Cathy. Our experience is that the visitors appreciate seeing a garden that is similar in size to the one they have at home and can therefore relate more to it. New developments have even smaller gardens.

  16. Cathy says:

    A great result Cathy! Glad you have had a good year again and are ready to open once again next year.

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