Never mind the weather, never mind the rain
Now that we’re together, whoops she goes again
All good pals and jolly good company
I gave up looking at the weather forecast for the day of our garden opening because there was nothing we could do to make it any different, and we duly had the anticipated rain, all day – but never mind the weather, never mind the rain, we had 45 people turn up regardless of it and spend around £460 between them, all good pals and jolly good company!
Not surprisingly, we were thrilled, with the result exceeding any expectation we might have had (no point in having an expectation, as we can never be sure how many people will visit), especially in view of the inclement weather – and not dissimilar visitor numbers to those of an average June opening, either. There were both repeat visitors and first-timers, all vowing to return in June ‘to see the roses’, with a fair sprinkling of plantspeople amongst them. Just as in a warmer and generally drier June, all but a handful of visitors wandered round the garden, had their tea and cake in the café (which popped up as usual in our ‘back sitting room’) or sitooterie, then wandered round the garden again, many lingering to admire or discuss certain plants.
Turning heads in particular was the lovely pink pussy willow, Salix gracilistyla ‘Mount Aso’, shown at the start of this post, and the three rooted cuttings I potted up from Monday vase leftovers were snapped up. I did not have many plants for sale, just half a dozen named snowdrops and a number of pots of the natives, a few Iris reticulata and two young winter honeysuckle, but everything except one of the latter sold, giving me the confidence to increase the number and variety of plants available at future February openings. One definite addition will be sarcococca, its fragrance wowing visitors even on a damp and cool day, and which I believe should root easily – and cornus too, also easy to propagate.
It’s quite probable that mid-February may always test the flowering longevity of my witch hazels (above, Hamamelis ‘Strawberries and Cream’), although a handful were not quite yet on the wane and could give our visitors an idea of just how valuable a winter-flowering shrub they are. Despite my reservations, the native snowdrops, although later than most years, were dutifully carpeting the woodland edge border and other quasi-woodland areas, lacking only sun to open fully, and it’s easy to forget how quickly crocus appear as if from nowhere, disguising themselves as blades of grass until their goblets fill and colour – perfect timing! Opening in February means I can unselfishly share the seasonal delights of the garden, giving visitors an insight into the wide range of plants that can bring interest to a late winter garden, and this mission was undoubtedly accomplished on Sunday.
Opening your garden for charity really focusses the mind and ensures outstanding jobs in the garden get done; 2022 is our sixth year of opening (second February opening) and we feel like old hands, well-organised with a stash of props stored in the loft, and willing friends to help out on the day. The latter were especially welcome this time as the Golfer is still poorly and very much kept a back seat during the proceedings, only popping out briefly when he felt up to it, generally to speak to visitors he knew. I am not a worrier, and although his absence was a concern there was no need to cancel the event as everything was in place and set to go – the right decision, raising £460 for charity, mostly the National Garden Scheme. Your interest and best wishes over recent weeks have been gratefully received and mean a lot to me – thank you each and everyone.
nb photos were taken on a brighter but windier day today