This isn’t quite the view that visitors to our garden on Sunday afternoon were met with, as an overcast day meant the single common snowdrops were still mostly not fully out, unlike today. However, from comments made to the Golfer, myself and our helpers it would appear they still enjoyed themselves, as the number of visitors exceeded not only any previous openings but also any expectations we might have had. And it was DRY!

We opened from 12.00 until 4.00, and within ten minutes the ‘car park’ (theΒ  ‘playground’ of a neighbour’s converted school house) was full and other vehicles parked on-street down the lane; this continued throughout the afternoon, triggering traffic issues once visitors began leaving as well as arriving. As the day went on, we watched ticket sales creep up in a state of complete amazement, giving us a total of 145 visitors – more than twice as many as we have ever had on a single day!

Normally, I try to speak to all visitors, but on Sunday this just wasn’t possible, even if I could remember who I had already spoken to! Our friend on the gate makes a note of where people have come from, which is always interesting, and when I do speak to people I like to know if they have been before and, if not, where they heard about the opening. This time, although there were repeat visitors, it was the first visit for the majority, seemingly because we were listed under snowdrop openings on the NGS (National Garden Scheme) website, a list which probably gets picked up by other media sources too.

I have written several times about our experiences of opening the garden and don’t want to repeat myself, so will focus on what was different about this one. Visitor numbers meant that a total of Β£1076 was raised, most going to the NGS with a proportion of refreshment and plant sales going to a local charity and a similar proportion taken in expenses to cover the cake baking. And talking of cake baking, for the first time ever we very nearly ran out of cake! Normally overcatering to reduce the risk of running out and giving us a welcome stockpile in the freezer, the unexpected visitor numbers this time took its toll, and baking to meet our own needs will have to resume sooner than expected! The plant stand, with common and named snowdrops and Iris reticulata, was similarly depleted.

Admittedly it does take some effort and is not just a matter of opening a gate, but this is our seventh year of opening (the third time in February) and the practical preparation is now largely routine, with the necessary ‘stuff’ coming down from the loft or out of the shed and returning there afterwards. We can also rely on our regular helpers who know the ropes too, although we could have done with additional help with refreshments earlier than was planned. Despite my determination to make time to sit down on Sunday morning there were still things that could only be done on the day – but I did manage 15 minutes!

What have we learned this time? In particular, that snowdrops bring out people who are not necessarily gardeners, as the huge increase in numbers demonstrated. Also, can we cope with this number of visitors and do we want to? It was the first time that parking has proved to be an issue and this will have to be addressed. Although many first time visitors insisted they would come again in June, this didn’t happen last year when our February visitors said a similar thing, so we can’t assume it will be the case, but we certainly need to be prepared for February next year – but would a colder or wetter day make an impact on numbers? There seem to be three alternatives: to open on more than one date, to offer only online timed bookings or to find additional parking. Rather than rely on the generosity of our neighbours and helpers, the latter is the preferable option but not easy to do in a small village.

It’s something to mull over now things have been tidied away and furniture rearranged, the figures balanced and money banked, as the exhilaration and exhaustion fade and quiet satisfaction at the overall success of the afternoon takes over, as we allow ourselves to relax a little and take things a bit slower. Thank you all so much for your continued interest, support and good luck wishes, always treasured.





This entry was posted in early spring, Gardening, Gardens, open gardens, snowdrops, Winter, winter interest and tagged . Bookmark the permalink.

31 Responses to Reflections

  1. Rosie Amber says:

    So glad to hear of your success, it will have made all your efforts worth their while. Now sit back and take a well deserved rest…!

  2. Congratulations! Lots to think about, but what a very satisfying event overall.

  3. Going Batty in Wales says:

    You have so much energy and what a fantastic sum raised for charity! Your success is well deserved. I sympathise with the parking problem – whenever I have a group here I have to ask thenm to park at the farm up the hill!

    • Cathy says:

      I do enjoy all planning and preparation, and it was definitely more than worth the effort this time! We did once have permission to use the car park at the village hall but now they insist the gate is kept closed to prevention travellers moving onto the site which obviously is impractical with people coming and going

  4. Congratulations on a roaring success.

  5. bcparkison says:

    Word must be getting out that it is worth a trip. Wish I could visit .

  6. Donna Donabella says:

    What a wonderful sight. I can see why people are flocking to your garden. Lots of work but so appreciated I am sure. Wish I could see it in person!

    • Cathy says:

      Most of the tasks in the garden are a labour of love, Donna – and it’s good to be able to share the pleasure that the garden gives me

  7. Cathy says:

    Congratulations to you Cathy! What a wonderful result, am so in awe. And wish I could have been one of the people coming in to see your lovely garden. Long may your joy continue – and your fund-raising for the NGS!

    • Cathy says:

      Thanks Cathy – no need to be in awe though, but I too am still reeling from the result! And if you are anywhere near us when you are in the UK you are welcome to visit us at any time!

  8. Su says:

    Congratulations on your successful open. I love the photo of hellebore, and your window display must smell wonderful.

    • Cathy says:

      Thanks Sue. The ‘window display’ is made up of all the vases that were put on tables – when I put the tables away it was the easiest way to display them

  9. Kris P says:

    I’m glad it went so well, Cathy, but I’m not at all surprised!

    • Cathy says:

      Thanks Kris – you can never be sure of numbers, even if you have online booking, as people could still turn up on the day and I wouldn’t want to turn them away,

  10. Cathy says:

    Goodness, what a lot of visitors! All quite understandable though if they have heard about or visited your garden before. πŸ‘ A fantastic sum earned too. Good that you didn’t completely run out of cake. πŸ˜‰ Hope you can find a solution to the parking for next time.

    • Cathy says:

      I certainly wouldn’t want to cater for more than that, Cathy, but it was interesting to find out that we COULD cope with this sort of number – and if (when!) we work out the best parking solution it could pour with rain next time and we have virtually nobody!

  11. Sounds great. Well done! Glad that you now have established practices that make it a little easier for you … but to hit the parking limitation is super impressive 🀣

    • Cathy says:

      Thanks Allison – when we first opened, my fear was always about parking, whereas for the Golfer it was that nobody would come! Our June days have generally averaged mid 40s, and the 2 Februarys (both wet) brought mid 20 and mid 40 – it was being listed on the NGS site as part of the Snowdrop Festival that must have brought on the onslaught, and yet for me it was never just about the snowdrops

  12. What a beautiful scene for your visitors to peruse. Brilliant news Cathy although I do understand the issues accommodating such numbers must raise for you. The NGS snowdrop openings are also listed in a number of the gardening magazines and it also has a Facebook and an Instagram account. Maybe Twitter too I think. I wondered whether appearing in the HPS Galanthus Group magazine might have attracted some extra visitors too. Do you have a local Parish Council who might be able to suggest any other parking spots or perhaps you’ve already been in touch with them πŸ€”

    • Cathy says:

      Thanks Anna – and for confirming that the Snowdrop Festival openings are listed in gardening magazines too (out if interest, do you know which?). We are already listed with the HPS Galanthophile group and that definitely boosted the numbers last February. We have previously had permission to use the village hall car park for overflow parking (but not needed it) but now they insist the gate is kept closed to deter ‘travellers’ and we couldn’t really man 2 different parking areas. We are going to speak to the pub, which us our main option

  13. Congratulations Cathy! Your years of hard work and passion for gardening has literally paid off!

    • Cathy says:

      Thanks Chris, and we have been opening in June for six years already (two ywars for the winter opening), so the preparations and routines are fairly engrained now

  14. pbmgarden says:

    I’m happy for your successful garden opening. Lucky visitors I’d say.

  15. bittster says:

    Congratulations, although you’re already full of the what-ifs and next-times, you’ll figure that out and for now deserve a few days of basking in the glow of a successful open!

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