In mid-July each year we open our allotment community site for charity, which we do under the auspices of the National Garden Scheme. So we appear in the famous “Yellow Book” of gardens open throughout England and Wales. Our first opening was in July 2011.
The weather was exactly what you would choose not to have on an open day particularly in mid-July. Strong winds and heavy rain! But we had to go ahead and lots of volunteers spent the morning preparing for the afternoon, creating a tea shop out of Hut 2, putting up gazebos and putting up direction signs, car park signs. toilet signs, tea shop signs – lots of signs! Throughout the previous week members had been tidying up their plots and cutting the communal grass areas. A working party the previous weekend made the green spaces look spick and span.
As the time drew near Jude the Undergardener and Di, a fellow plotter, set themselves up to sell the tickets.
We nervously awaited the time to open and the weather just kept getting worse so we were worried that no visitors would turn up. But at the time of opening our visitors started to arrive. It was too windy to use umbrellas so they wandered around braving the wind and rain, stopping for frequent cups of tea and home-made cakes.
We judge the site’s scarecrow competition on the day and the entries give extra interest for the visitors. The fine couple in the photo were modelled on one of the plot holder’s parents! For 2012 our scarecrows will be based on the Olympics and/or The Queens Jubilee.
In the end we sent about £460 to the National Garden Scheme treasurers, so we were quite pleased. We hope for better weather this year when we open on Sunday 15th July.
In the Spring each year all the gardeners who open their gardens meet to launch the new season of openings, and the Shropshire gardeners meet at the home of the County Organiser Chris Neil at Edge Villa, close to where we live. We all meet up again to chat, find out about how successful the county’s gardens were the previous year and have a glass of bubbly and nibbles (extremely tasty ones they are too!). This year Chris announced that 2011 had been a record year with over £60 000 being raised.
At the end of the formality Chris and her husband, Neil invite us to wander around their own garden. So come with me and share in some highlights.
To find out more about the famous Yellow Book and the National Garden Scheme look up http://www.ngs.org.uk. And to find our entry in it look up Bowbrook Allotment Community in the Shropshire section.