At the weekend we opened our garden for the first time. Last February when we purchased the famous Yellow Book we were proud to see the name “Avocet” second on the list of gardens opening in Shropshire. Our August opening date seemed a long way off.
Suddenly it was upon us and we got more nervous the closer to Sunday 3rd August we got. We kept making sure nothing needed dead-heading, we checked the lawn to see how long the grass was and we wandered around every border to check there was enough interest especially colour.
The day before we opened our helpers arrived, my sister Penny and husband Tony came up from Bredons Norton a tiny Gloucestershire village and my brother Graham and wife Vicky from Farnham. Daughter Jo and her husband Rob dropped in from nearby Telford. We had a great evening working on preparations and then enjoying a meal with plenty of beer and wine consumed. Sadly I had to sick with Ginger Beer as alcohol and my morphine do not go well together!
So when the opening day dawned bright we were up with the lark checking that all signs were in place, the car park was ready, plant sales and tickets sales in place and the tea shop primed and ready for off.
The all important WC and teas signs were in place first followed by the balloons and signs at the bottom of the drive.
The ticket sales and plant sales tables were put in place and the tea shop set up ready and waiting for customers.
Vicky quietly put final finishing touches to her courgette and lime cake in the kitchen. Neither the tea shop or kitchen would be this quiet for a long time. Her cake became a real star!
We were to open from 11:00 until 5:00 to spread the load on our quarter acre garden. We thought we would have a quiet time until the early afternoon once everyone had indulged in their Sunday lunches. How wrong could we be as by quarter to eleven cars were already parked up and people were wandering down the lane. Our first customer, our friend Sherlie soon collected the first cup of tea and a slice of cake. This was to be the first of over 250 teas and cakes served up by by our trusty tea ladies. The drive soon filled up with visitors buying tickets, collecting our garden info sheets and looking at Jude’s plants for sale.
Tony and Rob had the car parking well sorted. This would prove to be the last time they found time to relax. As things busied up our neighbour living in the Old forge, who had lent us the field, supplied them regularly with drinks and food. Here we see the car park attendants waiting and ready for the first customers.
Things soon busied up and at the peak the field was almost full and we reached the stage of having only one car space left.
Every nook and cranny of the garden began to fill up with visitors keen to see every border, many making notes and taking photos. By the end of the day my voice was hoarse with answering so many questions, most visitors wanted to know the name of certain unusual plants but many were interested in the wildlife aspects of our patch and quite a few had queries about composting. It was heartening to see so many youngsters enjoying our garden and the little quiz sheets we had prepared for them.
As the last of the visitors wandered wearily down the lane to the car park we collapsed with tea and cakes of our own. The signs were soon down and our brilliant first opening was over.
We were tired and elated but pleased that 275 people came to see our little quarter acre patch. We were able to send a cheque for £1363.63 to the NGS to help support their charities.
We had just one day of rest before Jude and I spent an afternoon being interviewed for a magazine article about our garden. So many photos were taken and so many questions asked. We now look forward with anticipation to seeing our garden in print.