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Countdown to opening - two weeks to go


By AndrewR


Two of us in Bracknell, Berkshire open our gardens jointly under the Yellow Book scheme. This is the first blog (of three) to give you an idea as to what is involved in the run-up to opening.

My friend Gill owns the other garden. Although we are only a mile apart, the gardens and conditions are completely different. Gill has a woodland garden on free-draining Bagshot Sand and her back garden is under pine trees; mine has a more open aspect and the soil contains more clay. We are both plantaholics and try to grow a huge range of hardy plants suitable for our respective soil conditions so very few things are seen in both gardens. This year we are opening on Sunday 18th May.

The last couple of weeks has seen very hot and dry weather with just the occasional short shower. This has made working in the garden uncomfortably hot in the afternoons and meant that Gill has had to do a lot of watering. Tulips I potted up last autumn to plunge into the borders are already in flower and going over but on the plus side, the iris and wisteria are going to be in flower.

Day minus 14
Go round the garden with a critical eye to see what needs doing. There have been some winter casualties – probably due to a wet winter and late frosts in April. Will I be able to get replacements in time? I also make a note of gaps to fill and areas that could do with some colour.

Day minus 12
Pruned a couple of shrubs that are always late into growth – now they are finally shooting, I can see where to make the cuts. Rosa’ Canary Bird’ has a lot of dead wood this spring that has to be removed. Shredded all the prunings (which always takes longer than I expect).
Went to Wisley and managed to get a replacement erythrina and a dwarf choisya.

Day minus 11
Went to Abbey Plants near Wincanton to get a replacement loropetalum (Gill wanted one as well) and of course, found a few other things to purchase too.

Day minus 10
Spent the day touring local Garden Centres with Gill to take posters advertising our opening. Bought bedding plants for instant colour (Gill has a ‘hot’ border that doesn’t really get going until summer so she supplements it with busy lizzies and geraniums) plus a few other things to fill some gaps. Also took posters to the supermarkets in Bracknell, the library and our dentist (who has offered to publicise the opening).

Day minus 9
Went to Hardys Cottage Plants on the far side of Basingstoke where I know I can get some perennials for my yellow border.

Day minus 8
Spent the morning putting in some of the new purchases. Later went to a specialist nursery the far side of Alton to look for some unusual plants but the owner has had a slow start to the season (due to the weather)and there is not much on offer.
Put up a sign by the front gate publicising the opening – I am three doors away from traffic lights so there is always traffic queuing.

Day minus 7
Finished planting the new plants (except for a fritillary that is loved by slugs – I’ll wait until the last minute before putting that in). Visited another Yellow Book garden in the afternoon to give myself a break and to see someone else’s hard work. Then came home and planted out tomato plants and sowed some more vegetables.

I have now finished the major work in the garden so the last week can be spent on tidying and tweaking. I check the weather forecast for the coming week and try to schedule things like cutting the grass (I think I must trim the box hedges too). Then cross my fingers for good weather on the 18th.

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Crumbs, Andrew - I've often visited yellow book gardens, must i must admit I never realised just how much work and tweaking it takes - I always just imagined their gardens looked like that all the time! Your blog has definately increased my appreciation of those gardens. Good luck with it :-)

12 May, 2008


I am with Sid there Andrew visited lots of open gardens but never fully appreciated all the hard work that went on beforehand Good Luck with you next open day to you and Gill

12 May, 2008


Very interesting 'seeing' it from the other side! You are lucky to have Wisley so close!

13 May, 2008

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