Countdown to opening - the day arrives
Well this is it – our Open Garden day. The forecast is dry and not too hot. The garden is looking good (even if I do say so myself), we’ve done the publicity, now there’s just the setting up and waiting for the visitors.
First, I go to the top of the road and put up a big sign. We know from experience that if we put it up too soon, the Council takes it down again so it is always left till the day of the opening.
Next I do a quick dead-heading and plant the last two plants – a fritillary that is very prone to slugs and a jasione (alpine) I bought yesterday.
Put up all the signs within the garden (advertising other Yellow Book gardens in Berkshire, a list of the charities it supports, information on the Garden Club, price list for the sale plants and a warning sign for a step beside the garage).
Put out the sale plants – this always takes ages trying to get as many as possible on the tables but still all presented in the best possible light. The wind gets up and blows several small fuchsias off – they need repotting and placed in a less vulnerable position.
Gill comes over with the money for floats and a spare table (which isn’t very stable) but I mange to prop it up with a spare chair and fill it with more plants.
Having set everything up, I can stop for lunch and draw breath. The first of my two helpers arrives half an hour before we open and has a quick look at the garden. Then she tells me how wonderful Highgrove is!
I concentrate her back on today and she sits by the gate, waiting for our first customers.
Bang on 2pm, the first two arrive. My second helper is not here yet so I man the plant sales until she arrives. That leaves me free to chat and answer questions plus make the helpers a cup of tea mid afternoon. We seem to be getting a steady stream all the time so it never gets too crowded. There are about a dozen plants that everyone is asking about but sometimes someone will surprise you by asking about something else. Finally it is time to stop, but a couple of ladies arrive after 5pm (when officially we are closed) – they have spent too long eating tea at the other garden but I let them in anyway.
They loiter a bit but buy some plants on the way out.
And then it is all over. The garden is empty again and all the blood and sweat is over for another day. I clear away the sale plants, take down all the signs and store away the furniture. We have had nearly one hundred visitors and took over £290 on the gate, £80 from teas and a similar amount from plant sales. That’s it till the next time.
And to cap it all, my team – Exeter City – won too!
It has been a good day.
- 19 May, 2008
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