The Garden Community for Garden Lovers

Setting Standards For 'Open Gardens'


By louise1


Yesterday i visited a few NGS Open Gardens that are close to me, they were all in towns but had large gardens (for town gardens) of about 1/3 or 1/2 an acre – what ‘i’ would give for such a size :-/

One of them really got me thinking !

As i walked into it i instantly knew that i was going to be disappointed because everywhere you looked there were large expanses of bare plantless areas – areas of bare soil where no plant had been, even.

This wasn’t where winter damage had taken its toll but simply a very sparsely planted garden and to ‘me’ this was not really what i expected to see – especially as it has a “spectacular” reputation …… well, i beg to differ !
And, why have your garden on show with less than a dozen flowers in bloom, where’s the attraction there …. it’s the middle of June for goodness sake.
I do not agree with having the colour coming simply from annuals/bedding but if your perennials/bulbs/tubers aren’t flowering yet then okay, maybe – to prevent the dull, colourless look …. but a largely colourless garden doesn’t really do it, does it ?
I didn’t take pictures because i didn’t think that was ‘on’.

It leaves me curious to know just ‘how’ the NGS set their standards and benchmarks though.
It seems to me – that if you have a very well planted garden, with no patches of bare earth to be seen ( a few inches okay but not several feet between plants) , plenty of flowers in bloom, well kept lawns and all clutter cleared away – that you’re going beyond what’s necessary.
Seems to me that doing less than the bare minimum is acceptable these days …… which ‘i’ think is very sad because NGS standards used to be high.
First Wisley being less than perfect and now this example ….. is it me ?

On a cheerier note !
I bought this ‘Gallery Series’ dahlia in a garden centre on the way home :-)))
It’s called ‘Pablo’.
I bought Renoir and Art Fair last year and they’re great too …. the Gallery Series are useful for front-of-border because they only reach about 14".

More blog posts by louise1

Previous post: The 5 Stages of Clematis Sieboldii !

Next post: Bright Colours On A Grey Day !



Do you think your expectations are too high Louise? I enjoyed Wisley when I went.

25 Jun, 2010


No - I was there too, Denise, and I've been there several times. It hasn't looked so neglected before! I'm sure you read that we enjoyed some aspects of it, though. When did you go there, by the way?

The garden Louise went to yesterday - she didn't mention it, but I went there with her and we were very disappointed. I'm wondering whether they've had a visit from the County Organiser this year - they certainly should. I realise that all gardens are different, but one opening for the NGS should have 45 minutes of interest. This one definitely didn't!

25 Jun, 2010


Clearly, Drc.

25 Jun, 2010


Sorry to hear you were disappointed Louise, can't see what the point is of having a garden open when so little in bloom.I think Spritz's Open Day for the NGS, has probably spoilt me for anyone else's, if I'm honest! Absolute stunning dahlia, by the way!

25 Jun, 2010


It's not just that Flori ..... the gaps ..... why open your garden for others to view when you've got several feet of bare earth surrounding each plant ?
Fill it - or at least 'some' of it, make it look like you're a plantperson and not someone just 'throwing it together'.
Make it look attractive.
Move the hosepipes, move the numerous empty flowerpots, pick up the dead leaves, deadhead a few things, kill the weeds ...... the 'basics' list goes on and on .......

25 Jun, 2010


It doesn't make sense, does it? I would want everything as perfect as I could make it, if I had people coming round and paying money to see my garden~surely there is a sense of pride attached? You want to show all that hard work you've put in, and get positive feedback on your efforts.......this sounds a total letdown.

25 Jun, 2010


I know one thing if my garden was 'open' it owuld have to be perfection, in full bloom and plants plants and even more plants, so I don't blame you being a bit disappointed.

25 Jun, 2010


That is a disappointment for you....I saw the series on television about how the "committee" choose, or not choose gardens for the sounds like they have been by-passed on this occasion. That dahlia is ever so pretty....I like.....I have Renior this year.....but its no where near flowering....yet......!!

25 Jun, 2010


Kfunsters, you're so right !
You have to have perfection because if it's not there you've no place charging folks to see it and Flori, you're right about the sense of pride .....
In this place yesterday there couldn't have been 'any' which is sad because i got the feeling that 'they' really liked their garden !!!!!

I always thought that i could never, ever open my garden because of the weeds, bad lawn edges and less than perfect state of it generally but judging by this one i would pass with flying colours ...... and that is 'not' a good thing.

Rant over now ;-)

Alice, i noticed loads of these Gallery Series' yesterday, never seen such a big display of 'em !!!!!

25 Jun, 2010


Which site Louise?

25 Jun, 2010


Louise - I am sorry you found a Yellow Book garden so disappointing. Please contact the County Organiser as this is the only way the NGS will get to hear about it. If no-one makes a complaint, the garden will continue to open and more people will be disappointed

25 Jun, 2010


I thought that the gardens were "means-tested" each and every year, although not so scruptuously as in the initial application. I also thought that an included garden must provide at least 45mins interest?

Louise, I hope you went home and saw your own garden in a slightly different light after this. You have amazing plants and colour schemes (many of my own faves), and it has well over the alotted minimum time for interest, am sure, for plantaholics like me.

Sorry to read that Wisley doesn't seem to be living up to expectations, either. Used to love going there twice yearly. Weather or budget cuts? Who knows?

25 Jun, 2010


I had a visit from the DCO this year, David, as I did last year! It was most definitely a 'check' to see if I was maintaining NGS standards.

This particular garden was a sad disappointment. I don't think we stayed there for 45 minutes! Louise's garden may be small, but it's full of colour and interest, and it's a shame there aren't any others near her which could open as a group.

25 Jun, 2010


Thanks for your comments and input folks :-)
Alice, it was in a Wyevale GC that i saw the display.
Andrew, yes, i think i 'will' do that because they 'do' need to know about this.
David, you are so right !!!
I 'did' see mine in a different light - by comparison it was brilliant and i know full well it's not ...... i agree though for plantaholics it would have quite a bit of interest and if i had the time - but more the dedication i would consider opening.

26 Jun, 2010


I must admit the standard around here in Hampshire is very high, have never been disappointed with any of the NGS gardens we have visited, in fact usually worried that ours is not going to be as good, OH is really fired up and wants to make the garden even better for when we open next year my brother also opens his garden in Nottingham and the gardens there are also of a very high standard.........perhaps the owners had been ill or circumstances had prevented them from keeping the garden up to scratch, either way it would be a good idea to have a word with the County Organizer as Andrew suggested.

26 Jun, 2010


Dd, i honestly wonder if they've ever been to see other peoples Open Gardens .... if you've seen the standards of others it gives you a benchmark to work from.
I get the feeling they're just complacent ...... it's been good in the past and they're trading on 'that'.
Also, i think they prefer to 'take/escort' their visitors around the garden and that way they talk them through most of the plants ..... 'that's' how the 45 minutes is probably made up ..... if you walk around yourself and there's no 'spiel' there's barely 15 minutes of interest ...... i personally do 'not' want to be talked through a garden automatically - if i'm interested i'll ask about things but to be talked around it - no thanks.

What's more, i might add that the 1/3 acre included several greenhouses which were cordoned off and out of bounds ....... they looked as messy as the other areas and again reduced the amount of 'interest' time.

27 Jun, 2010


Sorry you were disappointed Louise, I am going to Wisley on Saturday and am now wondering what to expect there!

27 Jun, 2010


Many Thanks for the feedback, Louise and Spritz. Glad that you can confirm some of my expectstions. The idea of a street or community opening as a group is well-known here. They open under the Scotland's Gardens Scheme (SGS), our equivalent of the Yellow Book (another thing I have to think about when planning a trip - so daft!, considering that I can drive to England in 1 hour or less!).

Bebo Craigs, near here, is a hamlet which is famous here for opening all its gardens as a collective under this scheme. Have always meant to go along - now that I have remembered, hope that I haven't missed them! Must Google the dates, but, now, scared to do so!

No excuse for greenhouses cordoned off! They should be fillled with luscious plants by now - both edible and ornamental - and on display. I was always careful to have my own greenhouse filled with edible pleasures for our visitors - and they were the entire village school!!!

No wonder you were both let down! Replace the DCO now.

27 Jun, 2010


Rm, it'll be good to hear about your visit - i'll be watching out for a blog on it.

28 Jun, 2010


I hope there's more to see - not just weeds, R'smum. Avert your eyes when walking past the bombsite called 'Rose garden in progress'...not a pretty sight!

28 Jun, 2010


Wow!!!....I LOVE' Pablo' Louise...:>)

3 Jul, 2010


I went to one years ago and all it was, was a large pond, surrounded by alchemilla mollis, but at least it was just one of a group exhibit, I didn't buy any of their alchemilla lol. Don't get to see any now hardly unless I can get there on the bus:-)

3 Jul, 2010


I agree with Louise. I have visited many public gardens over the past few years and some of the them almost empty and neglected, are open to the public with an entrance fee. I have visited Wisley many times and I believe that although still good it is on a decline. My great disappointment was with the Garden of the Rose in St Albans which I visited last year and there were very few roses in a rather poor condition.
Nothing better than a small loved private garden.

1 Aug, 2010


Costakis, that last sentence sums it all up, doesn't it ? !

2 Aug, 2010

Add a comment

Recent posts by louise1

Members who like this blog

  • Gardening with friends since
    31 Jan, 2010

  • Gardening with friends since
    16 Nov, 2008

  • Gardening with friends since
    31 Mar, 2010

  • Gardening with friends since
    10 Oct, 2008