Tuesday, 2 July 2013

Daisy, daisy...

It's clearly that time of year, when folk slowly crank open their creaky old gates and welcome perfect strangers into their gardens for a bit of a shufty. Having enjoyed the last open garden event so much, off I went with some friends to look at some more on Sunday. The first place we visited had huge long swathes of Mexican daisies everywhere, so I had to ask the elderly gentleman whose garden it was, what his secret might be...

'Oh, I bet you're one of those people who tidies everything!' he said. 'Just sweep everything to one side - all the seeds will be in there. You don't have to do anything!' Firstly, he has clearly never seen our garden, and secondly, if only... I have tried everything to get them to seed in wall crevices, and along the edges of paths - but other than a couple of new plants which have popped up under the swing seat where they can't even be seen, no joy. What was worse was finding out that he'd started the day with about twenty of them in pots, but had already sold every single one of them by the time we got there. Bother.

Having already managed to kill off one of the succulents I'd planted in an old sink we found in the garden, I was also pretty envious of this lot... and note the Mexican daisies everywhere, taunting me!

As well as Mexican daisies, I think I might need some of these (below). They remind me of Muriel Gray, circa 1982.

This garden (below) was a series of 'rooms', where several little sitting areas had been created by building 'folly'-style brick arches, or using recycled windows and doors.

Then there was this perfect little space in the middle of it all. It was difficult to tell how big or small the garden actually was because every corner revealed a new view, and then the path would twist back on itself. Not much good for a game of football, but lovely nevertheless!

Low in the branches, so close I could have touched her (and I am not tall!) sat a collared dove, putting on a show of peacefulness as she sat in her nest, protecting her eggs.

It was a perfect sunny day, and just walking from one garden to another offered up little scenes of gorgeousness, like these....

Even the houses themselves were putting on a show...

More gardens, and more ideas to pinch for our own, like the mirror behind the gate (I only realised when I stood in front of it to take a photograph) to suggest even more space beyond...

...and walls and shelves used to grow yet more plants.

Although only eighteen gardens were open to the public, it's obvious that a great many people around town take immense pride in their gardens... Neither of these two below were actually taking part.

Of those that were open for visitors, some were 'old school' and quite formal, while others were more relaxed and all about encouraging wildlife - 'not the neatest of gardens' read one description, 'however there are a number of interesting plants!' One garden was taken up with row upon row of perfect vegetable beds, while another had the river at the bottom, so not much else was needed to impress us! One had a perfectly arranged stack of logs, topped with twigs (perhaps to encourage solitary bees and other insects?) while another had a vertiginous drop at one end, as it was on the edge of an old chalk quarry.

The whole day was so lovely - hot and sunny, filled with friendly faces, and beautiful gardens, and as we stopped by the river for a moment I thought, 'This is just heaven.' It really is!

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