Don’t you find it funny how people are so inquisitive, that the invitation of an Open Garden event gets people there in flocks. They just love to look around, taking things in, getting ideas and inspiration from what others enjoy doing, and hopefully leave happy and fulfilled that they’ve glimpsed into someone else’s life and passion for gardening for a few hours.
We spent an enjoyable afternoon a few Saturdays ago visiting a local garden which was open through the Scotland’s Gardens scheme, a book full of inspiring gardens open throughout the year. It was a small garden but had the most amazing national collection of Auriculas, over 1800 different varieties of this stunning little plant. I love the daintiness of these little flowers, their beautiful tiny velvet faces smiling at you in an amazing array of colours and markings.
They are a member of the Primula family so are at their best in mid to late Spring. They were displayed around corners of the garden in Theatres, painted in the traditional black to show up their stunning colours. They don’t really like to get wet as it marks the velvet flower petals and spoils the look of them, so under the cover of these posh wooden boxes is the ideal place to display them. A small collection of Auriculas were for sale so of course a trio had to come home with us so that I can start my own little collection, plans are afoot for a stylish little Theatre in a corner of the garden!
If you’re anything like me, it’s far too easy to get bogged down in your own plot and you never seem to see beyond your own garden fence. Last year, I decided that it was about time we took ourselves off to visit a few gardens, but not just any old gardens, Sissinghurst, Great Dixter and the wonderful Perch Hill. A holiday in the South East was planned, all around the Open Day on 31st July at Perch Hill, to say that I was excited was a bit of an understatement!
The aforementioned “big” gardens were wonderful to see, Sissinghurst hugely romantic and the story behind it really struck a cord with me, and I just adored the jungle of planting that is Great Dixter. But I came home truly inspired by Perch Hill, I think that fact that it’s on a reasonable scale and is all very “doable” in your own plot made it all the more enjoyable.
Having had the guided tour by Sarah Raven herself, it was easy to see how being taught by Sir Christopher Lloyd had inspired many parts of the garden, the Oast Garden is like a mini Great Dixter, full to the gunnels with big plants, self seeders and bold colours. It was a joy to see it in real life having poured over her “Bold and Brilliant Garden” book so many times over the years. I did chuckle to myself when a few ladies insisted on climbing up the stairs and into the Oast House, just to see what was up there of course, and were swiftly shown back down the stairs by the man of the house (the great writer Adam Nicolson) with the gate at the bottom being promptly closed! Nosiness never fails to amuse me!
This year, we have been cajoled by a friendly committee member into opening up our own garden for the Scotland’s Gardens scheme. We decided to go for it at the end of August in the hope that the dahlias will be flowering, the annuals will be having a blast and that the later flowering Heleniums, Monarda and Stocks will be filling the garden with bold blooms. The tea and cake will be flowing and fingers crossed the weather gods are on our side for the day. On that note, I’d better get back to tending the greenhouse full of Dahlias!
If you’re interested in visiting Sissinghurst, why not join Sarah for one of her evening events there in the summer?