Wednesday at 2pm was the appointed time. It came and went without anyone appearing, which was a little unsettling.
We had signed up to open our garden for the National Garden Scheme, persuaded by the local organizers who were keen to add some smaller and perhaps more relatable gardens to their local offer. Small gardens struggle to engage people for long enough, so the arrangement we came to was that we would open jointly with another local garden and people would buy one ticket to cover both. I don’t think there was ever any compulsion on visitors to go to the other one first but that was what they all did.
Again, because both gardens are small and lack open spaces in which to socially distance, we limited the numbers to 10 for each of 4 hourly slots in the afternoon. Of the 40 available tickets, we sold 33, plus one who came only to our garden.
Our first arrivals came with a dog, which it was clearly stated on the NGS website would not be admitted, so the man went off with the dog and the woman came into the garden. It seemed an unpromising start. From there on though it was plain sailing. Everybody was terribly nice and very complimentary and interested in all sorts of different things. Plant sales were good too, leaving us wishing we’d had more.
Our garden lacks open spaces, it’s plants and paths, with the latter no wider than strictly necessary. A one way system was considered, and rejected; the layout doesn’t lend itself to one. We needn’t have worried. Everyone was polite and considerate to a fault, backing up when necessary without being precious about it. My faith in human nature was somewhat restored.
The last timeslot was 5pm and by ten to six the last of our visitors had left: we shut the gate, poured a beer and started to prepare food. At ten past six two more turned up. Their sat-nav had led them into the local quarry rather than our partner garden so they were running late. They were very nice people too, turning them away was never considered.
Only nine more to go, wednesday and sunday afternoons, fortnightly, until 22 August. I’m so relieved that the first one went off so well. From now on it’s the glitches that will seem like aberrations, not the days where it all goes smoothly. Our next slot is this sunday and so far we have only 9 bookings. The weather forecast is not very good, but is changing every time I look at it; I’m a little surprised we have even that many. (I just looked again and we have two more)
If there’s one thing that works in our favour it’s that we’re an unknown quantity, and being located in the middle of an unassuming housing estate, I can’t imagine most people’s expectations are especially high. I went out the front this morning and took a picture of our frontage. Admittedly it was bins day, but our visitors must have wondered what they were in for. They were all too polite to comment of course. The dead Fiat Panda that has graced one neighbour’s drive for the last twenty years isn’t even in the shot, it’s just to the left.