Our first NGS open day: a weather miracle, cake and allotment cut flowers

Opening our garden to the public to raise money for the National Garden Scheme (NGS) was both an honour and a total mind-blitz to the senses. After all these years blogging about the NGS, it’s funny to add the ‘NGS’ tag to our own garden. It’s even funnier and lovely seeing other people’s photos of the garden after being the only person to photograph it over the last four years.

A post shared by Gavin Bell (@gavinsky) on

Being an NGS host is an experience like no other and I’m still physically and mentally recovering. It’s both exhausting and exhilarating. Chris and I can’t believe we’re about to do it all over again in just six week’s time on the 10th September (please come so we don’t spend the next month and a half worrying no one will turn up again!)

I imagine NGS days feel much like a wedding day for owners, with months of planning, prepping, pruning, primping and promoting. Then it happens. People you’ve been dying to see come and go within the blink of an eye like you’ve been sat inches from a slideshow for the whole day so by the end you’re not quite sure what on earth has happened, whether you imagined someone or they really did like your Dahlias.


A post shared by Gavin Bell (@gavinsky) on

Well, I was humbled to discover that visitors did like our Dahlias, but perhaps slightly more, they liked our friend Rosanna’s spectacular homemade cakes. Rightly so, they were delicious and Rosanna had clearly invested her heart and soul into making such a spread. We were overwhelmed at the effort that she had gone to and her friends and family saved the day when we found ourselves overrun in the first couple of hours (we had 130 visitors!)

I’m delighted to say that Rosanna, Chris and I will be teaming up again for our September opening for more wonderful cake and flowers. We managed to fill most of the house with cut flowers from my allotment including an extraordinary amount of Cerinthe major – I was amused to find at the end of the day that three bucketloads of which were still in the middle of the kitchen floor as though I’d intentionally put them there (and not just forgotten to put them away!)

A post shared by Gavin Bell (@gavinsky) on

A post shared by Gavin Bell (@gavinsky) on

Of course, it would be un-British of me to ignore the weather because a little miracle happened on the day. All week the forecasts were predicting rain the entire afternoon. We and our friend Wayne (who was also opening in Clapham) were disheartened in the week leading up to it to say the least. Lo-and-behold, on the day bang on 1pm as we let in our first visitors FLASH of lightening and the heavens opened…. for about two minutes. Then we had four hours of brilliant, bright uninterrupted sunshine. Relief!

Loved all the varied natural #geometry on display @jackjjw’s garden

A post shared by Tim Johnson (@mangofantasy) on

They say sun shines on the righteous, I don’t feel that’s me but everyone who walked through our door on Sunday 23rd July 2017 brought a little bit with them to help us raise a ginormous £830 for the NGS. Thank you thank you thank you!

A post shared by Gavin Bell (@gavinsky) on

I have even more respect for the thousands of garden owners opening across the UK than I had before and a warm fuzzy love for the National Garden Scheme and its volunteers who support us in opening. It’s a great idea and a great way to raise money for charity.

If you’ve never been to an NGS open day and aren’t sure what to expect, give it a go, even if you aren’t into gardens. You can find the gardens near you on the NGS website. They’re great fun, there’s lots to see, everyone’s lovely and of course there is usually home made cakes, all to help pass away an hour or so – sure beats a Starbucks.

Now that’s what you all a #dahlia @jackjjw & @lyonanderson #ngs #opengardens today.

A post shared by Andrew (@pitcombe123) on

A post shared by Andrew (@pitcombe123) on

Ian surrounded by lovely planting @jackjjw @lyonanderson garden today. Making a note of the #echiums

A post shared by Andrew (@pitcombe123) on

A post shared by Nathalie B (@nattiebuscombe) on

A post shared by Gavin Bell (@gavinsky) on

A post shared by Gavin Bell (@gavinsky) on

At the very talented @jackjjw and @lyonanderson open garden!!!

A post shared by Gavin Bell (@gavinsky) on

The following two tabs change content below.

Jack Wallington

I'm an RHS qualified garden designer living in Clapham, London who loves growing plants and designing with them. Follow me on Twitter.

5 thoughts on “Our first NGS open day: a weather miracle, cake and allotment cut flowers

  1. Congratulations – makes all the difference if the weather lets your garden shine!
    I miss those yellow book gardens – we get just a handful to visit in Cape Town.

    1. Thanks Diana, yes I still can’t believe it was sunny when it really wasn’t supposed to be. We feel so lucky. Does anyone open in South Africa? (Bit of a side note but I’d love to visit SA one day to see many of our garden plants in the wild).

  2. Pingback: Hello again hello.  – Gardens. Travel. Life.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *