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Cake day


by James Alexander-Sinclair

I used to open my garden for the National Gardens Scheme. It was a great occasion that my children called 'Cake day'. They weren't even faintly interested in the garden but used to sit in my parents-in-law's garage...and eat their way through more cake than was strictly good for them.


I used to open my garden for the National Gardens Scheme. It was a great occasion that my children called 'Cake day'. They weren't even faintly interested in the garden but used to sit in my parents-in-law's garage (which was temporarily transformed into a tea room) and eat their way through more cake than was strictly good for them. We then had a couple of years when the weather was so unremittingly miserable that hardly anybody turned up - so I decided to give it a rest for a while.

The NGS scheme has been running for 80 years and provides the opportunity for nosey (ie all) gardeners to poke around private gardens large and small.

The garden designed by James in SulgraveA garden that I designed, opens for the first time this year and, as a result, I've been scuttling around titivating things: more specifically I've been plugging any gaps in the planting to compensate for the ravages of the army of cute (but intensely irritating) baby rabbits that use the garden as their own personal theme park. There are very few ways of controlling the little blighters, except fencing off the whole garden and creating a sort of bunny no-go zone. That's not a simple exercise unless your garden is flat and unencumbered by the usual hedges, trees, shrubs etc. Any fence needs to be at least 600mm high and with a further 200mm buried to stop them tunneling their way in.

The garden is open as part of a group of eight scattered through the very charming village of Sulgrave in Northamptonshire (home of the ancestors of George Washington - first president of the USA and possessor of a set of false teeth made largely from hippopotamus). It's wonderful when a whole village gets involved in these things and by early afternoon the place was heaving with visitors (between 400 and 600 people) mooching about and drinking tea.

The weather was glorious, people were very polite about the garden and seem to have had a wonderful time. My client thoroughly enjoyed showing people around his garden - while cheerfully admitting that he knew the name of only one plant - allium. Hopefully nobody asked him too many questions or they would have gone away horticulturally confused!



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Gardeners' World Web User 16/07/2007 at 23:34

Hi, I'm considering opening for the NGS. This morning I had a visit from the area (Cumbria) representative of the NGS. The thought of so many visitors in one day scares me a little - I expect that once I have my shady borders better planted and with some colour that I shall feel a little happier if I am accepted. How does one get colour in a shady border? Help!

Gardeners' World Web User 16/07/2007 at 23:34

We opened our garden yesterday as part of Fareham (Hampshire) in Bloom. 7 gardens participated and, despite the recent apalling weather, we had a very pleasant day weatherwise, with 212 people coming along. It is a really good experience meeting like-minded people and getting to know your neighbours. Try it - it's fun.

Gardeners' World Web User 02/08/2007 at 11:25

I have solved the problem of keeping snails from favourite plants. Where do I go with my idea? I know it works!

Gardeners' World Web User 15/08/2007 at 13:27

Please come to my garden!! Seriously though you would need to patent and trademark the idea so no one can pinch it and claim the glory - and the financial rewards should it take off. First step - UK patent office. I wish you luck and success. Does it kill them? and is it toad friendly?

Gardeners' World Web User 11/09/2008 at 01:23

Does anyone know what my plant is called, its got velvety leaves, tri-lobes, alternating up the stem, its about 5 ft high, the leaves are grey green - each lobe is roughly 4 inches long, its stood in a pot in the shed for 2 years, and i put it in the earth this springtime, its not flowered yet, friends gave me the seeds in America (East Coast)

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