Last Sunday, I opened my garden, with thirty-two other gardens nearby, for Faversham Open Gardens.
Andy Garland and Steve Bradley from Radio Kent’s Sunday Gardening programme arrived at 10 o’clock as the garden opened, with Alexandra Campbell, who writes the renowned garden blog The Middle-sized Garden and is one of the event’s organisers.
As they briskly dealt with cables and microphone, the visitors started to drift and then pour through the garden gate. It was delightful to meet so many people who love gardens – to hear about their own gardens and the other gardens they had visited in Faversham.
I live in a Victorian terrace in the middle of town with a long thin garden crammed with plants. In the sunshine, the delicious scent of the philadelphus was intensified by the scent of the Sharifa Asma rose and the lavender as they were whipped by the wagging tail of my hospitable labrador Charlie as he welcomed visitor after visitor.
Of the many charming remarks (it’s terribly good for your confidence to open your garden), I particularly liked the woman who said: “If I had a garden like this, I’d never go on holiday.”
The red berberis (seen in the background below) glowed, with the new pink shoots looking as though they had been touched by the highlighter’s brush. Through transparent pruning, I have transformed this berberis from a prickly khaki lump with sombre maroon touches to an open-stemmed bush which veils, yet reveals, what is beyond and offers all its leaves to the sun giving it its intensity of colour.
The Sharifa Asma rose from David Austin (pictured below) held the last of its first flush of blooms. In the background, the long purple buds of lilies regale push up through the astrantia.
Using height in a long thin garden increases your planting area and allows you to look through and glimpse what lies beyond. These Mount Everest alliums which shimmered ghostly white on twilit Spring evenings, have long set their seed but their green heads float above the lower plants for long into the autumn.
The terrace outside the double kitchen doors is laid in brick bond crossing the garden, giving the illusion of greater width. The brick is a pale dirty yellow to match the brickwork on the house. I like to use large-leaved plants such as the rheum photographed below, tetrapanax and cardoons. They confound one’s expectation of scale and make the garden appear larger and less confined. Leaves can be removed without harm if they start to bully their neighbours.
In the evening after the last visitor had closed the gate behind them , we brought the kitchen table outside to eat in the fading evening.