During the weekend of 6th and 7th June, hundreds of private gardens all round the country were thrown open to the general Public via the National Gardens Scheme (NGS), a scheme that since its inception in 1927 has raised more than £45 million for charitable causes. Jane and I participated by visiting the nearby village of Froyle, near Alton, where six gardens were open to visitors. Fortunately the weather was bright and sunny and we were able to take our time and enjoy the gardens without having to shelter from wind and rain! I could show you dozens of photos of each garden, but I won't. I'll just show you a few from each.
This is the first property we saw - Ford's Cottage - a veritable "picture postcard" cottage.
Like all the gardens we visited, it was packed with beautiful flowers (and therefore absolutely buzzing with bees!). Look at this fabulous rose:
Of course I was very interested in the veg-patch, full of potatoes, beans, peas, onions etc, all looking very hale and hearty.
Each garden also had a few quirky little special touches, like this - a miniature garden in its own right, filled with succulents and mosses.
Next we went to Glebe Cottage, with its tiny garden built on the site of a former domestic garage. Something we noticed very soon was that there was no shortage of places to sit and enjoy the gardens. This one even had a carafe of red wine and two glasses on the table. Our kind of place!
In such a small space, it is important to concentrate on quality instead of quantity, like this perfect Acer, nicely displayed against a plain white wall:
And how about these Hostas? Perfect again.
I'm not a fan of cacti, succulents etc, but even I thought this little terrarium was most attractive.
Moving on to "Walbury", just a hundred yards further down the lane, we were very impressed with the colour-themed borders:
These pastel colours particularly appealed to me, a nice change from the rather harsh reds and yellows you see so often.
Down at the bottom of the garden was a tasteful little Summer-house complete with bench on which to sit and admire one's handiwork. Notice the open countryside visible behind. This was a feature of most of the gardens. Froyle is a country village, surrounded by beautiful countryside - fields and woods and gently rolling hills.
This is a view from the car-park of the village hall, where we stopped for a very welcome cup of tea. The air was full of the bleating of lambs and sheep! Notice the newly-thatched barn in the distance.
This is Day Cottage. The garden has several different areas, ranging from neat lawns and flower borders to a completely informal wildflower meadow, linking almost seamlessly to the real fields just over the back fence.
A winding path had been cut through the meadow, so that you could appreciate the wild flowers at close quarters.
The garden had a substantial water feature, based around this tranquil lily-pond:
This is also a water feature, though on a much smaller scale! The container holds watercress, and the hard-working little figurine is actually a pump which keeps the water moving.
The owners of this property evidently have a sense of humour too!
The practicalities of maintaining this large garden are represented by this well-organised compost-making arrangement:
It evidently works well, because just look at the size of this Spinach! (One leaf per serving??)
On now to Bramlins... "Delightfully informal" is my description.
"Chaos" might be a better way of describing the inside of the greenhouse. No, I'm sure the owner knows exactly what they have and where it is!
As with the others, this garden had little touches of real beauty. This weathered container looks as if it has been there for ever...
Five of the six gardens are in Lower Froyle, within a few hundred yards of each other, but the sixth one is in Upper Froyle, about a mile away. We nearly didn't go to it, but I'm glad we did. In fact I think we saved the best till last. This is The Old Schoolhouse:
This one really appealed to my sense of order and tidiness; it was immaculate.
This charming little sleeping dragon plant-holder was attached to the wall of the house just by the outdoor dining area (by the white parasol in the photo above).
Beyond the finely-manicured lawns, there was a more informal element to this garden too - a patch of wild flowers and waist-high grass, in amongst which there was another of those lovely sitting-out areas so perfect for Summer evenings:
Is that enigmatic look on Jane's face because I had just said to her "You can bring on the G and Ts now if, you like", or is it simply because she wanted to quietly admire this view of the mellow Hampshire countryside?
For me, as a garden enthusiast, this was a great day out - therapeutic, enjoyable and full of inspiration - something I think we will be repeating next year.