Below the Radar: Open Garden horror

Susan RasmussenSusan Rasmussen
Susan Rasmussen
This is not a gardening column. Despite appearances.

It’s more of a dropped jaw, hands to face, eyes popping out moment. I agreed, no, worse than that, put my hand up like the class swot.

This comes under the heading ‘impulsive behaviour I’m going to regret’. I volunteered enthusiastically to be included in our village Open Garden weekend this summer.

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Having spent countless hours shifting tons of soil and rock, making new beds, sweating, barrowing loads and loads of compost, pruning, planting, weeding and raking, oh, and did I say sweating? over the past two summers, I didn’t think it would be too much of a trial to be included in our village’s biennial celebration of rural life.

I seemed to remember a few extra cars parked down the hill last time, mostly, in my imagination, Morris Minors driven by friends of Miss Marple...

How hard could it be to have a few neighbours wandering over to have a nose round the borders and inspect the compost heaps?

We’re not expert gardeners but we do have the most spectacular view over open countryside, so that at least is guaranteed to please the punters and distract them from all the imperfections.

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And there’s tea and cakes in the village hall afterwards to cheer them up if all else fails.

To my horror I now find that we can expect up to 1,000, that’s one thousand, people over the weekend.

People who have made a special trip to see, and appraise, our garden. Tramping up the paths and trampling on the grass.

People who know Latin names and understand about microclimates and propagation. And who have paid. (All proceeds to the Air Ambulance).

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And all the other Open Gardeners are seasoned and experienced, know the score and have probably been out on their hands and knees all winter. No pressure then.

I’ve made a start on the spring weeding but fruit tree pruning is behind schedule and although the snowdrops are fantastic they’ll be long gone by the summer; weeds are coming up overnight.

Pheasants, almost tame, and so beautiful as they strut round the garden, have suddenly become merely a menace to buds and flowers.

On top of all that, the wheelbarrow has died, just when I needed it most. Why now? Seems suspicious. Miss Marple might have some thoughts on that.

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I’ll keep you up to speed on my campaign to get the garden in some sort of shape for June 6. Any hints from gardeners who’ve done this kind of thing before? Apart from keep your hands down next time?

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