Sunday, August 30, 2009


Well, we did it. We opened for the National Gardens Scheme for the third year running, we got a record 170 visitors, and we raised more than £600 (that's nearly $1,000 at today's exchange rate). I'm not sure of the exact figure - I'm too tired to count accurately.
There was only one problem - we ran out of cake. I had made 10 cakes, thinking that each cake would provide 10 slices, and not all visitors would want a piece. However, we got more visitors than I expected, and by 4.30pm, we were embarrassingly cakeless. In case you're interested, the cake varieties were carrot; lemon; coffee and walnut; classic Victoria sponge with fresh cream, and blueberry. My daughter had also made some very cute cupcakes, with pink sponge and flavoured with rosewater.
The weather wasn't great, either. There was a glimmer of sunshine as we opened, but then the temperature dropped steadily as the sky clouded over. By the time 6 o'clock came, I was quite happy to run inside and thaw out. Still, it didn't rain, which was the main thing.
So what were the highlights? I loved meeting Dawn from Little Green Fingers who came with her husband and was as charming in real life as she is online. I enjoyed being filmed for a Caribbean television programme about growing bananas in the UK. It was great to see so many friends turning out to support us. And I was thrilled to meet Penny Snell, who is chairman of the National Gardens Scheme, and who has been London county organiser for 28 years.

What would I do differently next year? Well, first, I'd make more cake. Second, I'd give my son a note of the name of the bamboo in our front garden. He was taking the money at the gate and apparently was questioned by several "bamboo-ologists", as he called them, about which variety it was.The visitors this year all seemed to be keen gardeners, which was great, asking loads of questions about the plants and how I coped with overwintering the more tender things.

The first view of the garden the visitors get

The Tea Team with some of the cakes on display