Well actually today isn’t that good which is why I’m sitting at the computer instead of doing useful things in the garden. Today’s weather is an easterly wind and spiteful heavy showers – tough on the tenderish things I’ve being acclimatising to life at 1200 feet in the Black Mountains over the past few weeks, lulled by the warm sunshine in April into thinking that Spring had arrived.

Our house martins know better. They arrived last week from their winter hols – weeks later than usual.

Anyway, Sunday 10th May was a very good day – our first public opening for the National Garden Scheme this year.  We have already had one gardening group last week in a bitterly cold, howling gale.  They enjoyed the visit none-the-less.  Hardy souls, gardeners.

On Sunday the weather was kind to us – cool to start but warming up as the day went on.  And fortunately no rain. One hundred and twenty five people came to see the garden.  And lovely people they were too.  We had some most interesting conversations about gardening matters and they were appreciative of the tea and cake (and also the garden).

I’m always too busy on open days to remember to take photos actually on the day, but here are some I have taken over the last couple of days to illustrate what visitors commented on and asked questions about.

They liked the tulips.

 

China Pink tulips with forget-me-nots

China Pink tulips with forget-me-nots

Natalie's favourite combination - tulip Doll's minuet with Lysimachia 'firecracker'

Natalie’s favourite combination – tulip Doll’s minuet with Lysimachia ‘firecracker’

White triumphator

White triumphator

Appledoorn

Appeldoorn

tulip Brown sugar

tulip Brown sugar

the front cover of the Gwent NGS leaflet

the front cover of the Gwent NGS leaflet

Well this photo is what this corner of the garden looks like this year.  The photo on the leaflet is 2014 planting which I had decided hadn’t worked as well as I had hoped. Visitors liked it this year – in fact one was taking a photo so that he could paint the big blousy orange tulips. More of butler sinks – featured in this pic- later.

And they liked my potting shed.  So do I.

work in progress in the potting shed

work in progress in the potting shed

They liked the Welsh poppies- those I had in pots were the first plants to be sold out. Note to self for next year – make sure I have more in pots.

Welsh poppies pop up everywhere in our garden

Welsh poppies pop up everywhere in our garden

Apparently some people like only the yellow ones and others crave the orange ones.   I have both and love them both.  So exciting waiting to see what colour it’s going to be when one pops up somewhere interesting…

They liked the forget-me-nots growing with the Crimson-flowered broad beans.  “Did I plan it like that or did it just happen?’ I took the credit for inspired design…

Forget-me-not and Crimson-flowered broad bean combo

Forget-me-not and Crimson-flowered broad bean combo

They liked the runner bean tunnel.  Runner beans shivering in cold frame until the end of the month.

runner bean tunnel made with our hazel sticks

runner bean tunnel made with our hazel sticks

They asked questions about …the hops.  ‘Are they grown for decoration?’  Fair enough question but no, they are grown to make beer.

Hops just starting to climb their strings (in background)

Hops just starting to climb their strings (in background)

“Excuse our ignorance, but what is the mass of lovely flowers which looks like dandelions?’

actually, they are dandelions

actually, they are dandelions

And they are lovely.  And a bonus point is that the seed heads are a food for goldfinches.  My excuse for allowing them to flourish.

‘What is that plant and can I have some?’

Comfrey with a 'health warning'

Comfrey with a ‘health warning’

This very efficient creeping comfrey (which I can never remember the name of) does a brilliant job of scrambling around and quickly covering a dry bank – or anywhere really.  Which is why I was very happy to dig some up and give it away but with a warning that it is a thug and will swamp your precious things if you don’t keep it under control.  And the bees and hover-flies love it.

‘Does using copper around your veg beds really work?’

copper pipe around beds and copper rings awaiting courgette plants

copper pipe around beds and copper rings awaiting courgette plants

Answer, most emphatically ‘yes’.  We use it in a combination with nematodes to tackle the slugs in the soil.  Copper stops them marching in from elsewhere.

‘What’s that plant growing alongside the peas?’

Crimson clover alongside the peas

Crimson clover alongside the peas

Answer ‘crimson clover’.  It’s a green manure (nitrogen-fixing) and I sowed it in this bed as a bit of an experiment to cover the soil over the winter, but with such pretty flowers who could bear to dig it all in?  Will definitely be growing it again just for the flowers.

It’s always touch and go before an Open Day if things will actually be in flower/looking there best.  Here’s a few photos of things which made it and some which didn’t quite.

bluebells just made it

bluebells just made it

Lovely on the river bank apparently but I haven’t found the time to take a walk down there to see for myself.

clematis just coming into flower

clematis just coming into flower

Others are still to come.

carrots just showing.  Honest.

carrots just showing. Honest.

 

Parsley not germinated yet

Parsley not germinated yet

As you can see from this photo and others ‘re-use and re-cycle’ is very much the basis of our philosophy on life here especially in the garden.  A friend said to me recently that if it was in the house it would be called ‘shabby chic’ and Country Living feature writers would be queuing up at my door..

A few more photos of the kind of re-cycled things we use in the garden.

Old tin baths ad barrel water butts

Old tin baths ad barrel water butts

Yet another galvanised watering can - you can't have too many

Yet another galvanised watering can – you can’t have too many

re-cycled pots

re-cycled pots

Just off to collect another butler’s sink from a neighbour who was going to take it to the tip.  More than happy to take it off his hands.  Thinking of planting it up with nasturtiums for the summer.  Should look good for our next Open Day in July.

And yesterday was a good day too.  For drying the tablecloths from our Sunday tearooms…

tablecloths on the washing line

tablecloths on the washing line

p.s. A very big thank you to friends and family who helped on Sunday, Caroline for providing lovely plants for sale and the good ladies (and one gent) from the Llanthony & District Garden Club for providing once again excellent teas and cakes.  We couldn’t do it without them.