We open normally every Sunday afternoon in June, July and August, and take visits in afternoons and evenings from parties of 10 or more from May to September, inclusive. So why, you may wonder, do we have a group visiting the garden today, in April?
Well, basically because Charles said ‘do it’ and offered to do the meeting and greeting. And then the staying around, because we have never yet ever left parties without someone there for them should they need. And besides – they might want to buy a book. (yey!) (They didn’t, not one. CH)
But earlier in the year I had had to refuse to have a guide from a touring company visit to do a ‘reec’ in the middle on winter. This is part of the response I got to that (there were two long emails) :
“You are the first garden owner ever! who has refused me to pre visit a garden. Sad. I have been doing this job for over 10 years now and have been around the country (England) for a bit! a long bit.
For that reason you (and your garden) will always remain in my memory, for the wrong reason unfortunately
….And yes, THE GARDEN WORLD IS SMALL AND PEOPLE TEND TO KNOW EACH OTHER (page 38 in the bad tempered gardener), I belong to the garden world as well, because I am foremost a trained gardener..
would you at least be so kind to give me some directions, so that when I come in February, I can at least check where you are ( I will have to find Veddw sitting in a large coach when visiting in May and getting lost with 40 people sitting behind you is not a lot of fun). and check where the coach could park and perhaps have a distant glimpse towards your garden wall…..” (as written – the directions are on this website, of course.)
So – why am I so difficult?
Firstly, there are obviously (to me obviously) times when it is a problem to have someone visit. You might possibly have another exciting commitment. You might have people working in the garden and making a muddy mess. There may be illness, bereavement or your partner may just have left you for a teen aged bimbo and you are in no state to cope with anything. You may, oddly, not wish to tell some stranger about these things. (This last wasn’t the reason, but – hey – who knows?! He’s pretty cool.)
Sometimes we have been away at the time someone wished to visit, and to let them visit when we’re not here involves getting someone to unlock and relock the gates and the house (loo) for them, at a minimum. Ideally to also do some of the prep below.
People might have the imagination and politeness to accept a ‘not convenient’ without throwing a hissy fit.
Then there’s the business involved in actually having someone visit the garden. I imagine that most people make allowances for the fact that a garden looks different in winter, but generally they do approach us as if the garden is just ‘there’, looking fine and presentable at all times. Sadly, this is not the case. A garden demands as much housework as the house does, and would you want to ask a paying guest into your house without a clean and tidy?
So cleaning and tidying it is. In today’s instance, an attempt to clear up winter debris. There are a lot of paths to clear, Charles tells me. (his job) It took him several days in between the deluges. You’ll generally also have to mow to get the grass respectable and that’s not easy midwinter. You hope the mower will work and not make more mess than it’s worth.
On the day or the day before we have to clear and maybe black up the pools, mend and get the electricity driven water things functioning; find and put out the signs to make sure people can find us; put out books for sale and sort out the cash box and float. These days too, if we’re up to it, we have to set up the connection of smart phone and machine to take card payments, just in case. (I bottled out of that today. It’s tech terror)
And you need to clean the bathroom and conservatory. Always. And when they’ve gone you need to check all the gates are closed. (rabbits…)
And then you have to undo things and put stuff away again..
Sometimes, people just turn up. We have bathrooms and a bedroom on the ground floor, so you can imagine how disconcerting it is looking up and seeing someone wandering round the garden. My first impulse is to hide, especially if I’m not dressed….
I know I sound a total misery and you’re all thinking how grateful I should be to be having paying visitors, helping to keep the garden going. And I am, truly. The garden and us would be in great trouble without the help that this is. But I thought it would be useful to be able to let people know why we don’t say a totally welcoming ‘yes!’ when they want to visit outside of our opening times.
Apart from anything else it will be useful to put in front of Charles when he tells me to say ‘yes’, totally forgetting that it will involve anything but meeting and greeting….