I always seem to be a year behind when writing this page so it is not always easy to remember what has been going on! 2016 was a very busy summer for garden visitors. We had another very successful day for our main NGS day in June. We opened on a Saturday for the first time this year to allow the Brighstone Scouts, who always provide wonderful teas and cakes for us, to join in with the Queen's Birthday Celebrations on the Sunday. it worked very well, we had a few less people, but that made for a much pleasanter and less frantic afternoon, than the 400 plus people of 2015.
For 2017 we have gone back to a Sunday opening (June 18th, which is Father's Day this year).
Group visits took place throughout June and July, and I entertained groups ranging from a couple of people, to large groups of 30-40. I had so many lovely comments from so many lovely people, that it makes all the hard work worthwhile. One delightful lady said it was the best private garden she had ever visited, and the highlight of their trip to the Island.
We had people from Germany, Holland and Slovenia, along with loyal Islanders coming for a second or third group visit. The weather was mostly kind, and I think we only cancelled one group due to very bad weather.
We have not been making too many changes to the garden. The biggest of these has been the removal of some of the dying Leylandii hedge bordering the garden and the road. It was inherited, and we have been removing it bit by bit over the last couple of winters, but still have a large section to go. We have replaced with Beech, after trying one side of the gate with Yew, which unfortunately became brown and scorched by salt winds after a heavy storm. The Yew have ben replanted in the fields as freestanding trees and are now growing away nicely. I am looking forward to the Beech growing and screening us from the road again.
The other biggest change in the garden has been the removal of the rather unsightly fence around the Rose Cutting Garden, with iron edging now in place, and long narrow beds with grass in between. The main reason for the change was to cut maintenance time, as it was a really difficult area to keep weed free before. Now I can more easily mulch the beds with manure and we can mow the paths between. Aside from the easier maintenance, it looks so much tidier, the only downside being that now the hens have free access and love moving the manure around to get to worms, in the process moving my carefully written rose labels all over the place! I have put some rabbit guards on the smaller roses, but will need to put more in place before the spring.
Smaller changes have been sorting out the Dahlia beds, to group them with more pleasing coloured partners. Also the removal, many years overdue (thank you Becky!) of an enormous yellow Choisya ternata 'Sundance', again inherited. This was such a large yellow blob, visible from most of the windows, and definitely not my favourite plant! It's removal has opened up space for more Camellias, Snowdrops and Cyclamen in the woodland conditions under several large Holly and Bay bushes that screen us from the footpath and the worst of the South Westerleys.
Other than that, the constant editing of the garden goes on; a plant that isn't performing gets planted somewhere else, and beds are replanted in a constant effort to make things more interesting.
And now I am looking forward to 2017!