by Steve Bustin (Belton Close) from The Round Hill Reporter September 2006
The experience of opening my garden for the first time
Opening your garden sounds simple. You unlatch the gate, welcome people with a smile, perhaps offer them tea as they browse your herbaceous beds and patio. Needless to say, it's not quite like that, although maybe the hard work it took has more to do with us being, frankly, a bit fussy about our garden, and wanting to make sure it looked as good as possible on the day.
Eighteen months ago, we had never gardened. The garden is brand new (it's in an in-fill development, Belton Close), and when we moved in, it was little more than a dozen badly chosen shrubs, a scrappy lawn and acres of bark chippings.
Thanks to the printed and TV guidance of Monty, Alan and the rest, this summer we started to reap the rewards of our work. The vegetable bed is producing well. The long border is full of colour.
The greenhouse is a godsend, and we have way too many patio pots.
Opening the garden was a challenge to ourselves (to get it ready in time) and (to be honest) a chance to show off a bit. It was lovely to meet neighbours, including one lady who remembers the market garden, McCullums, that was on the Belton Close site until the 1960s. We received invaluable gardening advice from some of Round Hill's green-fingered experts, and made new friends.
Should you do it?
Definitely. If you decide to open your garden, a few pointers.
Firstly, get some help in. People will inevitably have questions about the garden, and you can't be welcoming people at the gate as well as discussing your dahlias.
Secondly, don't stress about how it looks - people aren't expecting Kew Gardens, and are incredibly appreciative that you're sharing your patch of green [or patch of patio).
Thirdly, relax and enjoy it - we had a fantastic afternoon and are hoping there'll be an Open Gardens afternoon next year.
Note: we had about 50 visitors, and raised £40 from teas and plant sales which went to the Round Hill Society tree-planting fund. Thanks to those who helped out, and those who visited!