Three summers down the line, and our Princess Diana Memorial Garden continues to surprise and delight. For the first couple of years, the garden’s appeal was primarily to do with the landscaping. This year, with colours and shapes expanding and melding at an astonishing rate, its appeal has become much more about the planting.
We mulched hard in the spring, getting through a dozen sacks of the stuff, and thereby absolving ourselves from a hell of a lot of weeding. We were also lavish with the blood, fish and bone; sometimes a little too lavish, causing some disproportionate growth and unsightly legginess. But it’s all part of the learning curve, and the triumphs well outweigh the disasters.
Last Sunday, we opened the PDMG to the public, as part of the village’s Open Gardens Day. This was the cause of a certain amount of performance anxiety earlier in the week, as it seemed as though the garden was caught in a period of transition; a lot of the good stuff had peaked, while not enough of the newer stuff was coming through. However – and following sustained activity on Thursday evening, all day Friday (we took the day off), much of Saturday, and several hours on Sunday morning – we had succeeded in turning the place round.
This was massively helped by the spectacular eruption of the multi-headed white roses known as Rambling Rector, which reached their absolute peak on Sunday. As in the previous two years, these were the most asked about feature in the garden – and as in the previous two years, it was all we could do not to revert to type, and blurt out our preferred semi-private name: Rumbling Rectum. Such sauce!
The alliums also got a lot of attention this year. I think they’ve become quite trendy. But we were early adopters. (Or rather, our garden designer was.)
Even during Sunday afternoon itself, I couldn’t help whipping the secateurs out, and having a couple of quick extra dead-heading sessions on the geraniums. (Or do I mean pelargoniums?) At this time of year, you could spend your entire day doing nothing but dead-heading geraniums, and I did become a little obsessed at times – even seeing the dead-heads behind my eyelids, every time I blinked. Evil! Evil! Snip! Maim! Kill!
Luckily, we had our ever-obliging house guest Slam to help us, and to mediate in times of trial. Unlike most house guests, Slam always leaves the place better than he finds it… and for that, we love him like a brother. (The way to our hearts is through our cleaning products.)
Chig also turned up unexpectedly – tipped off by a mention of Open Gardens Day in my comments box, impressively enough – on his way back from reporting on a somewhat underwhelming Leicester Pride for Gay Times. This all caused great confusion amongst some of the well-meaning Nice Ladies from outside the village, who clearly didn’t know which of “the boys” was supposed to be with whom. (It didn’t help when I gave them long explanations of the history of the garden, entirely in the first person plural, with my hand casually draped over the back of Chig’s chair. The inclusive smiles and nods he got!)
After 6pm, when the gardens shut, K and I hosted the Unofficial After Party, dispensing gallons of chilled rosé to exhibitors and liggers alike. I was also introduced to J.S., a long-standing reader of the blog, who will not be expecting to find herself mentioned. (Everybody say hello to J.S.!) Oh, we’re quite the horticultural socialites these days, I think you’ll find.
To celebrate our towering achievement, here’s a photographic tableau of the PDMG as it looked last Sunday, and very early on Monday morning. Those with fast connections may care to click on the thumbnails to enlarge. Please also note that these have been lovingly hand-coded. Flickr Schmickr! You can’t beat the personal touch!
Update: I’ve fixed those pesky “file not found” errors. My bad, as the cool people used to say.