Secrets you can steal from your neighbour’s garden…
Etiquette is tricky in the middle-sized world when it comes to what you ‘see’ in a neighbour’s garden. If your neighbour has a habit of sun-bathing topless, then it’s invading their space to comment – when you meet them later – on their herbaceous border.
But a local Open Gardens event gives you a licence to snoop – in the nicest possible way. Because what grows well in their garden will probably also do well in yours.
A neighbourhood Open Gardens is always a bit of a festival. Our Faversham Open Gardens & Market Day is being held on 26th June 2016.
You don’t have to copy your neighbours, but it’s always useful to see what works and what doesn’t in gardens of a similar size and climate to yours. So what sort of tips will you be able to pick up?
How to garden on a steep slope…
Abel’s Acre is a community garden in Faversham.
It’s basically a large, steep rockery, with amazing colour throughout the year. Some of the Abel’s Acre gardeners will be on hand to answer questions about community gardening and how to garden on a steep slope.
When I looked up the RHS advice on gardening on a slope, the recommendations do look a little gloomy – hedera and eunonymus and other sturdy, worthy plants.
But Abel’s Acre is a riot of colour almost all year round. They plant a mixture of perennials and annuals: pelargoniums, geraniums, thyme and alyssum, which all thrive in hot, stony sites. There’s also lavender, carnations, and masses of California poppies which seed themselves into every pocket.
And there’s a smaller bank on the other side of the road, which they also maintain – and it’s full of irises
What to do with a forgotten corner…
Posy Gentles had a concrete yard at the side of the house, where washing, bins and general clutter lurked. When she discovered that the concrete was creating a damp problem in the kitchen, they decided to make the most of having to dig it all up.
They turned it into a brick courtyard. It’s an L shape around a typical long, thin kitchen extension. They divided the long part of the L into sections, so it now looks less long and thin. A
And the brick is much more attractive than the cracked concrete. The bench and chairs are on a brick circle, then there is a border in front of the bench, making a visual division between this area and the rest of the garden (although you can see through and walk round it).
You can do a lot for wildlife in a town garden…
You can create a ‘meadow garden’ in a small space
Julian and Amanda Mannering’s house was built in the 1980s.
Like many people with new-builds, the garden was left full of builders’ rubble – which made it perfect for a meadow garden.
‘The main thing about creating a meadow in a lawn is that you’ve got to reduce the quality of the soil,’ says Julian. ‘But our soil was never very good anyway.’
Just to make sure, however, they planted yellow rattle in with the meadow flowers from the start – it’s a plant that helps stop the original lawn grass taking over.
Garden visiting – and opening your own garden to other people – is a very positive thing to do: Lucie Neame opens her garden for the NGS, and says that both opening your garden and garden visiting is ‘therapeutic, both for visitor and for owner. People are full of joy at being invited into your personal space. With decent cuppa and a large slice of coffee and walnut in them they are British at their Best.’
There are 33 gardens open behind Faversham’s pretty historic streets, and a garden market with plants, collectables, vintage gardening tools and accessories and local food in the Market Place.
Tickets from the Fleur Visitor Centre, 15 Preston St or look out for our stall in the Market Place on Sat June 18th or Sun June 26th. £6 a head or 2 x £10
And we’d love you to spread the word – do tell people about Faversham’s Open Gardens or share this using the buttons below. Thank you!