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Open Garden Scheme

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  • #256832

    I’m considering getting involved in the Open Garden Scheme, but would like to know more from people who have done it. Was it worth it for you? What sort of numbers of people did you get through? Would you do it again? Did people go inside your house? Any other details or comments on the process or any other aspect very welcome!

    #522893
    bluezbandit
    Member

    I haven’t had one myself but have visited quite a few and going inside people’s homes wasn’t part of the deal. Just their beautiful gardens.

    #522894
    Bel
    Member

    Hi BV. We were in the Open Garden scheme the year before last. I’m tired just thinking about it! Every spare minute in the months leading up to the open garden was spent in the garden. Despite scorching hot days on both the days we were open, we were over-run with visitors. The minute the gates opened, people started coming through, and we had to turn them away after the gates closed. I cooked some cakes, scones etc for people to eat and provided tea/coffee/water etc on tables outside under the shade (we asked for a small donation for the cakes etc). We spent so much time refilling water coolers due to the hot weather. I had to call my mum and sister in to look after the kids on the second day as we totally underestimated how much of our time it would take to show people around and field their questions. It was a blast, but so very tiring. Mainly because we were totally unprepared. Some things that would have made it easier:

    – helpers, lots of them. We really needed someone to take the money at the gate, someone to look after the kids, someone to look after refreshments and some extras to help talk to people so we could have a break every so often (we didn’t get a chance to eat or sit down all day and the kids were totally neglected)

    – signs, signs and more signs. Anticipate every question imaginable and put some signs up to show people around your garden when you cannot be everywhere at once. People wanted to know what was growing, how it was growing, how we watered/fertilised/weeded/got rid of bugs/breeds of chooks etc etc etc

    Unfortunately you can’t predict the weather and although you can ask for a rough date, ultimately you get what you’re given. The hot weather when we were open nearly killed us (and the garden). We had lace curtains over the whole garden to keep things from keeling over. They provided a point of interest at least.

    We didn’t let people inside and nobody asked to come inside. We had our work cut out for us just keeping people happy outside. People thought we were experts – it felt like being on Gardening Australia or something like that – on that Q & A segment!

    On the up side, we met some great people and had a blast. We haven’t done it again since because we don’t have the time to spend in the garden getting it up to scratch again. We will do it again one day, but we’ll be much better prepared. I’m sure there’s more I can tell you, but will think about it some more. Feel free to give me a call or email me and I’ll chat to you then 🙂

    #522895

    Thanks Bel, I was hoping you’d answer. What was the selection process like? I think you have someone come & look at your garden to see if you’re worthy ( 😛 for want of a better term!). Did they offer any suggestions? What was the time frame from enquiry to selection person to open? I’m considering it for next year as there is a lot I still want to do here.

    #522896
    Bel
    Member

    The selection process wasn’t hard at all. We had to send in a written application with a few photos initially. Then someone came around to look at the garden. It probably was about 12 months til our garden opened. I’m so glad we weren’t open this year – our veggie garden was a disaster!! It does put a lot of pressure on you to spend all your spare time getting the garden ready. And if something in the garden doesn’t go according to plan or the weather is bad, or something eats all your veggies, then it becomes very stressful. We enjoyed the process immensely, however we realise it’s an added pressure and stress we just don’t need at the moment. And we don’t want to rely on others to help us do it again. Something we’ll put off for a few more years when the kids are bit bigger and more self-reliant methinks. They didn’t really give us any suggestions or pointers. But they came on the day and said, ‘oh, you should’ve done this’ or ‘that would be helpful’. They assumed we’d do it again, but we haven’t as yet…

    #522897

    How many people went through your place, Bel?

    #522898
    Bel
    Member

    I can’t remember the exact numbers now, I think it was about 400 from memory. Hate to think how many people would have come if the weather wasn’t so hot. I think the temperature for both days were 39 and 42 respectively…..

    #522899

    Do you have pictures of how your garden looked at that time? I was going to come that day too, but wimped out due to the heat!

    #522900
    Bel
    Member

    Hi BV. I didn’t take any photos on the actual day because we were so busy, unfortunately. I started the thread below at about the time we had the open. You can see in 1 picture where he had curtains over the tomatoes. On the day, nearly all the beds were covered in curtains. I met a lovely man who makes curtains for a living – he came back a few days later with some curtain off-cuts which he gave me for the garden – very kind of him! When I look back now, I can see that the garden has grown immensely. I was worried then that we wouldn’t have enough to show people, but I was wrong. People were really interested in how they could grow veggies themselves. Things like the sweet potato and rhubarb gathered a lot of interest – people wanted to know the varities, how I grew them etc. People asked a lot about how we watered, mulched, fertilised, planted (seed/seedling etc). They came with their own ‘why does my lemon tree have yellow leaves?’ type of questions. They asked if it took a lot of our time, and were disappointed when we said, ‘yes, a lot!’. We had offers of seeds/seedlings/tree cuttings from many people and I really enjoyed meeting new people with similar interests. A few people from the rare fruit society came and I had a good chat with them about their garden. It was a great weekend, just massively overwhelming because we weren’t adequately prepared.

    Bel’s open garden thread

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