The christening of a great nephew was a perfect excuse for a return visit to Berkshire. A very different garden to Welford Park which I visited a few weeks ago, and although Oak Cottage in Finchampstead does not have quite the show of snowdrops it does however illustrate the diversity of gardens that are open for the NGS.
Originally combined to open with another garden, this year garden owner Liz had to go solo.
The Garden Gate is Open, and it must be the first electronically operated gate that I have encountered on my garden visits! There will be surely lots of inquisitive people wanting to see what is behind this gate!
Sure enough there were! The little garden was packed. I wondered if perhaps this was a case where timed entrance tickets might be needed.
And that reminds me of the story of Horace Walpole, who in the mid 18th Century was so overwhelmed with visitors at his Gothic Castle Strawberry Hill, that he was forced to issue a system of pre-booked tickets. He also implemented a long list of rules, one being absolutely no children. No rules here thankfully and several children, who of course go free in an NGS garden.
Liz’a partner had to be away on business and hats off to her for calmly coping on her own. She asked me to take photographs of the crowd as proof that she was not having an idle afternoon.
The visitors appeared to be enjoying themselves, relaxed and in no hurry to leave. Tea was served in doors and the local W.I. had rung ahead to book tea for 30 of their members.
In spite of the visitors I did manage to get a chance to photograph. This was Liz’s third year of opening the garden and she told me that before she had even opened for the first time, her much treasured fountain was stolen. “Hence the need for the gate ” she explained.
You would think that the theft might put her off the whole idea of inviting strangers into her garden; however, with a replacement installed and completely undeterred, she opened her garden. That first year less than 20 visitors showed up. Word must have got out!
Snowdrops were in abundance, not spread out in a carpet but dotted about in good strong clumps; they were growing everywhere; cheerfully in the borders lighting up a shady area.
Or growing amongst other plants such as the emerging spring crocus.
They were also growing close by the studio
and even in pots:
There were lots of different varieties, many of which were labelled; ‘Mrs Thompson’ looked charming, her head suspended like a large parasol:
Snow drops had also crept into the fenced-off wild flower garden. At its best in the summer, this area was looking a little dormant.
However there were crocus in flower and the engaging little heads of Iris reticulata poking through the crisp layers of oak leaves:
These leaves had fallen from the large tree at the at the end of the garden. It is presumably from this tree that the cottage gained its name. The shape looks similar to a hand; a thumb with an extra digit or two, gloved in ivy.
There is a woodland feel to this garden and various types of hellebores appear happy in their surroundings.
they complement the snowdrops, either growing singly:
Or in colourful clumps.
It is always so pleasing to find a new plant and I had never come across chrysoplenium macrophyllum from China. It looks to be a pretty ground cover, content in the shade.
I was quite surprised to see a small bunch of Lilies of the Valley poking through. Spring really must be on the way.
There was a touch of everything in this garden; height in the form of obelisks for clematis.
Neat paths lined with step over apples.
and even a collection of Bonsai including this small beech. Liz and her partner have busy working schedules and what better way to help ease the gardening load by installing an automatic watering system.
There was even a good crop of lemons.
Finally the exotic mixture of greenery softens the hard landscape in the front area.
A small private garden in a residential area, its popularity demonstrates the need to open more gardens in Winter.