Unusual sight: PPI Blogger in a garden
Last weekend the weather here was absolutely beautiful, which was good news for the local celebration known as the Beeston and Chilwell Garden Trail.
This is one of my favourite events of the year, though I don’t always manage to attend.
In the interests of impartiality, I’m trying to think of possible reasons not to like the Trail, and finding it difficult. “It’s a bit middle-class” and “it must be a lot of work for the proprietors and organisers” – can’t come up with any others.
For anyone who isn’t familiar with the concept: people in an area open up their gardens to be viewed over two afternoons. That’s basically it.
The punter rolls up at the garden of their choice (there are posters around the town to give them a starter address) and pays a standard fee, which covers this one and as many other gardens as they wish. They’re given a list and map. The proceeds are divided between charities supported by the garden proprietors.
Each year there are a few new gardens, but you can also revisit old favourites. Some also have years off, so this year I didn’t get to view the fantastic garden that is sober Japanese at the front, and a riot of statues, fairies, pets’ graves and teddy bear’s picnic at the back. Maybe next year. But the amazing railway and model village were still there, as was the neat corner plot with lawn and flowers – and fish population of various sizes in the pond round the back. I also saw a magnificent playhouse, which had everything for the discerning child – from a row of mugs on hooks, to a bed reached by climbing a ladder, to two light sabres laid out ready for use.
Nor is this only a treat for eyes and nose. The Trail is getting more ambitious, and several gardens now have mini-concerts laid on. Many have sales, not only of plants (as you might expect) but of books, homemade cards, old magazines or craft work. Several also provide games and activities for children.
And many do afternoon tea. It’s about as nice as it gets, sitting looking at the beautiful results of someone else’s ingenuity, while sipping a cup of tea and munching a cream or cheese scone. In aid of charity!
All ages are catered for – well, all right, I didn’t see many teenagers, but certainly both old and pushchair-young. You meet friends as you go, or indeed arrange to go round with them.
I’m sure lots of sensible people go on the Trail to get ideas for plants, designs and garden furniture/décor. Not me, though. Anyone who’s seen our garden will know that sweeping up hedge trimmings for my husband is about as green-fingered as I get. I do not compete with the magnificent people who provide these places for my delectation, and so I do not need to be jealous of their skill and achievement. No, I just love to look in awe at the beauty, the creativity, the variety. The gardens with huge magnificent trees and lawns. The smaller ones with ingenious nooks and crannies. The summer-houses and playhouses. The water features and rockeries and statuary. (Models apparently made out of scrap metal are in at the moment, and decking seems to be out.)
Each one is an expression of its owner. It’s like snooping guiltlessly round someone’s house, with the added joy of the natural, seasonal and God-given nature of plants (and some wildlife).
Personally, I’m still puzzled that anyone thinks the British weather allows sitting outdoors for more than a few days in the year, but many of these brave people disagree.
Most of the owners plainly spend a huge amount of time both gardening and enjoying the garden, setting up little nooks with chairs all over the place to presumably catch the sun at different times of day or year, or to move from the spring to the autumn display.
The cream scones may not be good for me, but I think otherwise the Garden Trail is salutary as well as enjoyable. It reminds me, as someone who aspires to be an artist with words, and who normally takes very little trouble about my surroundings, how many other ways there are than mine to be creative.
An amateur water-colour – a curved path leading over a water feature to a magnificent border – a moist coffee-and-walnut cake – the sound of guitars and singers on a June lawn – even a thoughtfully-decorated and furnished sitting-room – these are all items of beauty. Some may be more ephemeral than others, but all give delight, and thus glorify God.
This post is a day earlier than usual because I am going on holiday. There will therefore be a hiatus until the blog resumes, I hope, on 6th July
Love from the PPI Blogger