All Things Gardening forum: Open Gardens for Charity

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Name: John
St.Osyth Nr Clacton on Sea. E
Region: United Kingdom Hybridizer Garden Ideas: Master Level Ferns Butterflies Salvias
Hostas Heucheras Clematis Birds Bee Lover Daylilies
Jul 29, 2014 7:52 AM CST
As I have never seen it mentioned. (It might be me not looking in the right place), do you have open gardens for charity like we do over here in the UK? It's a brilliant way to meet people with the same interests and at the same time make money for you favourite charity. We have opened our garden now for around 26 years, every year except for the last one, when health problems stopped me. When we lived in London, we had a fairly large garden, probably not large in comparison with some of yours over there. It was approximately 180 feet by 50 feet. That though was considered quite big for the east end of London. It gave me room for four medium sized greenhouses to grow and over winter my fuchsias in, and plenty of room to display them in the summer. My garden there consisted of rooms, which were reached by walking through archways covered with trailing fuchsias. Each room was different such as Mediterranean, Japanese and English garden. Finally through the last arch led to the greenhouse area.
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In 2007, we decided we would like to spend our last years living by the seaside, and moved to St. Osyth. A small village about 5 miles from the seaside town of Clacton on Sea. St.Osyth does have it's own beach about a mile down the lanes from our bungalow. It also has 3 caravan and chalet camps down by the beach, so becomes very busy at the holiday season. ( I believe you call it vacation. Sorry if I speak a foreign language). Hilarious! The garden here is small only 50 feet by 50 feet. So it was quite a change and a challenge to stock it. I decided because it was a blank canvas to grow a garden that I have always wanted, a tropical one. Living by the sea, we don't get too many frosts, although we have been trapped by snow in the village for a couple of days one year. I found that many of the so called tropical plants especially palms were not as tender as you would suppose, and when you remember that many of the places they come from, although very hot during the day, are in fact extremely cold, indeed frosty at night. There are also many plants, that look tropical, that are quite hardy. Of course some of the plants in the garden do need winter protection, along with my fuchsias. For these I use the car port, one end of which is completely filled in, and the other is made winter proof quite easily by putting up shower curtains on curtain wires round the top, and although not heated, it never seems to fall below 40F. even on the coldest nights.
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Opening the garden to the public, although hard work, is great fun, and I challenge anyone who doesn't enjoy being told their garden is wonderful. Family and friends help on the day, leaving me to chat with the visitors. Although she is disabled, my wife Barbara helps by selling plants, It depends on many factors on how many people visit us on the days. It may range from 20 or 30 on a wet day. (Even when it rains there are always a few brave souls), to two weekends when we were in London, and nearly 700 came. At the end of the day you fall into a chair, and I promise you, you have no trouble sleeping that night. Over the years we have made any thousands of pounds for charity. How long we can keep going I don't know, but I will keep enjoying it until the day I realise I can do it no more.
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