Tuesday, 19 April 2011

A Highly Organised Veg Patch

May's coming up quickly and that signals Artist's Open House's in Brighton. We've bought various bits of artwork over the years from local makers but now I find the main excitement to be having a jolly good snoop around other people's houses. 'Socktowers' lies in a designated 'Artists Area' and we have to be careful to keep our front door closed on May weekends.  I once left my door open whilst bringing the shopping in from the car only to find that a load of Open House viewers had trooped in after me and were milling around in my hall offering to buy my photographs I have framed on the wall!

The 'Open' idea has recently extended to Brighton gardens too - not the ones that have been primped,  primed and perfected ready for the National Garden Scheme (although those are of great interest and the Socks will be making a point of visiting more of them this year) - no, these are just small, town, gardens that owners feel have enough of interest to warrant the small viewing payment which goes to local charities.  I've visited some which were interesting and others which made me feel less charitable and I wondered what on earth they felt their garden had to offer anyone other than a lawn and some shrubs bunged in around it. Not that there is anything wrong with having the latter other than there isn't really anything to view.

Cambridge Gage
So last weekend a planned trip to see Michelle Wheeler's 'Open Veg Patch'  (part of  the community events for  'Food Week' in the village of Milford-on-Sea) left the Socks wondering what to expect.  We arrived after lunch in the company of the 'Highly Organised' Helen Reeley with her notepad and pen at the ready to jot down all her inspirations - I think there were quite a few of them! As we walked past the front garden which was very much 'under development' the Sock immediately had 'fan trained plum' envy! This was exactly what we had wanted for this year but left too late to buy - Michelle had put up a poster naming and describing the plum 'Cambridge gage' and it is now a definite purchase for us next autumn. Result already! This was just the kind of information I wanted and we hadn't even got to the Veg Patch yet!

Round the back of the house to view the garden - a very decent size but not 'Monty Don style' huge. Very much a garden we could relate to and combining many of the elements we would like to have if we ever get to move somewhere bigger.  Michelle has done much of the design and work over the last year and it divides into four areas a patio with table (and more importantly Michelle's Mum's very good homemade cakes), family/lawn area with decent sized garage and chic shed,  veg and greenhouse area and then a luxury pad and run at the back for some very lucky chickens!

Veg and Visitors

As Michelle was busy with a constant stream of visitors who were obviously very keen and asking lots of questions, Helen and I took the opportunity to have a thorough snout around.  The lawn borders weren't fully filled out yet but what was there was an interesting mix of edibles many of which had architectural (and perhaps a little Diacono) interest.

Szechuan pepper
somethingorother berry
These included a Szechuan pepper, another on my wishlist, (although seeing it 'in the flesh' it is a bit of a spikey 'berberissy' brute which might make it harder to place in my garden) and growing along the fence to the chicken run a 'somethingorother' berry.  This was really pretty and apparently the fruit are very tasty and I want one.  Had I been as highly organised as Helen I would have written the name of it down on a notepad but I'm sure someone will tell me what it was!

Mark Diacono's influence was felt elsewhere as his and some other usual suspects' books were laid out on a table. The Bedsock was rather taken with Alys Fowler's 'Thrifty Gardener' and no collection can be complete without the lovely Landscape Man's 'Making a Garden' as displayed to you here by my glamorous assistant the 'highly organised' Helen.

Although I am always going to see my garden as predominantly filled with the colours and texture of flowers there were certainly plenty of ideas and inspiration for edibles that we could take from Michelle's and incorporate in our own.  There is a rumour I was sneaking around the back of the greenhouse to photograph the one untidy area - the truth is I was checking out the slimline waterbutt with a view as to whether I could squeeze one in behind my own greenhouse.

Mich - A Portrait of a Lady with Secateurs

The final visitors disappeared, the Open Garden closed and we enjoyed a chat and glass of wine with Michelle who was no doubt exhausted but I would imagine very happy with both the visitor numbers and their genuine interest in her garden.  For myself and the Bedsock it was not just the Veg Patch but a chance to meet up again with some fellow tweeters and learn more about them too.  A thoroughly enjoyable experience and perhaps one that other garden bloggers and tweeters might think about doing - all you need is a garden, some cake and the confidence that people aren't looking to see perfection but a chat, a few new ideas and something they can relate to.


Ms B said...

Please come visit my garden any time; I will provide cake!

Would you like to visit the lottie too?

MarkD said...

Were there any cakes, and if so what were they like?

Arabella Sock said...

There were cakes and even a few left by the time we arrived although very few after we departed.

I had a cheese scone which was a good one, the Bedsock had a sausage roll which he enjoyed and Helen had a fairy cake and organised some sausage rolls into her handbag for laters! We did leave a monetary contribution for them obviously!

Yolanda Elizabet Heuzen said...

How lovely to see Michelle's garden at last albeit via your Sock's eyes. Good idea visiting other bloggers/tweeters gardens. When are you coming to see mine? I have cake. And wine. Nibbles too, tea even, or coffee so there's no excuse not to come.

great big bloomers said...

you went right past the heucheraholics growing patch,and the kettle was on!!!!