Secret Gardens 2011

Yesterday dawned bright & clear...not too warm, but the perfect day for our Secret Gardens event! 18 gardens around the Old Town opened ...and we raised over £1000 in total to be divided between 2 local charities (they change each year).

Everything was ready, you know, I adopt a 'little & often' approach to the gardening, which in such a small space keeps it under control. So we only had to do a few last minute cosmetic touches. Paul scrubbed the deck, while I went around checking that Alice hadn't left any - ahem - little surprises in the undergrowth!
This is the view from the back of the house...isn't the church clocktower wonderful? You can just see Paul scrubbing that deck...& Alice reclining on the bench (supervising..)

And the garden was all ready...

the space above is one we have recently cleared for Paul's exciting new a week or so's time, there will be a beehive in this spot! He has taken many courses (ongoing, because you never stop learning about bees) and a few weeks ago we bought the hive, complete with tenants, and all the equipment. The hive is, at present, in a village a few miles away...he went to inspect it on Saturday and was thrilled to find a new queen in residence, with plenty of eggs and bee grubs and even some honey already! They are almost ready to be this is a sight I shall be seeing a lot of in days and years to come...

my own personal astronaut...sorry...beekeeper!
Anyway, back to the garden!
I decorated the entrance passageway with some flags designed by the very wonderful Susan Branch , which are so apt for this occasion..

Our next door neighbours (both sides) were open as well, so there was plenty to see along our side of the square! This is the view everyone saw as they approached our gate...

and then the first visitors arrived - about 2.15 - and kept arriving all afternoon!

quite a strange feeling to have so many people we don't know (plus lots we DO) 'invading'! But it's great fun...we are both around to answer questions...lots of these, mainly about the mirrors we have on the back wall! I was asked many times how often I have to clean answer was 'once a year, the day before we open for Secret Gardens!!' This raised a big laugh!
Where was Alice you might wonder? Well, with all the different people in and out, plus the gate being open, it really isn't safe for her to be loose...also a bit distressing for her. So, with the house locked up (and blinds/curtains drawn too for safety) we made a feature of her...

She was quite safe inside, but proved a huge hit...especially with visiting children! She must have felt a bit bewildered...but it was much better this way.
The stream of visitors tailed off at around 5.30pm, and we could close the gates and relax. One set of neighbours invited us for wonderful peach champagne cocktails...and then another neighbour, who is also one of our best friends, was having a barbecue. So we walked around there and had a wonderful, relaxing evening of food, wine and laughter before collapsing into bed at 10pm! A wonderful day.

I hope you can see the video I posted... the first time I have tried it, so if it works there will be more!

I hope you had a fantastic last thing before I go....I was walking to The Coffee Tree this morning, when I saw this sweet sight. It is Paul's car roof by the is made of cloth, so must have been a wonderfully warm spot, like a hammock for the dear kitty!

Happy day to you xoxo


  1. oh what a glorious post! I'm not surprised your garden is so popular, it's gorgeous and I love that you have a view of the church. (can see why bell practice is so loud for you!)

    The video worked for me, so I hope you do post more :O)

    Ah, bees. I was watching To the Manor Born on Youtube last night, and saw the Bees & Bird episode, where Audrey tries selling honey to make money. She mentioned that you have to talk to the bees. So don't forget to pass it on to Paul (though I'm sure he knows already!).


  2. Thank you for the tour! Love the video and getting to hear you, almost like we are walking together. So nice to have a peek into your day and experience your beautiful garden. It is truly a "Secret Garden" and very charming.
    Bee keeping sounds exciting. I am looking forward to hearing more about it.

  3. Lovely tour, lovely garden, lovely everything! Thank you for sharing...Laura Jenkins

  4. Oh! What a treat! Particularly to finally hear your voice on the video, which came through very well for me. Your garden is such a peaceful spot. I am certain you enjoy it.

    Good luck with the bee keeping. My husband helped a friend for awhile with his hives, and it was really interesting work. We love the honey!:-)

  5. Rachel, its perfect. And Alice in the window with her little sign....she is so sweet.
    the flags are so cheerful, just the right touch.
    Yes, the video worked and made it all the more interesting!

  6. Oh didn't you just make my day with this adorable post. Of course you know I adore the videos, make it all seem so much more real and also that you are right here talking to me. The garden looks wonderful and I'm sure was a huge hit among the visitors but it would be hard to top the doggy in the window. Do you remember that old song--how much is that doggy in the window? Meanwhile, I've observed something--your pics always look blue. It makes me think the color of light in England is rather blueish. Here it's yellow, in NY gray, so light changes everywhere. Or anyway that's my assumption. Thanks for sharing--loved it!

  7. Oh you have such a lovely garden, it is always nice to see it in pictures, now in videos, but neither give it justice.

    And I want that cat!

  8. Thank you for the video of your garden! It is so lovely. What a wonderful way to raise money for charity. Love the idea of having Alice there for the children to see... a great touch.

  9. Oh Rachel...what a wonderful post. Love the video and would have loved to have been there...Your garden is so pretty and peaceful. I just know you must enjoy it very much.

    Sounds like Paul will be enjoying that bee hive. How wonderful to have fresh

    Your day sounded wonderful! So glad you enjoyed your day..

    xoxo Gert

  10. Dear Rachel,
    Although I wasn't there to visit in person, your post let me experience it almost first hand. I love the little video and all the photos of the garden and guests. It sounds like you had a perfect day. I'm sure that everyone loved seeing Alice, she's such a little cutie. How interesting Paul's new hobby is!! I am excited to hear more about it and look forward to seeing some pictures (and maybe video) in the future! I just love listening to you speak in the videos, makes me feel so much closer! And by the way, the clock tower IS wonderful! What a beautiful view. You live in such a picturesque little town. Picture of kitty curled up on Paul's car roof is adorable too. Thank you for sharing it all with us. xoxo

  11. I loved the wonderful tour, Rachel, just like being there!! Love you sweet voice and the sounds of the water! And the darling sign for charming is that?! Thank you so much for sharing the event with us all.

    As for the darling kitty...we call it being blessed by a cat! Esp if we see little paw prints left behind. Love and hugs, Sherry xx

  12. Rachel, you made me feel like I was on the tour of your garden! What a lovely post.

  13. Thanks so much for the lovely tour. Can't believe that I will see it all soon, different season but still... It all sounds so lovely. I loved little Alice in the window. I couldn't see your video at work, probably screened it thinking it was something dirty....
    Love xxxxxxxxxxxxxxx

  14. What a great post Ray, the kitty on the car! Please. And Paul in his outfit. Bees in the yard, can't wait for a bite of Lucas Honey. That was just wonderful....for pure charm, your garden, with the small "zoo" of one animal, wins. Love you, Sue

  15. Oh, what a bunch of wonderful and fantastical sights! I like Alice! She's adorable!

  16. Oh my goodness...I don't know why my comment did not show up! This is so amazing---the garden is beyond wonderful and I would have paid 2 tickets to come and see it!!!!

  17. Rachel dear, Just trying to catch up with you. It is amazing how different your secret garden looks in the fullness of summer. Stunning and I love it that Paul will keep bees. Perfect.

    Alice, oh she looked darling, your video made me homesick for you,
    the cat on the warm, canvas roof...all too wonderful. Say hello to your astronaut for me. Do you have the Oxford Press book on keeping bees?

    With love,


  18. Love the cat on the warm canvas convertible roof... :-)


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