A Glorious Evening of Garden Delights
Tuesday 31st October saw our final 90th birthday celebration, our annual lecture, take place at the Royal Geographical Society in London. The event entitled, ‘The Glory of the Garden: 90 Years of the National Garden Scheme’, featured our president, Mary Berry, Lord Ashbrook, whose family have opened the garden of Arley Hall, Cheshire, since 1927 and Daily Telegraph gardens columnist Stephen Lacey.
Our CEO George Plumptre opened the evening and there was a real sense of celebration in the air. Our speakers shared their inspirational, and often humorous stories, of their own garden opening experiences, accompanied by beautiful images of their own gardens in full bloom.
The speakers also passed on many tips for successful garden opening. Mary Berry delighted our audience by sharing her secrets for baking for the often large crowds found at a garden opening. Her top tip was to serve tray-bakes as they are easy to prepare in volume (Mary advised using roasting tins) which can be prepared and frozen in advance. She also mentioned that lemon drizzle was by far the most popular flavour.
Mary gave some fantastic gardening tips too, including how to create a perfect ball shaped topiary. Her trick was to place an upside down hanging basket on top of a yew bush, and then, as the leaves grow through, you can prune to the perfect shape.
Lord Ashbrook encouraged opening your garden not just for one day but for both days over a weekend. This can increase the chances of getting a good weather day for your garden opening and thus good attendance. He also spoke positively of allowing dogs on leads at garden openings and how this can open up a whole new audience to your garden.
Stephen Lacey shared many anecdotes of his time as an NGS garden owner and visitor and also some clever ideas for changing your garden landscape throughout the year. His talk featured an image of a circular lawn, which in spring showcases tulips in the centre, but at other times displays an ornate chimney pot feature. He also grows lilies in black plastic pots in his greenhouse so that, just before they flower, he can hide the pots in strategic places when he needs to fill gaps and have the scent and colour from them too. By moving garden furniture, ornaments and potted plants around the garden in different seasons, you can change focus, add different highlights and enable garden openings throughout the year.
This event was a glorious finale to our 90th Birthday celebrations and we are delighted to announce that we already have our 2018 Annual Lecture prepared. Next year we will hear from Lord Heseltine on the 8th November, 2018, so please pop this date in your diaries now.
A huge thank you to our event supporters, Investec Wealth and Investment, our panel of speakers, Mary Berry, Lord Ashbrook and Stephen Lacey and our host venue The Royal Geographical Society for their contribution to a lovely evening.