(or the art of paying for inspiration, eat cake and sometimes buy plants at the same time)
I love yellowbooking, (visiting gardens under the NGS Garden Scheme). It is such a good way of spending an afternoon. There is generally tea and cake (never to be sniffed at) and hopefully plant sales as well – the perfect ingredients for an afternoon out.
You get to visit gardens that otherwise might not be open to the general public. For me, it is often the smaller gardens and in particular if you get two or three grouped together on a street/village, that have the most appeal. They are often the best as they might not be considered as having sufficient ‘interest time’ in their own rights, and yet they are often the people gardening on the same scale as myself. So whilst you can get inspiration from any size of garden, to see what others do with limited space is in itself a great education.
It also doesn’t matter if you actually like the garden in its entirety. Sometimes it is seeing what you don’t like that helps you decide what you do. Sometimes it is the smallest detail in an otherwise wilderness of taste (bearing in mind taste is in the eye of the beholder), but that small detail makes the visit worthwhile. I once visited a very expensively designed garden. It was extravagant and decadent and very formal, but it did have the most wonderful display of Zantedeschia aethiopica that were worth the visit on their own. They looked so stunning in their simple beauty that I knew my afternoon was not wasted.
The genius of the NGS scheme is that most of us would pay to do this anyway, but the added bonus of knowing that the money is going to charity gives a guilt-free, if not virtuous feeling to the whole proceedings.
I have had a couple of fallow years where, for a variety of reasons (mainly relating to being too busy in my own garden), I have neglected my yellowbooking habits. This year I am determined to get out there again. I have managed one visit already and there are so many on the list I wish to get to. I just have to complete all my own garden chores before I allow myself out……..
So - buy the book - http://www.ngs.org.uk/shop-online/order-the-yellow-book.aspx
Get out there http://www.ngs.org.uk/