I've been to two quite different days in the last week. The first was to the fve gardens on Kew Green, where you buy one ticket and it's all organised in a very neighbourly - and orderly - fashion with riverside garden gates open to allow acces through interconnecting gardens and garden no. 4 doing all the tea and cakes. So you get to see five gardens of similar size and how they deal with that long-thin garden conundrum. Mostly they opted for the long and winding path through several different areas of sun and shade, with long deep borders, all the garden admin - and a spot of beekeeping - going on in generous shady compost areas at the back.
On Sunday, four houses on Chiswick Mall opened their gardens. I often wander along this prize piece of of Thames river frontage past the gorgeous unaffordable houses, consoling myself with the thought that it wouldn't be much fun to have to worry about flooding all the time. With the chance of a peek at what's behind some of the front doors, I discovered that quite a few of the houses have fine backgarden views of Chiswick brewery, which also would not be top of my house wishlist. However, this year, there was a bit of an open gardens battle raging (quite politely mind), with two extra gardens opening specifically for the Red Cross, not the NGS. That made for quite a lot of garden visiting.
Disappointingly, the NGS gardens didn't do a group ticket. The lady on the door of the first garden somewhat grumpily replied that it had never really worked out that way. I suspect I wasn't the first person who'd asked and that it points to a bit of neighbourly rivalry. Call me a cheapsgate (husband often does), but at £2 a visit, it starts to add up. I know it's all for charidee, but I dashed out the house with only a fiver and some loose change, so I had to choose four.
Gardens number 2 and 3 were the most interesting, with a wonderful conservatory/greenhouse that ran the length of the garden wall at the Red Cross open garden. I was also impressed by a magnificent twisted Eucalyptus and this Fuchsia magellanica in the NGS one. Not a favourite of mine, but this one had so many flowers it looked like it was dripping with fairylights.