Walton Open Gardens – A Great Way to Spend a Sunday

Yesterday the 19th was the thrid time a select bunch of keen Walton gardeners opened their doors to the public.   At £4 a pop, over 300 tickets were sold with the proceeds going to fund the up-keep of open spaces in Walton. Judy McRae, the organiser, exhibited her own cosy city garden which was a fine example of how much you can cram into a small space. (It was my favourite, although we had to queue as it could really only reasonably cater for 10 at any one time.)  Funnily enough, since we moved here 18 months ago, I had always admired her front garden in the Spring and marvelled at the blues on the way down to the Anglers pub.

I started at the old Mount Felix Stables near the junction with the A244 and met a charming Spanish gentleman who was checking tickets as people entered.  Impressed immediately by the planting in this garden, there were several ‘rooms’ created on different levels, featuring lovely mature trees, surrounding the main lawn. What I especially liked about this was the mix of vegetable beds with the more traditional bedding plants and shrubs. Rows of lettuces planted in triangular beds between paving slabs added to the perspective, drawing the eye to features. There was a lovely huge barrel overflowing with tomato plants and nearby Papaver Patty’s Plum bobbed gracefully against the silhouette of a local tower block in the distance.

Next, I moved on to Rivermount, along with another couple. Although it feels as though  we’ve had lots  of rain lately, the soil seemed very dry even so. This was a broad garden over looking the Thames with a stepped lawn and flower beds on both sides. Yellows and acid greens dominated this one. There were lots of visitors arriving now.

Venturing along Manor Road to Berkeley Gardens, I came across two side by side, both beautiful. The first was full of foliage texture,  shrubs and a magnificent mature Magnolia, the second opened with a regal Clematis which looked like a variety called “The President.” I only know that because I’ve put one in myself this year from Wilko’s and it isn’t out yet.  A bubbling pond provided a place of relaxation to take in the fabulous planting. This garden featured some lovely whooshing grasses which provided good contrast.

Judy McRae’s very popular small city garden was so busy I asked if I could return to concentrate on it when there were less people around. I especially loved the architectural Aliums. Around the corner, I then visited Noe’s garden. Every Thai person I have ever met is an exceptionally tidy gardener, disciplined and attentive. The raised beds featured climbing courgettes, squash and beans in flower. A delicate white clematis clung to the corner of a blue garden house and was protected by a large stone Buddha. Here I met a very charming Dutchman and his partner from Addlestone and after a time I explained my photographic interest in gardens. He invited me to see his place in August when he suggested there would be a second burst of colour. He also sang the praises of Shere Open Gardens near Guildford, this year open to the public on Sunday 26th June from 2-6pm.

Last but not least, I ambled along the tow path to the most Easterly garden, another riverside view. The lovely Jill explained her battle with plants and the wind. I recalled a visit to the Chesil Art Galleries in Chiswell with my bee-keeper mate Chris Slade. Unfortunately the owner and resident artist Margaret Somerville has now moved to Dorchester, but her garden was full of plants that loved arid and windy conditions. It was featured in many gardening mags. I’ve followed up with an email to Jill and hopefully she’ll find some inspiration the next time she’s down that way.

Walton Open Gardens

Shere Open Gardens

The NGS Yellow Book

Chiswell Walled Garden

Chris Slade’s Bee Blog

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