A couple of days ago our garden was tagged in an Instagram story (I am relying on Aideen to explain this mystery to me). A young lady was walking through the fields past our garden, she was intrigued and liked the look of what she could see. We have recently put a banner on the wall, that can be seen from the field, that has our contact details on. So when she tagged us in her Instagram story we were notified.
The young lady is a chef with 21,000 followers on Instagram so we messaged her with an invitation to visit the garden. The younger members of the family are working hard to build up the gardens profile on social media in the hope that when we are able to reopen for public visits, there will be more awareness of our existence. We have also recently been featured on The Great British Garden show Instagram/website which has 11,000 followers and they are keen to do a more detailed interview/video to promote the garden. We, as a family, are now on a mission to try and complete the restoration of the garden. We have realised since our first opening in 2018 that there is a lot of public interest in Church Gardens and that potentially it is the garden itself that has the capability to generate at least some of the funds to finance it’s own restoration!
Lockdown has been a revelation to us all, our home and gardens have provided us all with the best refuge & haven that we could have wished for. As we have found ourselves as a family to be made largely unemployed by the virus, it has encouraged us to look towards the garden as our main focus for the future. I think Patrick, in particular, has decided that if he doesn’t complete this project (at least finishing the restoration of the walls and house) in the next few years he never will. He feels he is obviously getting older and his health isn’t great. It has been a massive undertaking for us, as an ordinary couple with full time jobs and a family to raise, to find the time and money to bring our dream of restoring Church Gardens to fruition. We have come a long way since purchasing Church Gardens nearly 25 years ago, but the biggest and most expensive parts of the project still await us. Therefore, we are feeling galvanised to make a final mighty ‘push’ to progress things and ironically lockdown has provided us with the perfect circumstances to get on with big jobs. Partly because we’ve all had more time because we’ve not been working and also because big disruptive jobs are easier when you do not have to accommodate public visits. However, we need to generate public interest in order to move forward. Hence our invitation to Lisa (the Instagram chef) to visit our garden to create a proper story about what lies inside our sheltering walls. We invited her to visit today but were not entirely sure when or if she would arrive.
I decide some tidying up is in order in case she does come. My frenzy of planting in recent weeks has resulted in a tsunami of empty pots and modular trays littering the polytunnel and parts of the garden. Also as my main priority has been to get young plants in the ground, weeding has been rather neglected. Since first making contact with Lisa, I have managed to improve this situation with a little help from Aideen and Meave. The Alpine beds, fruit cage, miniature Japanese garden, Auricula theatre and organ pipe bed were all looking much more respectable. I was up at the crack of dawn this morning tossing a mountain of grass clippings up onto the compost heap and then I decided to tidy up the polytunnel – no mean feat! My polytunnel is beautiful but it is a ‘workhorse’ and inevitably gets messy. I do not begrudge having a spring clean as it is very satisfying to see it in good order.
I then get grandad up who is still feeling quite shaky after his fall. Aideen and I then get rather distracted helping a friend look for her dog and it is when Aideen continues with the dog hunt and I’ve returned home that she comes across Lisa looking for the way to our house.
We then have a very pleasant time showing Lisa the garden whilst she narrates her Instagram story. It is very interesting to hear about what she does, she has written a cookery book (‘My Relationship with Food’ by Lisa Roukin) and seems to operate her career (especially at the moment) largely online.
We chat about some potential joint ventures, her area is healthy eating and well being, which fits in very well with our Church Gardens ethos and she promises to return with a copy of her book.
After she leaves it starts to rain so I retreat into my now remarkably tidy polytunnel to sow some trays of ‘follow on’ crops. One tray of beetroot, one of lettuce, one of calabrese/broccoli, one of sprouting broccoli + cabbage and one of spring onions. I come inside earlier than usual because I did have a very early start this morning and Aideen is working on updating the website – good girl!