All Systems Go!


Here at The Watch House we are steadily building up to our second annual National Gardens Scheme open weekend on August 1st and 2nd. Unlike last year, when the whole exercise was an unknown, we are approaching this year’s event with a certain amount of surety. The posters are up and the plants are in; our helpers have ‘volunteered’ and we have a growing list of supplies to shop for. The only thing we can’t predict is the weather, the single factor that will either deliver us hoards of visitors to enjoy our plants in full bloom, or cast us into a lonely, leafy shadow. In 2014 we were blessed with superb weather and welcomed 220 garden lovers from near and far, way beyond our wildest expectations.

After last weekend's heavy rain

After last weekend’s heavy rain

There have been a few changes since last year. An especially jungly corner has been cleared and replanted, and some of the trees have had their crowns lifted and canopies thinned. These tweaks have allowed more light into the main raised bed, although some of the newer plants are still establishing themselves. I am hopeful that my ‘Golden Splendour’ lilies will still be in bloom for open weekend, but coaxing the hedychiums and cannas to do their thing could be harder. Last year they came into flower on the first day we opened and attracted a lot of attention. Currently they no more that a promising mass of foliage. Our echiums have re-grouped in the ‘jungly’ corner and are less visible than last year, but the bees are still managing to find them. I am torn about removing the spectacular seed heads of Melianthus major (above, centre) which are such an unusual sight yet blocking circulation around the garden.

Digitalis sceptrum and Digitalis canariensis putting on a spectacular double act

Digitalis sceptrum and Digitalis canariensis putting on a spectacular double act this week

I reminded myself last night that I must update the plant list and garden ‘handout’ that we printed last year. It will be fascinating to reflect on the plants that have arrived and departed over the last twelve months, something I probably wouldn’t make time for otherwise. I have increased the number of gingers, adding in Hedychium coccineum ‘Tara’ and Hedychium densiflorum ‘Sorung’. I have also been lulled into a false sense of security by two mild winters and have increased the number of Geranium maderense in pink and white. If they survive the cold months, many will flower next spring.

New garden furniture arrived this June, a reclaimed teak table surrounded by 'Air' chairs by Magis.

The Watch House garden from above in 2014

The big debate between the two of is where to serve refreshments and what to make. I’d like to give visitors a glimpse of our new garden and lay on teas there. It’s not a garden I am especially proud of at the moment, but one day it will be. It could be fun to share the start of our journey. As I write, the kitchen is a hive of activity as Him Indoors experiments with new cake recipes. It is such a hardship having to try them all out! What we can be sure of is that we’ll meet lots of lovely people who are interested enough in gardens and gardening to pay a visit to this far corner of Kent. We promise to make you very welcome. For those of you who can’t make it, I’ll attempt to recreate the occasion on The Frustrated Gardener. You’ll miss out on the cake though 😉

Welcome to our jungle!

Welcome to our jungle!

Open Weekend Practicalities

The garden will be open on Saturday August 1st and Sunday August 2nd from 12-4. Entrance £3. Well behaved adults, children and dogs are very welcome. Please be mindful of the garden’s size and that at times it may become quite cramped. There will be refreshments in the garden, but in a town like Broadstairs there are lots of options from fine dining to fish and chips so perhaps combine your visit with a stroll along the seafront and a nice lunch. There is no car parking immediately outside the house. The carpark off the High Street is your best bet: turn in between Cooke and Co. Estate Agents and The Fireplace Company. On Sunday there is unrestricted parking on some of the surrounding streets. From the station, The Watch House is about a 7 minute walk straight down the hill towards the sea. The address of the Watch House is 7, Thanet Road, Broadstairs, CT10 1LF. It is immediately next door to Elite Fitness Studio which is well signposted around the town.

This year I've chosen trailing white begonias and Fuchsia 'Tom West' to adorn the outdoor kitchen shelves

This year I’ve chosen trailing white begonias and Fuchsia ‘Tom West’ to adorn the outdoor kitchen shelves