Summer 2009 saw lovely displays in the borders as well as colourful seasonal planting in pots, baskets etc around the house despite poor weather and the veg patch did fairly well but the rabbits continued to enjoy some of the produce. A number of friends and family visited and often suggested we should open the garden. After contacting the NGS County organizer only for advice on what needed to be done to bring things up to the required standard, we were delighted to be accepted with 2010 as our first season. Our initial openings were very successful and encouraged us to carry on.
We have a fantastic team of friends who help us share this lovely place with others. We serve homemade tea and cakes either in the sunshine amongst the flowers or under cover if the weather is not kind.
By September 2013 we were welcoming quite large numbers of visitors so the following year we extended our opening times and offered light lunches as well as tea and cakes. The longer opening hours also relieved pressure in the car park so that we did not need to turn people away as in the previous year.
Many of the plants in the garden have been grown from seeds or cuttings. With such a large space to fill it is the most economic way to do it! A lot of the seeds are saved from existing plants in the late summer, others bought from seed suppliers and some from The Cottage Garden Society annual seed distribution. Surplus plants are offered for sale at our openings and the proceeds given to a local charity of our choice. We like to support 2 local charities, Matlock Church on the Bus and the Jigsaw project, both helping less fortunate people in our area.
We also sell a number of gift and craft items for charity, all locally made, many from wool dyed and spun at the Lilies. More details on our sheep page.
We have plenty of parking away from the busy main road with a number of people to assist as required. There is some disabled access but the front area of the house is limestone chippings and the far end of the garden can be boggy after heavy rain. There is a steep slope from the car parking area but we can help with ‘drop offs’ by the main gate to avoid this.
In July 2012 we were contacted by East Midlands Today our local BBC News pro gramme who wanted to do a short feature on the garden. They filmed on a very wet afternoon in August! and as a result we had so many visitors at our September opening our car parking area filled to overflowing!
We have since featured in Amateur Gardening Magazine with a similar effect on visitor numbers.
We really enjoy our open afternoons and visits from private groups, especially as we meet so many really interesting local people. As we have not lived in this area for very long it makes us feel much more part of our local community. In 2012 a gentleman who had lived at the Lilies in 1942 when the house was a pub visited with his wife. He is the young child in the photo (below) and was pleased for us to take an up to date photo in the same position. (right). It was so lovely chatting with them both.
We also welcome private groups of visitors, something we are happy to do so long as they come around the same time as our normal openings. One group came and spent the morning painting views of our garden and left us a result of their mornings work!
Our entry on the NGS site is here