Yesterday, we had the pleasure of being invited along by Argos to an intimate garden party held in Hail Weston, a lovely, quaint village in Cambridgeshire just north of St. Neots.
Upon arrival, we were introduced to the hosts and given name badges before being served teas, coffees and jam tarts in the most delicate china tea cups.
We had a while to explore the garden before our first talk. I can not express this enough… If you ever get a chance to go and visit, please do. For one weekend a year, Dawn Isaac opens her garden to the public as part of the National Gardens Scheme which raises money for nursing and caring charities and her garden is the perfect example of how a super practical, family garden can still be exquisitely beautiful.
Aside from the larger, more noticeable features like the sunken trampoline (which had Liam intrigued from the start), children’s play area, raised vegetable beds and a birdcage seating area, there are quirky and clever things hidden around every corner. Ugly wheelie bins were hidden behind a mirrored gate that reflected the sun, sky and colours of the garden. Buried buckets and tubs played host to frogs and other water wildlife, bug hotels hidden in corners housed all sorts of creepy crawlies and dinosaurs walked again amongst the shrubbery.
Our first talk was hosted by Jen Stanbrook of LoveChicLiving. She gave us plenty of ideas for simple and cost effective garden lighting solutions from the obvious stake-in-the-ground type solar lights, candles and lanterns for ambience, to more atmospheric uplighting ideas to draw attention to certain features and areas. We were then provided with glass jars and decoupage papers to create our own tea-light hanging lanterns.
Lunch was a mix of elegant sandwiches, cheese scones and gluten free chocolate brownies served on delicate china cake stands. We were also provided with bubbles, crayons and paper to keep the little people occupied. Everything was really well thought out and I didn’t hear one single child complain they were bored as there was so much to entertain them.
Our next talk was on alternative BBQ ideas and hosted by Kerstin Rodgers of MsMarmiteLover. This was perfectly timed for us as we have planned a bbq in the coming weeks for Dexter’s second birthday so this gave us some fantastic ideas to use for that. Simple things likes sliced sweet red pepper grilled with halloumi and then drizzled with pesto. I cannot tell you in words how delicious this tasted and I cannot wait to get these grilling away! Oh and barbecued corn on the cob smothered with a mix of butter and sweet chilli sauce or butter with lime zest. Butter with any sort of flavouring is going to be a new experiment for me in my cooking. Especially as its freezable and sliceable so you can use it as you need it. That said, I don’t imagine it’s very slimming world friendly but whats a few syns between friends?
Finally, the bit I was most looking froward to was Dawn Issac’s workshop on family gardening. Please excuse my little fangirl moment here but not only does she own this incredible garden, she is an RHS Chelsea medal winning garden designer, she’s written two fabulous books on gardening with children (which Liam is buying for me!!!!), she writes a fantastic blog over at LittleGreenFingers annnnnnnddddddd she is the horticultural advisor on cbeebies’ award winning show Mr Bloom’s Nursery, which is like, one of my most favourite programs! (Of course you’ll know that if you read my tweets. ) Aside from all that, she’s incredibly lovely, friendly and helpful.
She showed us a few fun things to do with children in the garden and we were able to take home all of our makes. Dexter decorated his own watering can with scribbles. We then planted a strawberry plant into a silver colander that we plan on hanging in the garden. We also made an alternative to the cress head craft that is often done. We used an egg box for the caterpillar body, added pipe cleaners legs and googley eyes before filling each recess with a ball of cotton wool and adding seeds such as beetroot, dill and rocket. These are a great way of introducing children to caring for their plants. The shoots grow quickly so prevent boredom and can then be eaten or used for adding flavours which is also a very different way of getting your children to try different flavours.
I asked Dawn for some suggestions on some flowers and plants for my shaded border, especially ones that might attract bees and butterflies and not only did she walk me round showing me things that would work and spelling out their names, she potted up 3 plants of her own and gave them to me to start me off. After my previous post on what a complete wasteland my garden currently is, I have come away feeling very inspired and excited to get my garden transformed into something beautiful and practical that gets used almost every day. Since getting home yesterday, I have already added 3 windmills to the border to add some colour, installed some solar ball party string lights, kindly given to us by Argos and added a wind clunk. I also plan on making a new wind chime from one of Dexter’s toys and a baked bean tin but more on that in another post. You can find the lights here on the Argos garden page
I’m so happy and grateful to have been invited to this event yesterday so would like to thank everyone involved for putting together such a lovely day.