14 June 2011
open squares weekend - 11th & 12th June
Every June the garden takes part in London Open Garden Squares Weekend. The weekend is organised by London Parks and Gardens Trust and is a great opportunity to explore many of London's private gardens - the majority of the participating gardens are private squares and this is the only opportunity for non-key holders to have a look round. The Phoenix, being open access every day of the year, closes to the general public for the weekend and is only open to Open Squares ticket holders. This year was very busy with over 300 visitors on the Saturday alone, so it is a great opportunity for garden volunteers to show off the results of all the hard work they do throughout the year to keep the Phoenix Garden running. The Open Squares visitors are viewing the garden alongside other gardens, many that have planting budgets we can only dream of, so it is good to get all the feedback and to hear how we stand up to the competition. Many visitors are amazed that the garden is open to the public as a matter of course and there are many compliments regarding the planting and the design - of course I already know we are the best! Garden volunteers also run a refreshments tent selling teas, coffees and home-made cakes, and they were run off their feet keeping up with demand!
A long day greeting 300 visitors, and hearing a litany of complaints from those too tight to support 'their' charity garden, has exhausted the gatekeeper! I should probably know better by now but I am still surprised at the unpleasantness freely directed towards garden volunteers by those unwilling to pay the £3 entrance fee for the day; "but this is MY garden you effing middle-class wanker!".
I continue to be amazed at the commitment of the volunteer team who keep on running fund raising events such as these for such little thanks, so here is a Big Thank You to: Jane, Alex, Ray, Craig, Peter, Elizabeth, Graziella, Sharon & Pauline, who made the weekend such a success.