1 May 2012

Petersham Open Gardens 2012


Every two years a few of the gardens in Petersham open themselves for a day to raise money for charity.

That appeals to me greatly as I like giving money to charity, I enjoy walking around gardens and it gives me a chance to spy on some of the local houses.

As with the whole of the month of April, rain was forecast and arrived but this did little to dampen my enthusiasm until five hours in to the expedition the rain got heavier and the rising tiredness convinced me to call it a day.

By then I had seen almost all of the gardens and those I missed I had seen before and presume that I will have the chance to see again.

The technology was an important part of the planning and I ended taking three cameras with me.

Most of the pictures were taken with my still new Canon Powershot SX230 HS and these are on Facebook and are also gradually finding their way on to my Ham Photos Blog.

I still carry my Canon Ixus 80 IS as a safety net in case something goes wrong with the other one. Which nearly happened as all my happy snapping did serious damage to the camera's battery. I need to buy a spare.

The final part of the triage was my iPhone4 which I took for its internet connectivity and the Instagram app with its funky filters.

The original photos are in their proper homes, Facebook and my other blog, so I've chosen some of the Instagram ones to use here.

This approach also meant using the cameras quite differently.

With the Canons I took over 150 photos which works out around 20 photos per garden.

The first round of weeding reduced the number posted to Facebook to 112 and I will probably post between 20 and 30 to Ham Photos, which is still three or four for each garden.

With the iPhone and Instagram I tried to take just one iconic picture from each garden, though I did weaken a couple of times and couple of those here both come from Petersham Lodge.

Therefore this collection reflects both the gardens and what I like about gardens, so a garden with ancient wisteria gets represented here by a gaudy elephant.

There are lots of pictures of plant pots simply because everybody loves plant pots.


One of the tea breaks was held in Petersham Nurseries (which has morphed in to a large tea room with a few flowers thrown in) when the adulation of flowers continued.

Almost as common as plant pots were unusual statues and water features, often in combination as here.

The house with the gaudy elephants (there was a blue one too) also had a heron by a pond and a family of ducks by a little watercourse.

By the way, this is Rosebank which is behind a tall wall next to the nurseries.

This is one of the smaller gardens on the tour but is none the less interesting because of its size.

Gardens are all about creating different spaces with different colours, shapes, moods and uses and size is no barrier to this.

Even a (relatively) modest house can find space for a water feature and a couple of birds to protect the fish in it.

Of course bigger gardens can have bigger water features and the long pond at Petersham Lodge is always one of the highlights of the day.

There is a lot more to these gardens than just the pond; nestled next to the house are pots, flower beds and a geometrically patterned box hedge.

Beyond that lies the lawn and beyond that a wild garden dense with trees, wild grasses and Bluebells.

In one corner lies the working part of the garden with vegetable plots and a nursery preparing flowers for the house.

It may be a working garden but it is also a pretty garden and the vegetables and flowers are well presented for visitors.

Here a redundant barrow has become a proud home for Pansies and so gains a worthy purpose in its retirement.


Petersham Lodge gardens are nicely laid out with some of the sections hidden from each other so it takes a while to explore. That's time very well spent.

The Glasshouse just down the road could hardly be more different.

It is viciously modern and meticulously sculptured. Apart from a couple of seats it give no evidence of being "lived in" and its real purpose is to provide a pleasing view to the glass walled rooms that surround it.

That is a reasonable purpose for a garden and this one does it exceptionally well, especially in this weather when actually being out in a garden implies getting wet.

There were several other gardens to see but not all had something sufficiently impressive or distinctive to warrant Instagraming.

One that certainly did was otherwise fairly simple. Pretending to hide behind a tree was this very jolly frog delighted to be discovered.



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