16 May 2015

Ham Open Gardens 2015

Ham Open Gardens 2015 was something of a challenge!

There were twenty gardens to see and only three hours to see them in. A basic calculation shows that there was eleven minutes per garden including the time is took to walk to each one. It would have been much better if that had been more time, e.g. 1pm to 6pm rather than 2pm to 5pm, but even with four hours it would have been difficult to see all the gardens and to do the larger ones justice.

My plan was to try and see all of the new gardens and all of the must-sees, to fill in the remaining time with gardens close to those that I was already seeing and to give a low priority to those gardens that open at other times.

Executing the plan was hampered a little by a mistake in the guide that I was given that got the numbering of the gardens out of sync and so mislabelled most of them. Luckily I knew the gardens well enough to work around the error but it must have been confusing for visitors to the area.

The most must-see of the must-see gardens was that at Forbes House, the newish palace on Ham Common owned by somebody very secretive. The previous time that I had been there it had been patrolled by men wearing ear-pieces and photography was strictly forbidden. It was not clear what the rules were this time so I took a few photographs but was discrete about it.

From there I headed West along Ham Common calling in at all the gardens along the way. They were all very busy so it was difficult at best to take photographs showing the layouts of the gardens without people getting in the way so most of the photographs that I took were of distinctive objects that I could get close to.

I am sure that  I took photos of this table and  chairs the last time that I was in this garden but that was no reason for not taking some more.

This was one of the new gardens, or new to me anyway. As with many of the smaller gardens it was the pots that had the most impact and these were certainly helped by the aged brick wall and the discrete statue behind them.

Another pot full of flowers, because I like the pot, the flowers in it and the white door that sets them off.

I waited a long time to take the picture of Stokes House as I wanted as few people in it as possible. Waiting was helped by the clutch of benches by the entrance. I needed a little rest by then before heading across the road to the church hall for a cup of tea and some cake, purely for charitable purposes of course.

I then headed back across Ham Common to some of the new gardens, starting with Oak Lodge on the main road. I had watched the work being done to the front garden earlier in the year so it was nice to get to see the back garden too.

The design was simple and modern which made it an interesting contrast from the many cottage style gardens that I had seen before. There is merit in both and having a mixture was ideal.

Another new garden and another modern one, this time attached to a modern house in Ham Farm Road. This had been for sale for a couple of years and the new owners had just started to fashion the garden to their tastes.

The house had always interested me and I was as keen to get a close look at that as I was to see the garden. I was not alone in that and I saw several people peering into the garden facing rooms with a lot less subtlety than I managed.

My final garden was an old favourite, that at the Cassel Hospital. The garden, if that is the correct word for it, was largely left to its own devices with just some mowing in some parts to ease walking across it.

The main attractions were its size and wildness but there was also the fear that it might be built on when the hospital closed, as it was due to, and that this might be the last time to visit it.

Ham Open Gardens 2015 was a bit shambolic in the planning but that took nothing away from the gardens themselves and seeing them made for a busy, thoroughly interesting and fun afternoon.

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