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Hello fellow Open Gardeners.

The OG Committee held its first extensive but productive meeting on Saturday 7th February, and I was appointed official liaison person for all of us opening our gardens.  I am responsible for sharing all the information about the weekend that I can with you. Please feel free bring any concerns or requirements that you have to me and I will pass them on to the Committee.

The weekend of 20/21 June is of course months away, but I have one question which needs a response straightaway.

At the meeting, the originally proposed opening times from 2 to 5pm were provisionally revised to 1 to 5pm, partly in order to encourage people to buy the burgers and sausages that will be available at the barbeque in the Farm Shop courtyard.  If we don’t open until 2, many people will already have had lunch. 

Does anybody have an objection to the extra hour?  Please let me know if so (by email or 01722 790665).

Carolyn MacDougall will be starting her publicity blitz soon, including in the Parish Magazine (deadline 15 Feb) so she would be grateful if we could agree the times by the 15th.

Volunteers and help: the implication of the revised timing is really that we will all need help for an extra hour.  Each Open Garden will ideally have two people throughout the afternoon: one at the entrance to check tickets and – depending on size - one person within the garden to answer questions and make sure no one falls in the river, trips down steps or tramples your favourite plant.

There is already a big demand for volunteers for the stalls, teas and other activities, so it would be good for all of us to identify a few helpers sooner rather than later and also to encourage friends and family to come over and help that weekend. Also, if you have got other people nominated to take over your gate/garden for a while, you will get a chance to wander around rather than being tied to your own space all afternoon.

Logistics: each open garden needs to work out how many tables, chairs, umbrellas and gazebos they need – if any – and let me know.  Of course if it is fine, we won’t need shelter, but if it isn’t good weather, the person at the entrance of each garden will need some sort of covering, and a small table.

Some of the other activities also need equipment, so an email will be going out to everyone in the village asking for all those with spare chairs, garden tables and especially gazebos to get in touch with Ian Gibb (IC Logistics) so he has a full list of what the village and Reading Room have available.  If you are offering up any equipment, remember that you will need some in your own garden.

Tickets: There will be ticket stalls at the car park(s) and one in the centre of the village, but some extra tickets will be available at each garden entrance for us to sell, just in case a few people turn up without tickets – for example people living or staying within the village who are not using the car parks.

Each ticket will be accompanied by a one-page guide, with a simple hand-drawn map showing the open gardens, which will be identified by name and a number, as well as the different stalls (plants, bottle, raffle etc) and activities (for example teas, Reading Room exhibition). Each garden will have its number displayed near the entrance, possibly on balloons.

Public liability insurance: Bill and Neil are researching various possibilities for covering the event without unnecessary expense and will come up with their plans to be discussed at the Village Meeting on 19 March.

Before this, we ought to look at each garden and identify any ‘risky areas’ (broken steps, the bridge over our pond, for example) so that we can rope them off or indicate the ‘danger/risk’ in some way.  Each ticket will also have in large letters on the back the fact that visitors enter the gardens at their own risk. 

Security and access: When we look for areas to be identified or roped off for risk reasons, we can also identify any areas in your garden that you wish to remain private and not open to visitors. Owners are advised to close the curtains on their ground floor.

Neil and I will contact you all in early March and go round your garden at a time convenient to you and identify any areas of risk or privacy that may need signposting or roping off.

Dogs: Most people seem to be happy with the idea that dogs will be allowed but only on leads.  But if any Open Gardener (OG) would prefer no dogs, we can indicate that by their entrance and provide something for people to attach the lead.

Media coverage and publicity:  At the meeting Carolyn outlined her detailed plans for media coverage. She needs good pictures of any of our gardens and a couple of sentences on each one, to give visitors an idea about what that particular garden has to offer. I know she would like this sooner rather than later, but I am pretty busy this week and away from 19th-27th February, so I hope that we can all do this in March.

Perhaps we could all get together for a brief meeting in early March, and write up some sample text together so it is not too onerous a chore.  We can also discuss any of the above items that need clarification etc.  In the meantime, if anyone has good pictures of their garden, please take them round or send them direct to Carolyn [email protected]

And please let me know your feeling about the opening times.

With best wishes, Olivia

Berwick St James Open Gardens Weekend

20/21 June 2015


At the last two Village Meetings (October and January) a number of options for the main 2015 village fundraising event were discussed. At the January 8th meeting it was decided by a fairly large margin that this year’s main event to raise money for St James Church, the Reading Room and the Community Fund would be an Open Gardens Weekend, to take place on the 20th and 21st  June.  As this is the first time for over 20 years that the village has held such an event, we will be trying out some new ideas as well as incorporating those parts of the fete that have made money for the village in the past.

It is planned to hold the event over two days, thus maximising the chances of good weather, and the gardens will be open to the public between 2pm and 5pm.  At present some thirteen gardens have been offered for showing by the following residents:

1.         Stephen & Ailsa Bush                -                       Cockspur Thorns

2.         Diana Gifford-Meade                -                       The Mill House

3.         Cyril Emm                                 -                       1  Hazel Cottages         

4.         Lyanne Street                           -                       The Briars

5.         Bill Hiscocks                              -                       The Old School House

6.         Jane Rowe                                -                       Rose House

7.         Mary MacDermot                     -                       2 Henry's Yard

8.         Jackie Webb                             -                       Langford House

9.         Tim & Olivia Marchant              -                       The Clock House

10.       Robert Drake                            -                       Drakes Cottage

11.       Janey Campbell-Johnston          -                       Heronswood

12.       Henry & Sophie Colthurst          -                       Asserton House

13.       Neil & Carolyn MacDougall        -                       The Leat House


The opportunity to open one's garden is available to everyone, so if we can get a few more, irrespective of whether your gardens is large or small, it would increase the variety of gardens on show and enhance the attraction of the event to the general public.

At the next Village Meeting, planned for 19 March, the Open Gardens committee should be in a position to give everyone a fairly clear picture of the format of the event, what has been done so far and what needs to be done.  Initial thoughts are that the forecourt by the Farm Shop would be used as a barbeque area, together with a Beer and Pimms stall.  There would also be a tea and cakes marquee located in one, or possibly two, of the gardens, as well as a plant stall, and two or three other stalls that usually do well at the fete.  There will be an art and photographic exhibition and author's book sale in the Reading Room, and the Duck Race will be held on Sunday 21st June, probably around midday, so that those who have come from outside the village to watch it can use the barbeque area for lunch before the gardens open.

There will be a lot to do - not least by those opening their gardens, - both before and during the weekend to make the event run smoothly and successfully.  If you would like to offer to help, such as manning stalls, helping set up, growing plants, etc, and haven't already done so, please get in touch with me, either by phone or email.  Your assistance would be very much appreciated, and hopefully as a village we can make the Open Gardens weekend into an enjoyable and successful occasion for everyone.

Neil MacDougall

The Great Berwick Bake-Off


There is just over a month to go until the Open Gardens Weekend, and if the weather is good we can expect around 300 – 400 people on each day, perhaps more.  As the person looking after both the Tea Tent and Cake Stall, I am asking for as many of you as possible to provide (make) products for us to sell at the Cake Stall.  A team of six of us who are involved in selling teas are already planning to make and provide cakes purely for the teas on both the Saturday and Sunday.  So if you can, please make at least two items so that both Saturday and Sunday are covered.  As well as cakes, they can be sweet or savoury, and biscuits and jam are welcome too.

As fridge space is limited, I would be grateful if you could bring your products to our house on the morning of each Open day.  The Cake Stall is generally popular and usually the products sells quickly, but it is important that we still have items to sell on the Sunday, so I do ask you to provide for Sunday as well if you can.

Many thanks for your help in advance.  I will be sending out a reminder closer to the date, but do call me if you have any questions.


Gill Brasher  (01722 790410)          Email:   [email protected]