It's brilliant when a day turns out so much better than expected, and Wednesday this week was a perfect example.
I hotfooted it up to the Royal Festival Hall in London for the launch of the National Garden Scheme's 2010 yellow book. If I'm honest, I thought this would be a small affair, full of candy floss haired ladies of a certain age, knitting through a rather laborious talk as I gently snoozed, whilst secretly anticipating the lunchtime canapes.
However, as I hurtled up to floor 5 in the lift, the laughter, hilarity and the general cacophony of joyous noise drifting down the shaft alerted me to the fact that I had got this lot completely wrong.
Now I've known about the NGS for all my gardening life, have visited a few open gardens and in my past capacity as roving TV reporter, I worked with a couple from Lincolnshire as they prepared their garden for the NGS's public. I really ought to have known better. This lot have more energy than I have witnessed in a long time.
After a swift cup of tea, a veritable celebration of the NGS's work ensued, delivered via the genuinely thrilled-to-be-newly appointed President Joe Swift and the efficacious and charming NGS Chairman Penny Snell. Following a slideshow revealing some surprisingly contemporary new garden additions, a delivery of cheques (all including more noughts than any I could ever hope to receive) handed out to the NGS beneficiary charities and some well deserved exceptional service awards, I was sold. This was inspirational stuff.
3700 gardens will open this year on behalf of the NGS. That's a lot of gardens and gardeners, industriously priming their private gardens for us to visit, garden owners which are keen to share ideas, experiences, successes (and failures) with us, whilst raising money for charity. Together through the NGS they hope to raise £3 million in 2010. And just a cursory flick through this years Yellow Book (which lists dates, entry fees and gardens open by area) reveals several gardens of appeal close to me. So I shall endeavour to do my bit for the NGS, whilst partaking of one of the joys of life, gardens. This year I am going to diary, then visit, as many NGS gardens I can. www.ngs.org.uk
The picture is of Great Dixter's produce table carrying the weight of some stunning dahlia varieties, taken in October of last year.