I hesitate to admit this in public, since anyone who knows how scruffy my garden really is (as opposed to how it’s represented on this blog) will snort in a disbelieving sort of way into their sleeves at the news, but it’s been a secret and long-held ambition to create a garden of a standard where I can think about opening it to the public. A couple of days a year under the wonderful National Gardens Scheme would be enough, like Martyn and Victoria. We’ll overlook the fact they’re both better gardeners than me and almost certainly a great deal tidier.

You’ll note I say “think about”. Actually all I really want is to have the sort of garden I don’t have to apologise for when people outside the immediate family see it. And just in case the sheer impossibility of someone with my shortcomings in the neatness department turning out a spectacularly well-manicured garden like I would need didn’t put me off, I was recently sent a cautionary tale in the form of a poem written by one Caroline Palmer, who clearly has all too much experience in these matters, which has confirmed me in the view that letting people in to admire the garden may be good for your ego, but not so good for your sanity.

When you open to the public
They come along and say
‘Oh what a lovely shrub that is’
And take a piece away.

They also like to know the names
of all the plants on view
They never bring a notebook
So they take the labels, too.

They like a pretty garden
And expect a damn good tea
And though it’s all for charity
take extra cakes for free.

Because they weren’t invited
Inside the house to pass
You’ll find them in the flowerbeds
Their faces to the glass.