Liz Nicholls and Shirley Baxter, accompanied by Shirley's husband, Graham, and Liz's brother, David, had the signs up and their fee-gathering table set up in very good time and did a very efficient job of collecting the cash and the e-mail addresses. More people came than expected, so both hosts will have been happy with the results
We were very sorry to be told that John Alston had had a severe stroke during last year, and , whilst he had recovered his speech, was still unable to show us round the garden. He kindly described what we would see looking good and provided us with tour guides in the shape of two gardeners, Nathan and James.
We were also given a brief history of the coat of arms, which contained 16 'quarters' of the arms of other families which had been added to the Alston family arms.
Wisteria, Magnolias and other early flowering shrubs were very visible. We were surprised by the buds on Delphiniums in the walled border. The Guinea fowl were surprised by us and made a hasty exit through a grove of bamboo beside the huge pond.
Mr Alston had been very welcoming, but had also said he could do with an inch of rain, which, sadly, he didn't get today.
Over the longer lunch break that Linda had arranged for us, I spotted a few members at Peter Beales Nursery, and others owned up to having made it to Walnut Tree Nursery.
At Seamere we were met by Judy Watson, who showed us 'her cowslips', which turned out to be an almighty field full of them, This was part of a Stewardship project, which included a dipping pond.
The garden brought forth anguish and envy on a number of fronts, I noticed, with the range of really interesting plants, including a pretty parasite. Judy usefully explained that Lovage can be used for celery flavour in soups etc. Following a very interesting guided prowl round the mere, the various areas of the garden, and again, with a brief history of the house, Judy served us very welcome tea and cake ,but not before I had snapped Graham by the moongate.