Yesterday was a very special day here at the greener dream. Our long awaited Amnesty Open Garden day had finally arrived.
For the last week of preparations we have been very lucky to have our family and Syrian friends helping out with putting finishing touches to the garden and putting up the marquees.
Café shelf building team
Other friends have kindly baked and donated all sorts of delicious goods and we have been very busy ourselves baking and storing muffins in various friends’ freezers.
It was a lovely build up to the day itself, all of us working together for a great cause and to create a comfortable and enjoyable space for the visitors to the open garden.
Friday evening and yesterday morning was very windy and we had to do some emergency repair work with duct-tape to the marquees. A couple of times we were worried that the whole roof would fly away and leave us with only twisted metal bars and shreds of plastic walls.
Luckily that did not happen and we had a few hours of work in the morning preparing the Café and Welcome table and create some different seating areas around the garden for visitors.
This lovely lady has been a member of Amnesty for over 35 years in the UK and travelled across the water to sit at our welcome table and greet the guests.
We had a big papier-mâché head left over from the Patrick’s day parade and thought we should use him as a donation box. Apparently he was a bit scary and confusing for the visitors so we had to abandon him in a corner and go for the classic plastic bucket with a slot in the lid after a while.
Once the visitors started arriving we largely forgot to take pictures as we were busy chatting and enjoying ourselves. The weather got steadily worse throughout the afternoon with driving rain and gusts of wind but despite these conditions over 100 visitors came for a visit. If the sun had made an appearance we are sure that number would have been much higher. But if there is one thing you can’t plan for it is the Irish weather.
We were not really prepared for the impact the garden and our buildings would have on the visitors. We see it every day but many were blown away and words like fantastic, mind-blowing, calming, unbelievable and amazing were uttered throughout the day. The thing people were most surprised by was the fact that we have lived here for just over four years and the garden is already very productive and well established.
It was lovely to talk to everyone, listen to stories about other people’s gardens and answer questions.
Many visitors enjoyed a cup of tea or coffee with a home baked treat and a friend had kindly donated various small herbs in pots that could be bought for a donation.
These young ladies spent hours working in the Café and talking to guests.
Here you can see some visitors picking berries for Amnesty.
People were very generous with donations and at the end of the day we had collected €965 in total! We thank our kind sponsors, Duffy’s Supervalu and O’Hara Coaches Ballaghaderren, for their input into the day. We will have to pay the bills for the porta-loos and the partially sponsored shuttle bus from this sum but there will still be a nice big amount to send of to Amnesty. And we have to keep in mind that the weather was going from bad to worse over the course of the afternoon. If it had been sunny we would have been able to collect even more money. Many visitors said that they would love to come back next year and bring friends and family so we are confident that we should give it a go and make this a yearly event.
Rain soaked bunting drying on the line to be put away for next years event.
It has been a lovely experience to open up our garden to visitors and we are so grateful for all the visitors, refugees, friends and family who helped make the day extra special. Our hearts beat as one.