06 March 2011 11:19:37
HeadGardener, UnaGrant, Bruno, Liga, Paddy & Mary (Gracedieu), LindaB and Hosta (front)
I think everyone is agreeing that we had a brilliant get-together at Johnstown yesterday. The Garden Centre looked fabulous - from the Sarracenia, giant, flowering bougainvillea, citrus trees, Vanda orchids (which Liga bitterly regrets not buying) to the extensive range of primroses. It was the first taste of a Garden Centre for many of us after the long hard winter and I think we took advantage.
Johnstown had reserved their restaurant conservatory for us and also the outside patio area. The get-together started at 1pm. However, all of us somehow managed to squeeze into the conservatory, where Johnstown were kind enough to take food orders from the tables.
By my calculations, there were 31 garden.ieers in attendance yesterday, 8 partners and friends and 6 people were 'no shows' on the day. The 'no shows' included Drumanagh (Alison), who messaged me that morning and somehow, displaying amazing ingenuity, managed to get her plant swaps to the meeting but not herself.
After eating lunch and chatting for a while, we had our raffle. The prizes were 5 vouchers worth €20 each, kindly donated by Johnstown and a box of roses, donated by LindaB. Linda also organised all the raffle tickets. UnaGrant's little daughter did a great job of choosing the winning numbers.
Next we had our Kris Kindle exchange, where all participants submitted a present and Myrtle and Mairin had the tricky job of assigning numbers to packages and different numbers to people. There was a sticky moment at the end where nobody could figure out why there were two unclaimed presents but then Myrtle and Mairin realised that they hadn't had any presents themselves!
After that, while everyone was all in the one place, we all trooped out to the car park for the plant swap. There were a dizzying number of plants to-ing and fro-ing and and you really needed a list to keep track of what had been promised to who. Poor Bruno seemed to be left with a large shrub he had promised to someone who was not owning up. Last I saw of him he was doing the rounds, calling out in the car park and waving the shrub above his head. I hope he's not still there.
Some people went home then but many of us went back into Johnstown for another round of retail therapy and more tea and cakes. Johnstown eventually booted myself, Liga, Mairin, Violeta and Ingrida out of the restaurant and Garden Centre at 6pm.
From my point of view, it was a fabulous day and the best get-together yet. That was due in no small part to the venue, which we all chose by electoral ballot back before Christmas. It was also wonderful meeting a host of new people - Hosta, Keego, Ingrida, AitAlainn, Cape Daisy, Fintan, Kate, Rhody and Romneya (thank you for the Skimmia, Romneya).
Thank you also to everyone else who gave me plants and books, which I am going to take out of the car now. Please forgive me for not mentioning them all individually but I am a bit overwhelmed. I think the suitcase of snowdrops that Fran laid at my feed was what finally did it!
And thank you also for the Johnstown voucher which you all gave me. I spent a long time deliberating, with advisers Liga and HeadGardener, on what to buy with it as I wanted a single item to commemorate the day. I was very pleased with the large Euonymus alata which I came home with.
Once again, thanks to everyone for a super day and long may our friendships last.