BONCHURCH did its level best last year but its effort only served to underline the fact that there ain’t no substitute for reality.

Like much of the happenings in the rest of the world Bonchurch Open Gardens was in 2020 constrained by Covid to a virtual reality.

Scroll through our gallery of pictures above to see more Bonchurch gardens...

But today (Saturday) and tomorrow, as the effects of the pandemic fade, the village community association hopes the fallow year will contribute to making this one a fundraising record breaker.

It has always been one of my favourites, not just because the gardens are so varied and the village so atmospheric, but it’s obligatory to pop in to one of my favourite pubs for a pint straight from the barrel.

Isle of Wight County Press:

There are some gorgeous gardens to be explored.

This year 14 owners have agreed to open their garden gates to visitors between 1pm and 5pm. They include some old faves and interesting new gardens too.

Organisers say the weekend presents a special opportunity to catch a glimpse of what lies behind the garden walls of one of the Isle of Wight’s most delightful and charming villages.

There will be plants on sale from an established plantsman as well as several gardeners selling progeny from some of their prized plants.

Entry to all the gardens is by a programme costing a fiver at any of the gardens or at The Hub at the pond. It includes a map.

Strawberry cream teas will be on sale by Bonchurch Pond until 5.30pm and there is a free shuttle bus running between Leeson Road and Shore Road for those who either can’t, or don’t want, to manage the hills.

The bus can also be hailed at any safe stopping point en-route and, of course, Covid restrictions will be in place on it and in the gardens.

  • I had an email the other day from “Distressed” of Calbourne, aka my friend known as the Duchess.

The distressed Duchess told me: “All is not spiffing in Calbourne. This year I am plagued by sawfly on my gooseberries and redcurrants and wondered if you knew how I could prevent them for next year?”

She has employed manual squishing or feeding them to her chickens, or a glass or two of wine to help her forget her woes, but asked if I knew of other methods of control without using harmful chemicals.

I have always favoured mechanical control but you can also get birds to do it for you by placing a feeder near the affected plants.

Cultivation of the soil around plants is also an excellent preventer and eliminator, especially in the pupal stage by exposing the critters to natural predation.

But, probably the best natural solution is the use of diatomaceous earth.

The ground-up prehistoric algae fossils from which it is made will paralyse and kill the pests.

Time for another glass of wine, Duchess, this time in celebration!


Divide clumps of bearded Iris so they have time to form roots and flower buds for next year before the cold weather arrives.

Take cuttings from your favourite tender plants for overwintering indoors. Cuttings can also still be taken from shrubs and border perennials.

Cut back faded perennial plants to keep borders tidy.

Look out for clematis wilt. Symptoms include wilting leaves and black discolouration of the leaves and stems. Cut out all affected material and dispose of it in your household waste.

Train cucumber stems upwards to make the most of the space available. Simply tie in their long stems to vertical wires or use cane supports to create a pole wigwam.

If you’re growing aubergines, pinch out the growing tip once they have five or six fruits. Pick fruits while they are young. You can expect to start harvesting in late summer.