Jonathan & Denise >
This is the gate through which visitors enter the walled garden.
The not-so-very-small print?
Private Garden : No exploring, No Dogs – Thank You!
We added that to our gate notice, early in 2016, because we were increasingly finding people exploring the garden without asking permission, to the point we felt it didn’t even feel like our own garden any more.
So why is it, then, that we still find come across folk – sometimes entire families, sometimes even with a dog (on a lead) wandering around the garden, tramping on borders, peering into our greenhouses (we keep the doors locked), commenting on this or that, children climbing on fences or walls? We’ve even caught folk helping themselves to our soft fruit!
We try to be courteous : “Can we help you?”. It’s become a fixed expression, just like our faces.
Answers are variations on a theme of ‘No’ :
- I’m/We’re just looking – if that’s alright.
[The question-tag is optional, but sounds more like a statement.]
- Do you have an salad leaves I/we can buy?
[Nowhere is there anything that says we sell vegetables.]
- Just admiring your greenhouse-reinforcements/chickens/compost-heaps/blackcurrants/gooseberries!
[Do you think we can pay utility bills in complements instead of cash?]
- My wife’s in your shop … she’s sure to buy something
[but it turns out the wife was also ‘just looking’ – but at our craft work, not the garden, and has already left]
Us : “The garden is private. It says so on the gate you came in through”.
(Another fixed expression – we’ve had lots of practice.)
Them: “Oh I’m/we’re so sorry, I/we didn’t know/see/realize! I’ll/we’ll leave now.”
It would be different if they’d come to the house to pay for something they wanted, and took the opportunity to ask. Depending on circumstances, we might well say “That’s fine – but look out for the hosepipes and other trip-hazards”. But they don’t ask – they just take.
Those who grant themselves the liberty of exploring our private garden – they never buy anything – even if left to explore unchallenged (because we’re too busy with something or other). By contrast, those that buy first, only a very few ask – no more than a handful – ask to look round the garden: they seem to be content with what they see from the walk up to the house, and from conversation with us.
The difference is respect. Those who try their luck and slip into the parts of the garden out of sight from the house – before we spot them, these people have no respect for us or our privacy or our garden – or anything. They just take, and have no intention of giving – no intention of encountering us at all, let alone an exchange of conversation and mutual interest. Thankfully, the majority of visitors to our garden show not merely the respect that is due to anyone else’s private person and home, but understanding, appreciation and pleasure in their visit, making the transaction one of true mutual benefit.