This year has been unbelievable and if you had told me a year ago we would have had to close in 2020 due to a global pandemic; I would have laughed in disbelief.
Sadly this is exactly what happened this Spring with a national lockdown closing businesses 3 weeks after we opened for the 2020 season.
Stuart and I have worked solidly this year to keep the garden maintained and all our plants and Bonsai healthy, and it has been very challenging. With many jobs sadly being put on the back-burner as we had to prioritise the most vital work and didn’t have our wonderful staff due to being furloughed.
We built and launched an online Shop offering mail-order on a selection of our products and then got to work on making alterations to our business to allow us to safely open to the public again when the lockdown was lifted.
Having a booking system and asking visitors to book prior to their visit has been the biggest adjustment; but thankfully having the system in place and visitors being so wonderfully willing to adjust with us; have allowed us to reopen and keep everyone safe.
Perspex screens, one-way systems, new pathways built, floor tape, Covid-information signs, face-masks and gallons of hand sanitiser resulted in a very clean and safe premises and feedback on our hard-work has been wonderful from visitors which has meant the absolute world to me this last few months.
With this year being so full of anxiety and uncertainty I have found myself spending as much time in the garden as possible; here at the Japanese Garden and at my home. Managing to grow some vegetables has been a highlight of my year together with getting to see and chat to customers in the shop (through the screens). Having missed the social interaction during the lockdown I was so pleased to get back to seeing people and it has made me realise how much of an impact being around people makes to ones mental well-being.
This is also true of being around plants; I feel certain that my time spent in the garden has helped this year and many visitors felt the benefit of being in the garden too.
I would like to thank everyone who came to visit us here at the garden this season and supported us during this surreal time.
Stuart and I couldn’t be more grateful for the people that have helped us; our family, our friends, our amazing staff and every single visitor who spent time here during these last 3 months. Thank you so much.
As we now face another National Lockdown I hope everyone reading this will stay safe and well over the winter.
We we be closed throughout November for our refurbishments but depending how we get on we may reopen. I will announce any reopening plans as soon as we know – Please watch this space.
Thank you everyone!
Natalie & Stuart