Blooming marvellous


- Credit: Archant

Proud gardeners across Somerset will be opening their gates to the public as part of the first National Gardens Festival Weekend.


Overbrook - Credit: Archant

Set to be the largest garden visiting event in history, with 800 openings planned in England and Wales over two days, the festival is being organised by the National Gardens Scheme (NGS).

It aims to raise £500,000 for nursing and caring charities, including Macmillan Cancer Support, Marie Curie Cancer Care and Carers Trust.

Thanks to the hard work of garden owners and the enthusiasm of visitors, the NGS has donated £25million to nursing and caring charities over the past 10 years and is Macmillan Cancer Support’s biggest ever donor.

More than half a million people visited gardens opened in support of the NGS last year.

This year, for the very first time, the NGS invited as many gardens as possible to open over the two days for a unique weekend of garden charity giving on 15 and 16 June. Traditionally one of the NGS’ busiest weekends, the 2013 dates also coincide with Father’s Day.

Those taking part include private individuals, allowing the public to take a rare peak at the fruits of their labours.

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In some communities gardens will be opening as a group, such as a selection in Wedmore. Situated eight miles from Wells, picturesque Wedmore is the proud winner of Gold awards in the RHS Britain in Bloom competition.

Gardens opening in the village from 2-6pm are Allington House, a corner plot in heart of Wedmore, Cotswold, a small retirement garden on edge of Wedmore Brook, Damson Cottage, a walled cottage garden, Manor Lodge, a walled garden with fruit trees and Pound Cottage, a new south-facing, terraced garden.

Overbrook Cottage Garden in neighbouring Cocklake will also be open over the festival weekend.

The Wedmore owners came forward after Anne Blandford was asked by the NGS to find fellow gardeners to take part in the festival weekend.

The gardens were inspected by Somerset County Organiser for the NGS Lucy Hetherington.

“All the gardens must be approved by the NGS county organiser,” explains Lucy.

“After this the group needs to nominate a co-ordinator who will deal with the administrative tasks.

“As the open day approaches the group needs to work together to produce a map of the village, decide where the teas are going to be and put up enough yellow road signs so that visitors can find the gardens, as well as making sure the gardens are all looking wonderful.”

Lucy says there are huge benefits that arise from these group openings for everyone concerned.

“For the garden visitor it’s a wonderful day out seeing gardens of different styles all close together for a very reasonable price.

“For the garden owner, working with other gardens towards a group opening is a very enjoyable experience and many firm, long-lasting friendships have been made as the community joins in to make the open day a success,” she said.

Group openings allow beautiful small gardens, which do not have the required 45 minutes of interest to be approved, to open for the NGS to join the scheme.

And it also means more gardens can be opened to the delight of visitors – and more money can be raised for charity. n