This summer was extra blooming lovely, thanks to another highly successful Open Gardens season for St Luke’s – the ninth since it became an official part of our charity’s calendar of events.
The annual extravaganza sees wonderful gardens across Devon and Cornwall throw open their gates to welcome members of the public, some green-fingered and others there simply to enjoy the peaceful and enchanting surroundings and perhaps a cup of tea, a slice of cake and a plant sale, too.
As well welcoming back the ‘hardy perennials’ – the gardens whose owners kindly open them for St Luke’s each year – we bedded in some new gardens this summer, and some not usually open to the public, giving an exclusive glimpse of hidden gems.
Over 25 dates throughout the season, 108 gardens welcomed 4,783 visitors in total – each of these representing considerable dedication, hard work and often monetary investment of their owners, as well as help from friends and neighbours to make the day a success.
Thanks to entry fees, raffles, plant sales and donations, Open Gardens raised £48,000 this year – plus £10,000 from our generous sponsor, Portcullis Legals.
The continued blossoming of the scheme means it has now brought in over £330,000 for our patient care since it started.
Wayne Marshall, Community Fundraiser for St Luke’s, is the man who tirelessly co-ordinates the many strands of this big annual event. He said: “There’s a real feel-good factor to Open Gardens. The wonderful thing is that the gardens are located in the areas where we provide our specialist care, so not just in the big towns but some of the little villages, too.
“It’s a lovely combination of gardens with histories that in some cases stretch back hundreds of years – often with amazing specimens – to the pretty smaller gardens that make up the popular village walkabouts.
“What’s fantastic is the way it brings people in those communities together – from residents growing plants in advance to schools making scarecrows and people baking cakes. There are hundreds of volunteers and community groups involved and I want to say a big thank you to them, as well as to Portcullis Legals whose generous sponsorship also makes a big difference.”
Never one to rest on his laurels(!), Wayne is already busy with planning for next year’s Open Gardens, which will be extra special as the scheme celebrates its tenth anniversary.
When asked to reveal some of the treats in store, he said: “We already have 18 dates booked in for garden openings, and much-loved local artist and St Luke’s Patron Brian Pollard will be designing a special anniversary brochure for us, which is really exciting.
“I really look forward to Open Gardens. It’s just a lovely thing to be part of.”