PR: Horticultural havens set to open in support of local hospice care

Image of artist Brian Pollard holding a bright landscape painting. Text reads: Open Gardens, win this painting by Brian Pollard.


A local hospice charity is marking the return of one of its most popular annual fundraising events by inviting people to enter an online competition for the chance to win an original painting by internationally acclaimed, Plymouth-based artist Brian Pollard.

Brian has donated the captivating land and seascape to St Luke’s Hospice Plymouth, of which he is a Patron, to help the charity launch its Open Gardens scheme for this spring and summer, following a hiatus to the event last year because of Covid-19 safety restrictions. The charming image also features on the cover of the flyer promoting the scheme, which sees kind-hearted owners of beautiful gardens across Devon and Cornwall throw open their gates in aid of St Luke’s and its specialist end of life care for local people with terminal illness.

Brian, who works from his Plymouth studio and regularly shares his new work on Instagram, enjoys visiting the gardens each year with his wife Jane. He said: “As a former GP, I know just how needed St Luke’s is and the important difference it makes to local families at a very tough time. The Open Gardens scheme is one of the most enjoyable and inspiring ways people can show their support for the charity and help build its resilience for the future, and I’m delighted to be able to help by donating my painting as a competition prize.

“In it, I chose to highlight the beauty of the South Hams because St Luke’s care extends beyond Plymouth to people living the rural surrounding areas, and the waves on the sea are a reminder of the therapeutic power of the water that surrounds our coast.”

This year’s Open Gardens season gets underway on 18 April with the opening of Lower Coombe Royal, near Kingsbridge, where 8 acres of gardens and woodland await visitors. Next to open, on 21 April, is Weir Cottage near Bere Alston, which was originally owned by gardener and artist Lady Harriet Thiselton-Dyer, wife of the third curator of Kew gardens. This will be followed on 25 April by country house Gnaton Hall, near Yealmpton, where visitors can discover stunning terraced lawns and walled gardens as well as peaceful woodland walks.

With more gardens set to be added to the programme over coming weeks, St Luke’s is also introducing a special event likely to appeal to young families in particular – its first-ever Open Farm, kindly sponsored by NFU Mutual. On 4 August, South Battisborough Farm, on the road to Mothecombe Beach, will welcome visitors in aid of the charity, giving them the opportunity to see a working farm in action, with cows being milked, calves being fed with a maize maze and the opportunity to try their delicious Surfing Cow ice cream.

Also new is St Luke’s online booking system for Open Gardens and Open Farms, which has replaced the pay in-person on the day process of previous years. Tickets, which are £5 per adult, can be purchased here, where there are details of all the locations taking part in this year’s scheme.

Wayne Marshall, St Luke’s Community Fundraiser and Open Gardens Co-ordinator, said: “It’s exciting to be back with another diverse selection of beautiful gardens to inspire and delight visitors, and the addition of our first Open Farm makes this year’s scheme extra special. We’re really grateful to the garden and farm owners for taking part and to the many volunteers who roll up their sleeves to help at each event.

“Our new online booking system is easy to access and straightforward to use, and very importantly it means we can manage visitor numbers for each event in a Covid-safe way.

“We can also easily update event information if, for any reason, details change. This is particularly helpful at the moment given the ongoing uncertainty of what may or may not happen as lockdown restrictions ease.

“I want to encourage people to check our website regularly as we will be adding new gardens and farms over the next few weeks and months. It is also on our website that they can enter our exciting competition to win the painting Brian has so kindly donated. We are very grateful to him for his ongoing support for St Luke’s.”

Funds raised from ticket sales and the competition will help St Luke’s continue to give personalised care to terminally ill people in their last months, weeks and days of life, providing crucial emotional support for them and their families, too.