Open garden events reveal unsung skills

The Walled Garden at Longhirst. Picture by Keith Cochrane.
The Walled Garden at Longhirst. Picture by Keith Cochrane.
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Visiting gardens is a popular seasonal experience that offers much more than a pleasant afternoon out, tea and cake, or a purchase from the plant stall.

It’s a lovely social occasion, a chance to see what mysteries lie behind a fence, wall or hedge, and a chance to see inspirational ideas.

I love seeing ‘Gardens Open’ in a village because they are so revealing of unsung horticultural skills and innovation.

And what better reason to support the event if the proceeds are going towards a community project.

If you can empathise with these thoughts, Longhirst Village is the place to be over the coming weekend.

Its Open Gardens and Church Flower Festival takes place on Saturday and Sunday, from 11am until 5pm (church closing 4pm on Sunday).

Adult entry is £5 per day, accompanied children free, and dogs on leads are welcome.

Funds raised will go toward the upkeep of the Village Hall and St John’s Church, two key village buildings.

Our Favourite Poems and Rhymes is the theme of St John’s Church Flower Festival, where the lighting has been updated and Victorian floor tiles cleaned.

There will be short musical interludes in the church on Saturday, and a silent auction for the flowers will run over the weekend.

It all begins with a celebration in the church tomorrow evening (Friday), when the Mid-Northumberland Chorus will entertain.

With 11 sumptuous gardens to visit, morning refreshments in the church and afternoon equivalent in the Village Hall to tempt you, there’s plenty to see.

Anything associated with the name of John Dobson, as the glasshouses in The Walled Garden are, deserves more than a glance.

Developed circa 1825, the garden covers an acre, with a wall almost four-metres high, offering protection from the East and North.

The fruit, vegetables and flowers produced were for use in Longhirst Hall.

Current owners Lawrence and Anne Carey acquired the derelict garden and buildings in 1989.

The wall and glasshouses are listed structures, the latter having been restored and now housing a magnificent bougainvillea.

Lawn, shrubs, ponds and trees, you’d expect to find, but the diversity of plants on a living wall – 1,400 in all – wow!

Follow signs to the free car park on approaching the village. Purchase tickets and access the free park and ride bus.

See www.longhirstopengardens.org for more information.