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Old Town opens its gardens

The open gardens season organised by St Michael’s Hospice in Hastings and Rother is upon us – in the Old Town the gates are thrown open on Tuesday 14 June, as Judy Parkinson explains.

“The soul cannot thrive in the absence of a garden,” according to Thomas More, Tudor philosopher, lawyer, martyr and saint. The soul of Hastings Old Town is sustained by many things – fish, beer, pirates, music, bric-a-brac, fireworks, carnivals – but not least it is enriched by the gardens that flourish, sometimes secretly behind closed gates, only a few steps away from the beaten tracks and narrow twitterns.

gardens 3On Tuesday 14 June, Old Town garden owners welcome the public on behalf of the annual St Michael’s Hospice Open Garden Scheme, offering visitors a chance to enjoy and admire the atmospheres, the tranquility, the colours, the views, the creativity and the ingenuity on show. Perhaps visitors can also take the opportunity to replenish their souls a little into the bargain.

For the gardeners the timing for showing off their little bit of heaven is everything. Will the Angels’ Trumpets be blooming? Will the Little Rambler rose be climbing the cloisters? The rhododendron will have said amen, but the Nigella is late this year. Will she be on time? Will the slugs and snails beg forgiveness? Of course they won’t. Will the sun shine? Possibly.

gardens 4There is everything to praise about open gardens. Visitors have a chance to step into otherwise private gardens and explore with a fresh eye the high street and its numerous twitterns and hidden corners. Garden owners, who spend the year planning for the big day, can then enjoy the fruits of their labours long into the autumn.

But most significantly St Michael’s Hospice is the main beneficiary. They hope to raise at least as much as last year’s impressive and much-needed £45,000 from the 2016 summer season of open gardens throughout Hastings and Rother. This year there are 52 open gardens, including 16 new ones. The scheme also increases awareness of the services offered by St Michael’s Hospice.

For the owner, each garden is their own personal version of utopia: a perfect place in which to comfort the soul and commune with the elements (and the slugs), to potter and contemplate. We can thank St Thomas More himself for not only promoting gardens as food for the soul, but also for inventing the concept of utopia.

 

Hastings Old Town Open Gardens Tuesday 14 June, 10.30am-4pm. Addresses here. Admission £5.

As part of the season there are also open garden days at Mountfield (Sat 11 June), Bexhill and Little Common (Tues 21 June), Battle (Sat 25 June), Etchingham (Tues 28 June), Ninfield (Tues 5 July), Ashburnham (Tues 12 July), Northiam (Tues 19 July), Iden (Tues 26 July), Brightling (Wed 24 August) and Peasmarsh (Sat 15 October). Details on the same web page.

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Posted 16:39 Wednesday, Jun 8, 2016 In: Home Ground

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