A selection of images from the gardens. Click image to see a larger view.
Every garden has a story to tell and visitors to Barrow Upon Soar Open Gardens (BOG) in June meandered through village gardens, hearing and seeing how sometimes-mundane outdoor spaces had been transformed into havens of beauty.
Some 21 locations were open to the public, from canal-side properties, to cottage gardens, charming terrace plots and foliage-covered patios. The iconic Jerusalem Roundabout, The Roundhouse and the War Memorial were also on the visitors’ list.
Approximately 500 people from Barrow and beyond visited the gardens, enjoying the diversity of plants, getting tips from gardeners, seeking inspiration and ideas and enjoying brunches and delicious teas. Committee member Kate Pickering said the event had been a great success and £5,169 had been raised for Rainbows Children’s Hospice. Since 2008, BOG has raised £31,500 for their chosen charities.
Founder member Roger Chappell said Open Gardens had started when he and others decided to put together an event for the Millennium. About six gardens opened the first year and it has grown into a major event on Barrow’s calendar.
Roger’s garden in Beveridge Street evolved from a yard of builders’ rubble and conifers to a thing of beauty with ponds, woodland, borders and fruit trees.
“I had very limited knowledge of gardening when we moved in1982, but I have learned as the years have gone on,” he says.
A garden filled with quirky pieces was that of Ian and Debbie Bruce. Ian is a builder with a keen eye for turning scrap items into pretty containers. A discarded milk churn is now a container for snapdragons; old roofing ridge tiles are filled with lobelia and herbs. An old bottle crate, hopper heads, a sink from a car boot sale, railway sleepers, bottles, teapots ... all have plants cascading from them, creating a mesmerising show.
Another builders’ yard that became a thing of beauty is the garden of Sue Perkins in South Street. Built in 1904, her home was originally a stable yard for The Hunting Lodge.
Sue also has an eye for turning trash into treasure and has used old feed bins and even old sewerage pipes as containers.
Her garden is organic and she uses no pesticides, resulting in birds, bees, butterflies and even a tortoise living in harmony.
Kate and Russell Pickering’ garden has a hen coop being a central point, surrounded by flowers, fruits and vegetables and a well-used “hedgehog highway”.
Glenda Phillips’ garden in The Banks sold bird and bee boxes and other pretty containers in aid of Rainbows. It must hold the record for the highest number of containers in a garden - an estimated 700, collected from far and wide, each with a story to tell.
Tricia and Graham Bradford’s delightful cottage garden in Mill Lane was a treat. BOG visitors relaxed on the deck overlooking the canal, watching the boats go by and enjoying cream teas. One guest told me they were so good, she would be back the next day for another!
This year saw an increase in the number of younger people opening their gardens and Kate says BOG is keen to encourage younger gardeners.
“Retired people have the time to garden but it is great to see people who work and youngsters getting into gardening,” said Kate. A duck competition kept children entertained on the open gardens trail, with two children winning marigolds as prizes.
Catherine and Will Davis were among this year’s first time openers.
Situated opposite the Jerusalem roundabout, their home has a large child and pet-friendly garden for a young family.
“We both work, so gardening is limited to weekends, but we love spending time in the garden with our daughters,” says Will.
The garden has pretty borders, colourful pots, a large lawn and a “secret garden” which is a delight for children and their friends.
Kate wants to encourage new gardeners to think about opening in the 2018 event. “You don’t have to be a member of a garden club or an expert,” she says. “New open gardens could be any village space as long as there is gardening going on, combined with a drive to raise money for Rainbows Children’s Hospice. We hope to arrange a coffee morning for potential new gardens soon where people can come, meet openers and ask questions. Hopefully we can reassure them that it is great fun and a social thing to do- and you do not need to be Monty Don to get in!”
Keep an eye on the BUSCA website, the BOG Facebook page or email firstname.lastname@example.org to register your interest for next year and get on the email list.
‘Barrow Meets Chelsea’ fete on Sept 30th , The Gap, Baptist Church 12 - 4pm. Pop-up gardens will transform the car-park , plant stalls, activities for children (stories – mehndi) and good food - bacon rolls, artisan bread, jams, pickles. Come and have fun. Free entry.