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Saturday, 02 August 2014

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See six of the best

LAST year the National Gardens Scheme raised £2.6m for charity, as nearly 4,000 gardens invited in the public in exchange for a small donation.

Every summer, the people of Leece look forward to doing their bit for a worthy cause, while sharing their labour of love with the wider world.

On June 17, six gardens in the village will open their gates to showcase some of South Cumbria’s best-kept secrets.

Each village in Cumbria has their own weekend to shine, but in such a peaceful environment, it is hard to imagine a better place than Leece to spend the day looking at the hundreds of different species of plants on display.

Enid Cockshott, who is a regular participant in the National Garden Scheme, says: “We have had to juggle our weekend about a bit because of the bank holiday weekend and to avoid a clash with the Holker Garden Festival.

“It is hard work choosing a good date for everyone’s gardens to look their best, but this weekend does tend to work for us all.

“The whole village gets involved, whether it’s helping with catering or baking cakes, so it’s good for the community.

“Everyone puts a lot of work in, too, and it is especially rewarding because it is for a good cause. I’ve had cancer twice myself, so it feels good to give something back.”

Throughout the day there will be plants on sale in the village hall, not to mention the food and refreshments provided by the villagers, but the focus is very much on the six gardens of varying size and individual style, which between them have a number of interesting features, including; a willow yurt; a white garden; a meadow maze; a wildlife pond; and all the alpines, perennials, shrubs and climbers you can think of.

Enid’s one-acre Winander garden is a three-decade project that evolves year on year as she adds more features, centred around her beloved vegetable plot.

“We’re known as a nation of gardeners, and it’s something I’ve always enjoyed,” she says. “I lost my husband, Andy, 11 years ago, and having the garden to look after really helped me. When we first came here 30 years ago, it was all overgrown – it wasn’t a garden at all. We started keeping animals on it, then we grew vegetables. It hasn’t been a garden like this for very long.

“My garden looks different each year, and all six gardens are very different from each other. Every single garden and gardener is unique and that’s why people have that interest in coming to see other people’s - you never see two the same.”

Just over the road from Enid’s garden is the home of Vivien and Neil Hudson. The pair, who help out at two of South Cumbria’s most popular gardens – Holehird and Swarthmoor Hall – helped to bring the National Garden Scheme to Leece, and are exhibiting their garden one final time before they move away from the area.

Vivien says: “We have over 800 species from all over the world, and the beauty of it is that you can leave it for three months and it just takes care of itself. It is very much a plant garden and they all compete without ever really getting overgrown.

“It probably looks better later in the summer, but there is always something in bloom all year round.

“We organised the first event in Leece, but it had been talked about for a few years. It has been brilliant for the village, and we’re really looking forward to it this year.”

Leece village gardens will be open on Sunday June 17, from 11am to 5pm.

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