Songs, sunshine and stunning gardens made for a fantastic atmosphere at the fourth annual Macmillan Coastal Garden Trail last weekend.
The trail got off to a wonderful start in Driftwood, home of trail organiser Geoff Stonebanks, and the Seaford Community Garden.
TV Gardener of the Year 2014, Christine Walkden, was on hand to cut the ribbon at Driftwood, in Marine Drive, Seaford, surrounded by many visitors and was serenaded by a group of singers as she entered the Community Garden in the town.
Geoff said: “ I had invited Christine to be the patron several years ago and she readily agreed on the basis that she may not be able to attend the event in person. I was stunned last Autumn when she confirmed she would visit Seaford and open the trail this year.
“Christine had driven home to Hertfordshire from Manchester on the Friday, then to Seaford early Saturday and left at 1pm to go to Yorkshire for a gardening talk at 8pm. A very busy lady but one who everyone took to with her very down to earth attitude.”
Tom Carter from Macmillan added: “ Christine spoke with such passion and eloquence in advocating Macmillan Cancer Support that visitors were almost moved to tears.“
At 11am on Saturday, July 25, the opening ceremony took place at Driftwood in the presence of local MP Maria Caulfield, Chair of Lewes District Council, Ruth O’Keeffe, and Tom Carter, Macmillan’s fundraising manager, along with trail organiser Geoff Stonebanks and the many garden visitors who had been waiting since 10:30am to see Christine.
After the opening, Geoff gave Christine a tour of the garden and she posed for pictures. Tom Carter’s two young children were captivated by the flowers in the garden and by the pet tortoise, Hector. Many wanted a picture with Christine, among them ex-Seaford Mayor Linda Wallraven and Geoff’s Mum, Barbara, who was selling tickets to the event.
Geoff said: “I was quite shocked that visitors had travelled the distances they had to see my garden and then view other gardens on the trail. Angela and Gerald Taylor had travelled up from Paignton in Devon, others from Essex and London as well as the Surrey borders.”
After spending time at Driftwood, Geoff took Christine to the Seaford Community Garden where she was greeted on her arrival by the assembled choir. Many visitors were in the garden to see her and she was given a tour of the plot.
On returning to Driftwood, she talked again with visitors and then drove north for her next engagement. Many visitors sat and enjoyed the tea and cakes on offer in the gardens too.
Geoff said: “Saturday was a marvellous day with much money raised for Macmillan.
“Sunday, however, was a complete disaster with the dreadful high winds and rain that prevailed most of the day. Many gardens saw no visitors at all. At 21 Tor Road in Peacehaven, garden owners Gerard and Duncan were taken aback when the congregation from their church handed over £137 to help compensate for lost monies due to the weather.
“Sheena Bourn in Eastbourne took visitors into her conservatory for tea and cake to look out on the garden and two intrepid ladies from Hailsham phoned to see if I was open before driving to Seaford and spending one-and-a-half hours in the garden and the heated summer house for tea and cake.”
The event raised £6,089 for Macmillan Cancer Support, and Geoff was confident that had the weather on Sunday been better, it would have reached £10,000.
More can be read about the event at www.macmillangardentrail.co.uk.
Macmillan Cancer Support is a registered charity that is a source of support, helping with all the things that people affected by cancer want and need. The Macmillan teams also help carers, families and communities, and fund nurses, other specialist health care professionals and build cancer care centres.
For information, visit www.macmillan.org.uk.
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