The trials and experiences of a first-time opener

Hurdley Hall was one of the National Garden Scheme’s new gardens last year. We asked the owners, Simon Cain and Simon Quin, about their experience of opening their garden to the public.

This is what they said.
“We’d worked on our garden at Hurdley Hall, near Montgomery, for the past 10 years and as it improved, people started to suggest that we should open to the public. We’d visited lots of NGS gardens locally and thought it might be a great challenge so we asked Susan Paynton, our local NGS contact, to visit us. She was so positive and enthusiastic, we agreed there and then to open our garden the following year.

We decided to open for two weekends (and host groups by arrangement). We had an orchestra on the first weekend and a swing band on the second.  We were unbelievably lucky with the weather – the first weekend was the hottest of the year and for both weekends, it was wall-to-wall sunshine. It proved to be popular – we had over 800 visitors and six garden groups visit. Getting the garden organised was hard work and there were lots of practical things to think about and prepare for, from persuading people to help, organising parking, baking cakes, putting up posters to advertise the event, to making sure there was enough seating.

Every bit of effort was worth it.  Garden visitors are almost universally friendly, positive, funny, quirky and interesting.  There was a wonderful mix of neighbours, locals, as well as visitors from all over the UK and abroad.  We also had a number of people turn up who had lived in the property back in the 1940’s who brought photos and letters relating to the house.  It was hectic on both Sunday afternoons and at one point we had 14 helpers to cope with everything and even then we could hardly keep up with the washing up.  Despite that, the whole experience was just great and we raised just over £4,500.  People were so generous with their support and their comments.  We had a number of cards from people who had visited and one quote from Roger and Jane really summed that up…

“Thank you so much for opening your wonderful garden.  What a positive vibe there was…. sunshine, music, wildflower meadows, woodland walks, delicious cake and such a welcome.  We stayed for hours!” 

Hurdley Hall, Hurdley, Churchstoke, Powys, SY15 6DY will be open again in June and July and by arrangement for groups of 10+ from June to August. Contact Simon Cain, to arrange your visit or click here.

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