Sunday, 23 June 2019
The day has finally arrived…and even the sun made a guest appearance after a spell of really wet weather.
There was an air of anticipation across the village. For the past few weeks we have been given sneak peeks on social media of what we can expect to see in the annual Croston Open Gardens event. Our gardening appetites had been whetted with the glimpses of new gardens on display, the highly-expected opening of the new Recreation Ground and talk of a rare opportunity to see the restored Chapel at Croston Hall.
And, with expectations high, the day certainly didn’t disappoint.
But where to start?
Tea At Mad Hatter’s Anyone?
Walking past the old bridge, it was hard not to miss a row of chairs with rabbit ears and analogue watches stencilled all over and a chair with the Queen of Cards motifs on. The chairs formed part of the art installation created by local artist Charlie Holt who surprises the village with a new idea every year. This year the theme was Alice in Wonderland.
The best thing about Charlie’s designs is that he always involves the community. Whether it is the kids from the local school who painted Mad Hatter’s tea party pictures on the sticks which were then displayed in the artist’s studio garden. Or asking the villagers to use their imagination and create the best Alice in Wonderland inspired chair. So even if you can’t open your garden to the public on the day, there are always other ways of taking part and supporting this charitable event.
There was something magical about entering the private grounds of Croston Hall and walking towards the Chapel. There was a feeling of unknown and an anticipation of what we were going to see once we crossed the bridge.
This year the visitors to the Open Gardens have been given an amazing and quite a rare treat. The event hub has been set up in the newly restored privately owned Chapel which used to be a Catholic Church and before that a private chapel of the De Trafford family who had lived there since 19th century.
The grounds outside the Chapel had stalls selling beautiful fresh flowers and plants from the Potting Sheds who were one of the sponsors and you could also purchase terracotta pots from a local potter. There was also a food van and, of course, a Prosecco stand. The church pews became a lovely seating area where you could sit down and enjoy the most delicious homemade cakes and sweet treats sold inside. The entrance to the Chapel was beautifully decorated with flowers and foliage and the inside, as imagined, was truly stunning. I was particularly drawn to the stained glass windows above the altar which were letting in just enough colour and light to give the room that special ambience.
The Magnificent Gardens
As promised by the social media teasers, we were presented with nine totally new gardens to explore.
The beautifully hand drawn map of the village showed us the locations of the gardens and these were well spread out through the village. To be honest it was just a perfect number as there was quite a bit of walking involved. I actually saw a couple who hopped on their foldable bikes at some stage!
It is fair to say that each and every garden on display was amazing. We saw big, old and established gardens with lots of open space and even a swimming pool. There were smaller gardens with manicured lawns, mature planting and hedges.
I enjoyed strolling through the pretty cottage gardens full of colourful flowers and buzzing bees. It was interesting to see that a few of the gardens had separate kitchen gardens and even chickens and ducks proving that a lot of people are choosing to be more sustainable.
We were also treated to a special garden which was an outdoor heaven for any child featuring dens, climbing frames, a mud pie station and the pit fire which was used for making s’mores on the day.
And the lesson of the day? Always be prepared for surprises. Because what garden would you expect behind a house called “Box Cottage”? It turned out to be huge and featured a summer house, swinging chairs, lots of colourful plants and it led to a private croft which I am sure keeps the owner busy with the mower.
Croston Recreation Park is Open
It was the moment the whole village has been waiting for and it perfectly coincided with the Croston Open Gardens event. This project led by Friends of Croston Recreation Ground has seen the transformation of the old recreation ground from, basically, a field to the new park that can be enjoyed by people of all ages.
It is a well designed public space where the residents can relax, have a picnic, use the outside gym and the kids can play in the dedicated play area. And, most importantly, the majority of work was carried out by the village residents who volunteered with planting, making the furniture and getting everything ready. The park is a wonderful example of what a community can achieve.
Till next time!
The day was a great success. From the organisers (Croston Together) who got everything to the fine detail, the sponsors (The Potting Sheds and Maria B Evans) who are instrumental in charity events like this and, most importantly, to the owners of the beautiful gardens on this year’s display.
There are so many stunning gardens in the village hiding behind the gates that we are not aware of. There are also people out there who want to share their passion and their green oases with the public which we are so grateful for.
So, see you next year!