The owners of King John’s Lodge have opened their garden for over 25 years and on visiting it was clear to see why the garden is so popular.
The garden is run by Harry Cunningham, whose parents first opened the garden for the NGS. The garden opens three or four times a year, with the events in the summer months being hugely popular. Harry explained that the openings work very well for both him and the NGS and that the open weekends definitely bring in the crowds.
I visited the gardens with my mum during the event and we had a great day exploring. I was struck by how spacious and peaceful the garden was, despite the many visitors. The garden is spread across four acres, with the stunning backdrop of the house itself providing a lovely setting.
Walking through the garden, there are many different areas of interest. The mix of wild gardens, ponds, apple tree walks and formal gardens means the garden has a wide ranging appeal. The highlight for me was the secret pond at the front of the house, reached by a secluded woodland path. Next to the pond is a beautiful statue of Oberon and Titania.
It was lovely to be able to visit the garden on Mothering Sunday, as it gave us both a chance to take a step back from our day to day lives and spend some quality time together, as well as the opportunity to sample some delicious home made cake.
The proceeds from both cake and ticket sales will go to the NGS, which then allows them to support their beneficiary charities, one of which is Hospice UK. On Sunday the tea room alone made £180.
The garden was peaceful and relaxing, and there were visitors of all ages. Some were there to shop for plants, some to explore the many aspects of King John’s Lodge, and some were simply sitting on the benches and watching the world go by.
Many hospices have gardens for patients and their families, and these are relaxing spaces for reflection and enjoyment. Visiting King John’s Lodge, it was clear to see how gardens can be so beneficial for the wellbeing of patients and their families. They are a place in which families can relax and enjoy being close to nature.
I spoke to garden owner Harry about the opening on Sunday and he explained that, despite the weather this winter meaning that the plants in bloom were more staggered than usual, for visitors ‘it isn’t really about what’s happening in the garden, it’s just a very tranquil place’.
The National Gardens Scheme is Hospice UK’s biggest funder, and has donated over £3.5 million in support of hospice care since 1997. The NGS supports Hospice UK in a number of ways, from funding our national care support team to sponsoring awards recognising hospices innovation and contribution to volunteering.