Hundreds flock to see secret gardens

ATTRACTED BY GARDENS:  Margaret Willson and Mary Kelly smell roses in a garden

ATTRACTED BY GARDENS: Margaret Willson and Mary Kelly smell roses in a garden

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SOME of Castletown’s hidden gardens opened their gates to the public last weekend in an event organised by Castletown Heritage that was a huge success and raised more than £2,000 for the heritage group.

Despite overcast conditions, hundreds of people wandered around the 13 gardens involved in the event and 650 programmes sold out, plus a further 130 photocopies were handed out.

‘It was a huge success,’ said Castletown Heritage chairman Howard Scarffe. ‘The town had a buzz on both days. We raised over £2,000. People enjoyed going round, it was a great social event. There were loads of people from Ramsey, Peel and Onchan, all round the island. The weather happened to be pretty foul in Douglas, but was ok here Sunday.’

His wife Sheila, Castletown Heritage events co-ordinator, organised the event that was traditionally held every other year until four years ago.

Sheila sadly missed the fruits of her labour as she is in Christchurch, New Zealand, helping her daughter Louise (who has four small children) cope with the aftermath of February’s earthquake.

Howard thanked Friends Provident International, who sponsored the programmes and also opened their garden to the public. Given demand, by mid-afternoon on Saturday instead of handing out one per visitor, people were asked to share. ‘It was hectic,’ he said.

Particular highlights were the garden behind Queen Street, a communal garden described as ‘a marvel of nature’ as they grow vegetables and flowers, despite its exposed condition. ‘People grow potatoes on the beach, it’s a community garden that rambles from one house to another,’ said Howard.

The gardens of Bagnio House, Arbory Street, possibly the oldest recorded domestic garden in the island (mentioned in the 1511 records as the ‘bathhouse and pleasure gardens’ for officers from the castle) also attracted 768 people.

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