Gardeners thanked for years of support

A dozen supporters of the National Gardens Scheme in Norfolk were recognised yesterday for helping to raise tens of thousands of pounds for charity over the past two decades.

A dozen supporters of the National Gardens Scheme in Norfolk were recognised yesterday for helping to raise tens of thousands of pounds for charity over the past two decades.

Anthea Foster, county organiser of the Norfolk branch of the NGS, said that the awards were made to gardeners who have opened for the national charity for more than 10 years.

"We're extremely grateful for the dozens of gardens who open for charity," said Mrs Foster, who is also a member of the charity's national council. "Last year, the NGS raised more than £2m, with the lion's share going to Macmillan Cancer Relief and Marie Curie Cancer Care."

She said that about £50,000 was raised for the NGS last year in the county by more than 50 supporters of the charity.

NGS yellow leaflets promoting about 60 gardens open in Norfolk during the coming season will be distributed to leading garden centres and information points.

Over the coming months, another half a dozen new gardens would be open for charity, said Mrs Foster, who with her husband, Neil, opens her garden and snowdrop walks at Lexham Hall, near Litcham, on Sunday.

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"Although we don't have as many gardens open as other counties, there is keen interest in visiting these private gardens," she added.

Mrs Foster and her colleague Fiona Black, of Ridlington, near North Walsham, made the presentations at County Hall yesterday.

"This is the first time that the awards have recognised gardeners who have opened for more than 10 years. In the past, gardeners only qualified for opening for more than 20 or 25 years," said Mrs Foster.

Graham Innes, who is a committee member of the Plantation Garden Trust, which has restored the three-acre Victorian garden set in a medieval chalk quarry near St John's Cathedral in Earlham Road, also received an award on behalf of the charity. "We've supported NGS every year for the past 15 years," he said.

And Brundall gardener Janet Muter, who has opened her two-acre Lake House water gardens, was also delighted to receive an award for 18 years' support of the charity.

Awards (and date of first opening) were presented to:

1954 - West Lodge, Aylsham (Mr and Mrs Jonathan Hirst).

1986 - Stow Hall, Stow Bardolph (Lady Rose Hare).

1989 - St Michael's Close, Aylsham (Michael Davies); Lake House, Brundall (Mr Garry and Mrs Janet Muter).

1990 - Exotic Garden, Thorpe, Norwich (Will Giles).

1992 - Plantation Garden Trust, Earlham Road, Norwich (Graham Innes).

1993 - Dutch House, Ludham (Mrs Peter Seymour); The Mowle (Mrs N Green) and the Garden in an Orchard, Bergh Apton (Bill and June Boardman).

1995 - Old Vicarage, East Ruston (Alan Gray).

1996 - Old Rectory, Baconsthorpe (Tessa and David McCosh); Bradenham Hall, East Bradenham (Chris and Panda Allhusen); Desert World, Santon Downham (Mr and Mrs Barry Gayton).

Website - www.norfolkgardens.org.