Furzey Gardens in Minstead has reopened its doors to visitors for the first time since March.
The gardens sprung back into action with a sold out members weekend on 6 and 7 June, before opening to the public with another sold-out day on 8 June.
Visitors were able to enjoy bursts of late spring colour, with rhododendrons, candelabra primulas and some azaleas still going strong, whilst new summer flowering plants including the three metre high purple-hazed Echiums are coming into bloom.
Families also relished the chance to search for the garden’s famous fairy doors, including some new dwellings that have appeared over the winter.
Furzey Gardens has been shut in line with government coronavirus guidance since mid-March and has reopening with stringent measures to keep visitors safe. A new entrance and one way route will aid social distancing, the toilets remain closed and the tea rooms are serving a takeaway menu including sandwiches, cakes, cream teas and scones.
Pete White, Head Gardener, said: ‘It was so good to see people back enjoying the gardens after such a long period.’
The popular New Forest garden was only able to reopen after its generous supporters raised more than £4,300 to help the gardens get ready to welcome visitors again.
Some areas of the gardens remain closed, including the play area, with temporary capacity limits for other sections. But with the gardens bursting with colour, the plant nursery brimming with fine specimens and new fairy doors to discover, there is plenty to entertain visitors of all ages.
Furzey Gardens is part of Minstead Trust, a charity supporting people with learning disabilities to live more independent and fulfilled lives. People with learning disabilities work to maintain the gardens and raise new plants in the nursery.
Minstead Trust has lost tens of thousands of pounds in income from closing Furzey Gardens and with restrictions on the numbers that can safely visit, daily costs will continue to exceed income for some time to come. The Trust is relying on the generosity of its visitors and supporters to secure the future of the gardens in order to continue to support vulnerable people.
Every generous donation for tickets and every new membership makes a real difference.
Entrance is by donation, all visitors must pre-book their slot at www.furzey-gardens.org