GARDEN TREAT AS VILLAGERS THROW OPEN THEIR GATES
It’s been 15 years in the making, but Andrew Cooke is now ready to show off his garden to the public.
More than 5,500 man hours have gone in to the creation of his informal cottage-style garden with its water features, orchard and the riot of flowers.
Mr Cooke is one of 12 villagers in Fiskerton who are throwing their gardens open to the public this weekend in aid of the village hall appeal.
The hall was burned down in 2002, and the village now has to raise Â£315,000 for a new one.
Although most of the money has come in sponsorship and grants, villagers have already raised Â£10,000, and they hope the open gardens session will add to the total.
Mr Cooke, of High Street, Fiskerton, is one of the organisers. “I’ve lived here for 15 years and during that time I’ve always been working on the garden.
“I’ve never had any kind of plan for it. I’ve just added bits and pieces when I felt like it, because I like the informal feel. I think it has the look of a cottage garden, not too structured or tailored, and I think that fits well with the house.
“We also grow some vegetables and herbs that my wife uses to cook with.
“The whole family likes apples so we have some apple trees, all eating apples, Russets, Jean Greaves and Ellison’s Orange and it is lovely to be able to pick them off the tree during the season.
“As the garden is quite small we got dwarf varieties of the apple trees so they don’t spread or take up too much room, but they provide plenty of fruit for us, and we usually give some away to neighbours.”
As well as the pruning and weeding, Mr Cooke also designs water features in his spare time, and has three in his garden.
“We have a formal pond at the front, and then at the back there is a more natural wildlife pond that attracts frogs to it. I also have a little urn that has water trickling out of it.
“I installed them all myself. The urn was quite simple – you just install a sump and a pump and then build up around it. There are plenty of things like roses and chrysanthemums and clematis flowering at the moment so it should be nice and bright for people to look around at the moment.
“I will also have a plant stall in my garden, with plenty of interesting flowers and shrubs for visitors to buy.”
Bob and Jean Hemmings , of Chapel Road, have also been working hard on their garden ever since they retired to Lincolnshire from Kent four years ago.
In that time Mr Hemmings (66) has has transformed the garden.
“We had a fairly big garden in Kent, but things grow very differently up here,” said the retired electrical wholesaler.
“The soil is really good for growing, much less sandy and shingle than the soil in Kent, so we have a lot in the garden here.
“We have been growing fruit and vegetables for a couple of years now, and we have a really good selection now.
“We have lettuces, beetroot and rocket, so during the summer we can wander out and pick our own salad.
“In my opinion that’s the only way to eat salad, I would never buy the bagged stuff from the supermarket.
“In the fruit department we have loganberries, blackcurrant, cherries, greengages and plums.
“We normally just grow enough for the two of us, but if there is any left over we give them to neighbours.”
The Hemmings decided to retire to Lincolnshire for the good quality of life and cheap house prices.
They arrived in Fiskerton by accident and fell in love with the village.
“We didn’t know the area at all, so we spent a long time looking at different properties,” said Mrs Hemmings.
“Every weekend for about six months we would pick some properties advertised on the Internet and go and see them, so in the process of all that house hunting we saw a lot of the county.
“We liked Lincolnshire because of the countryside and the cheap house prices, but Fiskerton was especially attractive.
“We liked this house immediately and it had a nice big garden, but there were lots of conifers growing here when we moved in, which made the place very gloomy.
“It was basically just lawn with a big line of conifers, so we cut them down and put in lots more flower beds and vegetable patches and water features to break up the lawn a bit.
“It is still a work in progress,” added Mr Hemmings. “But that is what I like about working in the garden. There is always something new to do, there is always a new challenge.”
David and Sylvia Ball are also throwing their garden open to the public, and Mrs Ball is running a bric-a-brac stall in their summer house.
Mrs Ball has lived in Church Road for 17 years, so has had plenty of time to get the garden exactly as she likes it.
A large pond dominates the garden, stocked with all kinds of fish including koi carp, goldfish and tench. It also attracts frogs, newts and lots of other wildlife.
“We have put quite a lot of work into the garden,” said Mr Ball. “I tend to do the heavy stuff like digging out the pond and pruning back the trees, and Sylvia does all the fiddly bits, so it really is a team effort. We also have some nice trees, including a walnut tree, which gives us a fairly good crop every September. I will be selling cuttings of the tree, as they are quite unusual but very easy to grow.”
Mr Cooke added: “I think it will be a good day. There are some beautiful gardens in the village and it is all for a good cause. All the Fiskerton villagers have dug deep for the village hall appeal, so we are hoping this will attract some outsiders who are feeling generous.”