Gates close on £35,000 charity garden in Clipston

A corner of the beautiful garden at The Maltings in Clipston
A corner of the beautiful garden at The Maltings in Clipston

A keen gardener who has raised more than £35,000 for charity from open days, is saying farewell after 10 years.

Julie Connell, of Clipston, said: “I will still have a garden wherever I go, but I can’t cope with a garden as big as this now.”

She has been opening her three-quarters-of-an-acre garden to the public for the past decade.

In that time she has raised more than £35,000 – topping £25,000 for the National Gardens Scheme and more than £9,000 for local charities.

This year alone, 1,046 people visited her garden, when it opened for three days during the Easter break.

Mrs Connell said the glorious weather on the bank holiday Monday made it a particularly busy day.

And in total she has had nearly 9,000 visitors to her garden, at The Maltings in the village.

Now Mrs Connell hopes to downsize, by building a bungalow within her own garden, and selling off the main house and most of the plot.

Mrs Connell’s garden is described on the National Gardens Scheme website as a “sloping plantsman’s garden”.

It is home to many unusual plants, shrubs and old and new trees. One special feature of the garden is that it has more than 60 different varieties of clematis.

It also contains a wild garden walk, a spring bulb area, more than 30 different species of roses, and two ponds connected by a stream.

She explained: “I’ve designed it myself, and the work is done by me and two local gardeners.

“It can’t be a full-time job for me, though, because I also teach music and I’m treasurer of All Saints Church in the village, and involved with playing the organ and with a choir.”

As well as providing a beautiful sight for gardeners and visitors, the National Gardens Scheme open days have also featured a mini cafe selling tea and home-made cakes, which has raised further charity money, this time for local charities.

Down the years, Mrs Connell has raised about £3,100 for the village’s All Saints Church, around £3,400 for the Clipston Pre-School group Stepping Stones, and £3,150 for various other local groups and charities.

Since its foundation in 1927, the National Gardens Scheme has donated more than £45million to charity.

At the moment its nominated beneficiaries – all of which are nursing and caring charities – receive about £2.5m a year.