Yesterday marked our first major in-person event since the beginning of the pandemic, with the Longford Castle Open Garden & Plant Sale proving to be a phenomenal success!
Thanks to the charity’s extraordinarily generous Patron, the Countess of Radnor, and her family, we were able to welcome 500 people, including patients currently spending time in the Duke of Cornwall Spinal Treatment Centre at Salisbury District Hospital, to the Longford Estate for the event.
Guests were able to visit the stunning formal gardens, the heavenly old garden and generally had the chance to appreciate the impressive, historic atmosphere of Longford Castle and its magnificent surroundings. Numerous patients arrived early for an exclusive exploration of the grounds, which everyone enjoyed immensely, before visitors began to arrive to make their own way through the breathtaking planting. Everyone shared how utterly exquisite they’d discovered the gardens to be and how they were a testament to the talents of Longford’s Head Gardener and the expertise of the Longford Estates team.
The occasion was generously sponsored by Casterbridge Wealth Investments, meaning that all the money raised could go directly to supporting people affected by spinal injury from across the South West. The team had a stand on the day and as ever were totally engaged with the charity and its supporters. It was wonderful to be able to welcome them to the fair and they kindly pledged to continue their support of the charity too.
Naturally, the plants were certainly popular with the public and featured a glorious selection kindly donated by The Barbour Foundation, The Hairy Pot Plant Company, Wilton Garden Centre and Castle Gardens in Sherborne. These all featured alongside those grown in Horatio’s Garden South West and by our brilliant volunteers at home, meaning there was a fantastic range of intriguing, unique plants available. Each piece of foliage offered everyone the opportunity to take home a memento of their day at Longford, as well as a little piece of Horatio’s Garden.
We were also joined by Nigel from the Long Acre Plants nursery, who buoyantly brought with him their own irresistible selection of plants. We were enormously grateful for their support and were pleased to see that their sales also steadily rose throughout the afternoon!
Meanwhile, in the open marquee, there were a host of other delights awaiting everyone, one of which was the charity’s craft stall. Volunteers from Horatio’s Garden South West have been turning their artistic aptitude to creating charming crafts for many months in preparation for the event and visitors were thrilled to be able to take home plenty of one-of-a-kind items, which were just perfect to gift or to keep.
As ever, people were drawn to the charity’s beautifully bespoke merchandise too, with the marvellous volunteers taking care of the stand not only presenting all the products superbly, but also chatting and sharing more about the stories behind each line with countless customers. Their knowledge was very much appreciated, as was their warm welcome.
Another team were responsible for ensuring guests remained refreshed, triumphantly gathering an astonishing collection of homemade and locally produced cakes ahead of the event. Once there, the same splendid volunteer group worked tirelessly throughout the afternoon to ensure everyone had the chance to indulge a little as they sat amongst their loved ones bathed in the day’s unexpectedly gorgeous sunshine. We were grateful too to Milk & More and Canonball Coffee, who kindly donated all the milk and coffee served at the event.
Loungers had a fantastic day, selling many more pairs of their comfortable, ethical organic cotton brushed trousers than they expected! The new company have been wonderfully supporting the charity for many months, even creating a Horatio’s Garden design, with 25% of profits on every pair sold being generously donated to the charity. At yesterday’s event they were even more generous, donating their usual 25% of profits from the charity-inspired design and 10% of profits from their various other designs too.
The opposite end of the marquee was filled with ‘wild and unruly flowers’, the signature style of Wild Artichoke, otherwise known as master florists Sarah and Pip. Many visitors safely gathered near their stall, taking home enchanting tussie mussies, all made using homegrown and locally foraged flowers. The dynamic duo have been kindly donating all profits from their workshops and sales to the charity for a while now, which we are enormously grateful for.
Two final stands completed the collection, one featuring books all donated by the Radnor family. Few were able to resist perusing the array of popular and unusual titles, just as they found it difficult to avoid the temptation of the stall that was home to a selection of preserves and the raffle.
The preserves were of course of great interest to everyone, with each being homemade by Somerset-based supporter, Vivien Lloyd. Vivien attended the event and regularly concocts incredible jams, chutneys, jellies, marmalades and almost anything else you can think of, generously donating all the proceeds to Horatio’s Garden! The fantastic flavours are all made using organically farmed fruits, whether they’ve made their way to her from her friends’ farms in Spain and France, or she’s gathered and grown them locally. Our raffle too was inevitably enticing and we’re excited to be drawing our winners shortly.
Of course, a huge ‘thank you’ also goes to every single supporter who bought a ticket and joined us for this immensely happy occasion. It was a true joy and a real pleasure to welcome supporters old and new to the event and absolutely lovely to hear that each of you adored your visit.
We’re hopeful that it won’t be long before we see you at another of our fabulous fundraising events soon!