Garden offers solace for vulnerable people

A couple on a visit to Furzey Gardens.
A couple on a visit to Furzey Gardens.

Furzey Gardens in Minstead is seeking to help people who are potentially vulnerable to coronavirus to find some solace during difficult times.

The gardens are reserving every Monday for people in more vulnerable categories to enjoy fresh air, peace and tranquility.

With fewer visitors in the gardens it is hoped that on these special days it will be even easier to keep distance from other groups and stay safe.

Those welcome to pre-book a visit for a Monday include anybody who feels more vulnerable in the current situation. They might be shielding, over 70, have underlying health issues or be pregnant.

There are three slots available to book – 10am, 12pm and 2pm. The first two are reserved for adults and children who are seven or older, the final slot is open to visitors of all ages.

Since reopening on 6 June, Furzey Gardens has enjoyed several sold out days and an overwhelmingly positive response from visitors delighted to be back in the gardens.

Visitors of all ages are enjoying 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 have 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 reopened with stringent measures in place to keep visitors safe. A new entrance and one way route will aid social distancing, the toilets are for urgent use only and the tea rooms are serving a takeaway menu including sandwiches, cakes, cream teas and scones.

Madeleine Durie, Chief Executive of Minstead Trust, the charity that runs Furzey Gardens, said: ‘Nearly all of us know people for whom the last few months have been particularly difficult, having to shield from their loved ones and unable to visit beautiful outdoor places like Furzey.

‘We hope our trial of opening on Mondays for more vulnerable people will be a success and help to bring some tranquility and happiness into people’s lives.’

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

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