Crocus carpet welcomes all visitors
AS a "welcome to your new home" you could scarcely have asked for anything more stunning – thousands of crocuses in full bloom.
New owners Barnabas and Campie Hurst-Bannister were thrilled at the sight. Now, nearly seven years on, the couple have become the latest North Devon recruits to the National Gardens Scheme (NGS) and look forward to a lively turnout at Worlington House, near Witheridge, on February 24 and March 3.
Campie (real name Campion) believes the crocuses were originally planted more than 60 years ago when the house was still the rectory.
She recalled when they were new owners: "It was a wonderful, welcoming surprise."
The house, partly dating from the 15th century, sits in the centre of East Worlington and is surrounded by a two-acre garden with must-see views down the valley to the Little Dart river.
The crocuses have spread in spectacular style across the garden and into the neighbouring churchyard.
Campie and Barnabas were asked if they fancied joining the NGS when they opened their spread amid the crocuses and snowdrops early last year in aid of the rethatching of the parish hall next door.
She said: "We have always been keen to make sure that everyone in the village enjoys the magnificent position of the garden. Now there's an opportunity for other people to see it too, at the same time raising money for good causes."
East Worlington house will open on both Sundays from 1.30pm to 5pm.
Appropriately, the re-thatching appeal comes into its own again when the parish hall opens to serve cream teas.
As a further treat, plants will be for sale. Admission is £3, with children getting in free.
A dozen miles west as the pollen blows, three gardens at Cherubeer, Dolton, will tomorrow once again parade 150 different named forms of snowdrop, a National Collection of hardy cyclamen and a host of other springtime favourites for the public.
The three adjoining gardens, owned by Tom and Jo Hynes and their families, are this year celebrating a decade of open days for NGS cancer charities, with more than £10,000 rasied in that time.
Tomorrow's event follows the threesome's first 2013 opening last Sunday week.
Jo said: "The garden this year is in turmoil with a large area of lawn waiting to be turfed after levelling. The ground has been too waterlooged to rake down and much too wet for laying the grass.
"The project was started at the end of August and it's rained ever since."
Entry is £4 for the three gardens. Soup and teas will be available and plants are for sale including named snowdrops and cyclamen.
For the Cherubeers, turn off the Beaford to Winkleigh road where it is signposted Stafford Fishery and turn next right. Call Jo or Tom on 01805 804265 for more details.
All garden owners who open for the NGS are invited to the annual meeting, plant sale and stationery distribution on Sunday, February 24, at Longdown village hall, at 11am.
Guest speaker will be Tom Sharples, horticultural manager of Suttons Seeds, on new developments in plant breeding for the home gardener.
Devon NGS are still appealing for high-resoluton pictures of members' gardens for publication in the new Yellow Book and other magazines. E-mail them to firstname.lastname@example.org or Miranda@allhusen.co.uk