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Local Gardeners Deploy Muck and Magic to Raise Funds for Charity

06-07-2011 07:56 AM CET | Leisure, Entertainment, Miscellaneous

Press release from: Clickinotpr

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The National Gardens Scheme recognises private gardens of exceptional merit and currently has 3700 listed gardens.

The National Gardens Scheme recognises private gardens of exceptional merit and currently has 3700 listed gardens.

Local gardeners Linda and Toni Hankins are working frantically to prepare their garden for a public opening on the 2nd and 3rd of July as part of the National Gardens Scheme. Their substantial one and a half acres garden, at Davenport Farm, Arthur Lane in Ainsworth, is one of only a handful in Greater Manchester to qualify for the scheme and the only open garden in the Bolton and Bury area this summer

The National Gardens Scheme recognises private gardens of exceptional merit and currently has 3700 listed gardens, from stately homes to semis. These are opened by their owners to the public on selected dates. A small entrance fee, proceeds from refreshments and plant sales all raise money for charity. In 2010 these open days attracted 750,000 visitors and raised over £2.5 million for good causes. “We will be open from two in the afternoon to six in the evening on both dates and look forward to welcoming fellow gardeners to have a look around and a chat,” Linda explained.

The Davenport Farm garden has been developed by Linda and Toni over the past 15 years. Toni recalls, “When we moved-in, the house had recently been renovated and the garden was laid to lawn. During the first hot summer we watched as several large brown oblongs appeared in the lawn. On investigation we found these to be caused by the floors and foundations of previous out buildings that were only minimally covered with topsoil. I hired in a road drill to break up the concrete and imported 400 tonnes of topsoil to give depth and re-grade so that we could create the new garden.”

The current garden has something for everyone. There are formal lawns and borders, a mini woodland walk, secluded niches to sit, two ponds, a vegetable garden, a recently planted orchard and a newly constructed orangery. Toni recently hired in a mini excavator to create two deep trenches that he filled with rich topsoil and manure to give the apple and pear trees a good start. Davenport Farm is on the 160 metre contour, that’s more than 500 feet above sea level, the site is therefore exposed to strong winds, subject to late and early frosts and has a lot of rainfall.

“Most of my career has been in electrical engineering, building and running Rowe Hankins, the Bury based rail systems engineers. I became chairman, and stepped back from day-to-day running of the business in 2010 and this has given me more time to devote to the garden. Linda and I are delighted to have been accepted into the National Gardens Scheme and are currently working all the hours we can to present the garden at its best and make the day as enjoyable as we can for our visitors.”

More Information
High resolution images are on the web at

All the gardens in the National Gardens Scheme are listed in their Yellow Book. For this and for more information about the NGS please consult their web site

About National Gardens Scheme

The National Gardens Scheme was founded in 1927 to raise money for the nurses of the Queen's Nursing Institute (QNI) by opening gardens of quality and interest to the public.

The simple, but radical idea was to ask individuals to open up private gardens for 'a shilling a head'. At that time garden visiting was already a well established pastime (as seen in Pride and Prejudice), but only for a privileged few. In the first year 609 gardens raised over £8,000. A network of volunteer County Organisers was set up and by 1931 over 1,000 private gardens were open and Country Life magazine produced a handbook, known as "The Yellow Book" because of its bright cover.

After the Second World War, the National Health Service took on the District Nursing Service, but money was still needed to care for retired nurses and invest in training so the NGS continued as before. In 1948 the NGS offered joined forces with the National Trust to restore and preserve important gardens. In return, the National Trust opened many of its most prestigious gardens for the NGS. Despite massive inflation in the post-war years, the entrance fee was held at one shilling. After a great deal of persuasion, more realistic entrance fees were introduced in the 1970's and the gardens began to raise significant donations.

In 1980 The National Gardens Scheme Charitable Trust was established as an independent charity, with Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth the Queen Mother as Patron and Her Royal Highness Princess Alice, Duchess of Gloucester as President. In 1984 Macmillan Cancer Relief joined the list of beneficiary charities. In the years that followed other charities joined including Marie Curie Cancer Care, Help the Hospices and Crossroads Caring for Carers.

Over the years the gardens have changed in size and style and NGS now has thousands of smaller gardens. However several 'Pioneer' gardens still open for us and each year some rejoin under new ownership.

Linda and Toni Hankins

Davenport Farm, Arthur Lane, Ainsworth, Bolton, BL2 5PW

Tel. 07710898332 E-mail:

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