Open Gardens, a Friends of St Nicholas Abbotsbury annual project

 With grateful thanks to Lord and Lady Neuberger, to Simon & Lucy Morrison and to Samantha Wood, we ran a hugely successful Open Gardens event in the gardens of the Old Gatehouse, the Manor House and Bee Nice Blooms on 18th June.

Thanks to the enormous efforts of Abbotsbury Artists headed by local artist and art teacher John Meaker, over 20 artists were invited to paint en plein air and to submit their work to the judges: Lady Neuberger, Binny Matthews (finalist in SkyArts Portrait Artist of the Year 2022) and John Meaker (l. to r. in photo below).

Frances Hatch won 1st Prize and Kim Smurthwaite was awarded the Popular Vote prize.  Our thanks to Frank Herring & Sons (Dorchester) and to Abbotsbury Cameo Glass Artist, Helen Millard, who generously donated the prizes.

Over 300 visitors appreciated the art and submitted sealed bids resulting in over £5,000 worth of art being sold.  The proceeds were split between the artists and the Friends’ funds for the restoration of the church.

Next Year’s Open Gardens will be held on Sunday 9th June 2024 when we will be aiming to repeat this year’s highly successful event.

My thanks to each of the 23 volunteers who made this event such a success.  We will need even more volunteers next year!  So if you would like to get involved, please contact me.

Footnote: Local Artist Clare Hawkes was unable to complete her work due to an invasion of flies sticking to her canvas!!

All photographs (c) Elizabeth Olkowicz 2013

We have records the event starting in 2010 making the princely sum of £293 going up to £488.10 the following year and £1176.88 in 2012!

it was so successful because John Houston and David, the gardener, both ensured we had a huge supply of plants to sell.

The Open Gardens project started in 2009 or 2010 in the Gate House garden, courtesy of Lord and Lady Neuberger and supported by Patricia and Torben Houlberg. The Ilchester Estate Subtropical’s Gardener and the Tourism Manager provided a huge supply of plants to sell and there were the usual teas and delicious homemade cakes etc. Thus was made the princely sum of £293 going up to £488.10 the following year and £1176.88 in 2012!  
Although this is an annual event, it has changed in various ways, including one year when many gardens throughout the village were open to the public, and , of course, a few years when it had to be cancelled. But for the last two years we have been lucky with the weather and have enlarged the venues to include the Manor House, and a local flower field, Bee Nice Blooms.