Garden makes the grade

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Sheffield gardener Marian Simpson has welcomed visitors three times in the last few years, raising nearly £2,000 for cancer charities.

But this year her garden takes on a whole new significance.

For it has now been accredited by the National Garden Scheme - a kind of Michelin Star for gardens - which means that Marian now features in the famous NGS Yellow Book, a guide to the most attractive gardens of Britain.

The public has the chance to see the fruits of her labours this Sunday and next.

That guide describes her garden in Dover Road, off Ecclesall Road, as “colourful, small town garden packed with interest and drama, combining formality with exotic exuberance.” It highlights the “attractive alpine area” and well-stocked borders, and the garden’s “unusual plants and planting combinations.”

Marian was taken aback by the accolade. “I’ve been developing the garden for 20 years, but never thought about getting formal recognition.

“But gardening friends talked me into it. I was a bag of nerves when the assessors came round, but they seemed quite impressed!”

She’s also thought hard about where the proceeds of her open days should go. As part of the NGS scheme, the entrance fee goes to the Parkinson’s Disease charity.

Visitors will also be able to buy nearly 30 different kinds of plants, with those proceeds going to the Sheffield branch of Cruse Bereavement Care.

“Planting flowers and nurturing them is a great activity for people struggling to get over a loss,” said Marian, who is a volunteer counsellor with Cruse. “It’s all about watching something beautiful come to life, investing in the future, and can be very therapeutic,”

There will be home-made cakes and drinks provided by neighbours, and money from refreshments will help fund a trip to Venezuela to carry out voluntary work by 16-year old Liberty Regan, who lives next door.

Marian’s garden is at 34 Dover Road, S11 8RH, and is open on Sundays, May 26 and June 2 from 10am to 5pm. Admission is £3.