Sheffield gardens opened in aid of worthy causes

Hedley and Margaret Harper in the back garden of their Dobcroft Road home.

Hedley and Margaret Harper in the back garden of their Dobcroft Road home.

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THIS weekend is set to be a scorcher - and what better way to spend a sunny day than strolling around a well-tended English garden, perhaps pausing for a traditional cream tea.

That is what visitors to Mike and Norma Jackson’s home at 9 Newfield Crescent, Dore, will be able to do today and tomorrow, as they throw open their garden to members of the public to raise money for charity.

And next month, the open days continue when Margaret and Hedley Harper invite guests to admire their garden at 122 Dobcroft Road, Millhouses.

The Jacksons and Harpers are among scores of South Yorkshire residents allowing visitors into their glorious gardens this summer through the National Gardens Scheme.

Mike, aged 76, a retired solicitor, said he and wife Norma, 72, are looking forward to showing off their impressive garden, which features terraces, colourful flower beds and two ponds.

The couple have lived on Newfield Road for 44 years, giving them plenty of time to hone their horticultural skills.

Mike said: “Over 40 years we’ve adapted it and put plants in so it’s colourful all year round, and it’s a haven for wildlife.”

He said they have been busy preparing for the public opening by watering and pruning.

Mike said: “We like it to look at its best. This will be our third opening, and you never know what the weather’s going to be like. I suppose you normally expect 200 each day, but it’s never a crowd, it’s nicely populated.

“Refreshments will be laid on and there’ll be plant sales too. It makes for a nice visit.”

Mike said he has observed a multitude of different wildlife species in his garden, from badgers and stoats to kingfishers and cuckoos.

“I think the most complimentary remark I’ve had is that the overall look of the garden is good, how it all melds together,” he said.

The National Gardens Scheme has raised tens of millions of pounds for good causes since 1927. This year more than 3,800 mostly private gardens in England and Wales will be open to visitors throughout the summer months.

Meanwhile the Harpers will be hoping the fine weather lasts until their garden open days on June 16 and 17, and July 15.

Hedley, 69, said he and Margaret, 65, opened their garden for the first time last year and were pleased with the response.

Hedley, a retired charity director and former sales manager for United Biscuits, said: “It was really good, I think we made £2,000 in the end, so we were quite pleased.”

Dobcroft Road has been the Harpers’ home for more than 30 years, and the couple have radically changed the garden since they first moved in.

Hedley said: “It was just mostly a lawn with a little bit of border - we’ve built in some herbaceous borders, two ponds and raised beds at the top.

“The only thing still in it from when we came is a big oak tree. It’s just in the right position to work the garden around it.

“There’s always a certain type of person that wants to come around. You pick up ideas. If you’re interested, it’s nice to look at other gardens - not just big gardens like Chatsworth, but gardens at houses like ours. It’s more feasible.”

Newfield Crescent will be open from 2pm to 6pm today and tomorrow, admission £2.50, children go free. Dobcroft Road opens from 11am to 5pm, admission £3, kids free.

By Richard Blackledge