Despite being unable to open until June due to the coronavirus lockdown, Furzey Gardens in Minstead has welcomed more than 15,000 visitors and seen over 800 people sign up for annual membership this summer.
This is the highest number of members in the garden’s history, as people are drawn to escape to this tranquil, secret garden nestled deep in the New Forest. Membership offers unlimited visits to the gardens all year and members recoup their fee after just three visits. They also benefit from 10% off in the thatched tea rooms.
Feedback from visitors of all ages this summer has shown that this peaceful, woodland garden is offering them solace during an especially difficult year.
Furzey Gardens is famous for its collection of over 40 fairy doors, rustic thatched structures and informal woodland planting. It is part of Minstead Trust, a charity supporting people with learning disabilities to live more independent and fulfilled lives. People with learning disabilities work to maintain the gardens and raise new plants in the nursery.
Visitors have praised the covid secure measures at the gardens, which include pre-booking, a new entrance and one way route to aid social distancing. The garden’s popular thatched tea rooms are serving a takeaway menu including sandwiches, cakes, cream teas and scones.
Despite the wonderful response from visitors since June, Furzey Gardens lost tens of thousands of pounds in income from closing during lockdown. The gardens are indebted to all those who donated to its reopening fundraising appeal and have subsequently visited the gardens and taken out membership – their support has been crucial. Minstead Trust continues to rely on the generosity of its visitors and supporters to secure the future of the gardens in order to continue to welcome visitors and support vulnerable people.
Adam Dodd, Furzey Gardens manager, said: ‘At one point this year we wondered if the gardens would be able to open at all due to coronavirus. So the response from visitors and the incredible number of new members we have gained this summer has been amazing.
‘We have had lots of sold out days and it’s been lovely to see the gardens full of happy visitors of all ages sharing happy times during difficult times.
‘We have plenty planned this autumn, including a scavenger hunt for children during half term and an end of season plant sale from 9 October. We hope to see plenty more visitors enjoying the stunning autumn colour in the gardens this month.’
Entrance to Furzey Gardens is by suggested donation, all visitors must pre-book their slot at www.furzey-gardens.org
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