Sunday, 8 June 2014

To say that the 32nd Open Gardens Day went out on a high would be an understatement. It far exceeded the expectations of all who planned, took part in and visited what may well be the last Aldham Open Gardens Day, in its present form at least. Maybe it will be revived in a different format, for as many of our visitors were heard to lament, it would be a pity not to have Aldham's beautiful gardens open to the public again.

Financially all records were broken, with over  £5,400 raised for the Church Fabric Fund and £773 for the NSPCC. Over 580 visitors bought programmes. That means that there were more visitors than Aldham residents in the village on 8 June! The weather was ideal and there was a happy buzz around the village  with Choral Evensong providing a fitting end to the day.

At the first Open Gardens Day  in 1983 there were 19 gardens open, and 9 of those opened this year. Only 4 of these are under the same ownership and, if the records are accurate only one of these, Honeysuckle Cottage, has opened every single year since 1983. Well done, Vivien Green! But every single opener over the years deserves huge praise and thanks. A browse through the records revealed that there have been at least 60 gardens open over the 32 years since 1983, over one in four of Aldham gardens!

Behind all those open gardens are dedicated gardeners and a team who help to stage the 'supporting' events of the Day. Aldham has become famous for its tea and cakes and food in general, as well as plant and cake stalls and  other attractions such as floral displays and exhibitions in the church and live music groups. A popular feature of the event has been the Bows 'n' Belles, Aldham's very own Clog Dancers. Since 1988 they have appeared at 23 Open Gardens Days. Five of the original adult dancers from 1988 are still dancing, or drumming, and Ray Pratt has played at every event the group has ever done. The Cloggies danced at 4 venues on the 8 June, in all the heat and humidity, and deserve a big thank you. In 1996 we introduced what was probably the first Minibus service for a local Open Gardens Day. Last year, and this, we have hired two Minibuses, requiring 5 drivers.

So many people have contributed to the success of Open Gardens Day over the years and it is impossible to name them all. But without the enthusiasm and commitment of Patricia Mitchell and Neil and Wendy Byford over the whole 32 years it would have been impossible to keep up the momentum. But Aldham Church is indebted to all Aldham folk and friends who have worked hard to raise funds through this event to keep the building  in tip-top condition.

There has been a church in Aldham since 1145  and  our present building has been at the crossroads for almost 160 years. It is for everyone in the community and you will find a warm welcome there at all times.

                        Iain and Jennifer MacCallum on behalf of Aldham PCC.