Topsham to throw open gates to some of town's hidden treasures

PUBLISHED: 06:30 19 June 2016

(c) Martin Poole

The 'secret gardens of Topsham' open their gates to the public this month with a host of new and unexplored gems.

The bi-annual event, on Sunday, June 26, from 1pm until 6pm, will give visitors the chance to take a look around 12 usually-private gardens.

Funds raised from the event will benefit Topsham Museum, helping towards its running costs.

A spokesperson for Topsham’s secret gardens said: “This year, the majority of the secret gardens are completely new and previously unknown to the public – new delights for garden lovers to enjoy.

“Keen gardeners can enhance their visit even further by visiting the plant stall, where lots of unusual plants can usually be found, including selections from some of the secret gardens themselves.

“The atmosphere in the town is vibrant on secret gardens days, with so many people walking round and enjoying the occasion.

“Although we had a rather wet day for the event in 2014, the inclement weather didn’t put off the indomitable visitors who explored the gardens from under umbrellas.”

The secret gardens idea arrived in Topsham after two museum volunteers, Jennifer Bliss and Rachel Nichols, visited an open gardens day in Budleigh Salterton, around 2002.

The event was a ‘catalyst’ for ‘why can’t we do one here in Topsham?’.

The gardens spokesperson said: “This sort of event, involving several gardens in the same town, was quite unusual back then, so they decided to plan an open gardens day in Topsham.

“The aim was to introduce people to the hidden roads and paths in Topsham so visitors could explore the town properly and find the interesting little alleys and paths, rather than just walking to The Quay or down The Strand.

“The first event, organised in Topsham in 2004, had 10 private gardens open for visitors to explore.

“It was such a success that the local printers had to open up on a Sunday morning to print more programmes.

“In 2004 and 2006, there were teas available for visitors at Beach House, near the Goat Walk.”

The spokesperson added: “Dozens of enthusiastic volunteers plan for months and work tirelessly on the day to make it all a success, not to mention the garden owners who are already planning their displays.”

● The opening time for the plant stall is from noon to 5.30pm; gardens and teas, 1pm-6pm.

● Tickets are available online via Topsham Museum e-shop, from the museum or at various outlets in the town, including Wilkinson Grant of Fore Street, which is sponsoring the event, Topsham Stores and Topsham Books. Programmes are £5 in advance or £6 on the day.

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