Around 600 visitors flocked to Cocking on Saturday, May 12 for the annual fundraising opening of Casters Brook gardens, owned by sculptor Philip Jackson and his wife Jean.
The event was the eighth time the Jacksons have opened their gardens in aid of the Murray Downland Trust.
“It was busier than ever,” Jean told the Observer, “and I think we will be slightly up on last year’s fundraising total of £4,000, although we have not finished counting yet.”
She said as well as visitors from a wide area there were many Cocking villagers at the event.
“That’s what I really like about it. The Murray Downland is a local charity and we look up onto the Downs from Cocking so I really like the idea that local villagers are supporting it and visiting the gardens.”
There were 14 sculptures by Philip Jackson in the garden and during the afternoon the sculptor gave an introduction to his work and invited visitors to follow an art trail through the gardens.
During the day, young musicians from Midhurst Primary School’s Musical Mayhem group entertained the crowds.
Local beekeepers gave demonstrations and there was brisk business at the plant stall.
In addition, there was a fresh produce stall manned by volunteers in the gardens and an exhibition of the work of the Murray Downland Trust.
The Murray Downland Trust looks after several local nature reserves on the South Downs, the nearest one being at Heyshott. It has had great success in creating and maintaining open downland in which flowers, butterflies and birds can flourish.
Co-organiser of the garden event, Naomi Barnett said: “All this costs money and although most of the work is done by volunteers, keeping down operational costs, there are still expenses running into thousands of pounds. The animals for grazing have to be paid for and fencing to enclose them is also a major cost.”